James Cameron interview on Directing (1999)

“Everyone around me had basically said, ‘You stink. You suck. You don’t know what you’re doing.’”

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James Cameron was out of luck. After working for years as a model builder, production designer and second-unit director on low-budget horror films, he had been fired from his first job as director in a feature film. Stranded in Rome, swiping rolls off of room service carts, he had hit bottom. But he had an idea for another film; that idea became The Terminator. The script was easy to sell, but no studio wanted to take a chance on Cameron as director. His unbridled enthusiasm won over a few brave producers and star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film was a runaway international hit and Cameron was on his way.

Aliens and True Lies consolidated Cameron’s reputation as a director of action films, but he wanted more. Cameron’s Titanic went on to become the first motion picture to gross more than $1 billion worldwide and also earned an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards, including Oscars for Director, Cinematography, Film Editing and Best Picture. It became the top-grossing motion picture of all time, until it was surpassed by Cameron’s Avatar, a breathtaking science fiction spectacle photographed in a revolutionary 3D process invented by the director himself. With these historic achievements in motion picture production, Cameron has become, in the words of Titanic‘s Jack, “King of the World.”