Return of James Cameron, the king of the box office
“Can you just turn on the effects themselves?” Cameron asked.
A gruff voice wafts off the screen as the scene rolls around.
“We don’t want that,” said Cameron, backing away. “I don’t know what that is. This sounds like a rickshaw crashing on a bumpy road. Solo play me what you’re going to play against the music. Does it have a name or a number?”
“We call it D-FX,” said one of the mixers.
“Not very creative,” Cameron said dryly.
The scene continued silently now.
“Something is going on but we don’t hear it,” said Cameron.
The atmosphere in the room was restless. Cameron turned to me. “I always tell them there are a lot of damn handles,” he said. “I mean, you can operate a spacecraft with fewer knobs than this.”
“Nothing is playing,” one mixer said audibly frustrated. “It’s weird.”
“It’s just because a big-shot journalist is watching,” said Cameron, again trying to smooth the mood. “It’s the classic observer effect, isn’t it?” He turned to his team: “No pressure, but …”
Cameron, in his nearly 40 years of filmmaking, has earned himself a reputation for his temper. Some would say he has earned this reputation many times over. On more than one Cameron set, crew members wore T-shirts that read: “You Can’t Intimidate Me – I Work for Jim Cameron.” Cameron is well aware of this. “I think there was a period of time early on where that reputation worked in my favour,” he later told me. And it captured this Paul Bunyan, slightly above quality of life quality. And then there was a legitimate time when I looked at me like, ‘Well, why am I so upset, and what’s the solution?’ I’m not saying I don’t get upset once in a while. I mean, I think everyone deserves a bad day. But whereas before, it might have been once every two weeks. Now it’s like twice a year.”
Cameron remembers working with Ron Howard, the famously suave director, on the visual effects for Apollo 13And I just watched what a great guy he was. I’m like, ‘I’m a complete idiot compared to Ron Howard. I have to connect with the Ron Howard that’s in me. And maybe he’s had bad days too, I don’t know, but I haven’t seen it. And he was very complimentary to people. I always thought That no negative comment equals flattery. That’s not how people get attached at all. You have to say it out loud.”
Cameron, despite his famous temper, has always inspired loyalty; He often obscures his obsessive focus when he’s in the middle of a movie production on the cultured, charming Canadian when he’s not working. Weaver, who first met Cameron when she was starring Aliens In 1986, he told me: “It wasn’t until we went to Venice with Aliens to a film festival, when I was sitting at dinner with him, and I went, “Jesus, you’re so funny! Where has that guy been all along?” Others swore to work with the director only to come back, like Kate Winslet, who spoke wearily after Titanic Capture her lack of Cameron’s penchant for water tank photography. However, Winslet is not just in water way—She learned to free dive for it, so she could shoot her underwater scenes. “I think she has something to prove for herself,” said Cameron. “And so, I mean, there’s no extra charge for the treatment, in the moment of recovery where she has to hold her breath underwater for seven and a half minutes and become an underwater queen.”
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