James Cameron

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James Cameron (2016)

James Francis Cameron (* 16th August 1954 in Kapuskasing , Ontario ) is a Canadian , in the United States living film director , film producer , screenwriter , film editor and three-time Oscar award winner, who particularly on action and sci-fi movies has specialized . With Titanic and Avatar, two of the three most commercially successful films in film history were made under his direction .


Youth and Studies

James Cameron grew up in Niagara Falls , Canada , on the border with the USA. His father was an electrical engineer, his mother a painter.

In 1969 Cameron saw the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick . The film made a big impression on him and guided his career choice. Cameron read about film history and special effects . In 1971 the family moved to Orange County , California . Because his family could not afford a film school education, he began studying physics at Fullerton College. When he found that his math skills were insufficient, he studied English literature.

After graduating from college, he married Sharon Williams and worked as a truck driver . In 1977, Star Wars rekindled his passion for filmmaking. Disappointed that this was a movie he always wanted to make, he acquired a great deal of knowledge of screenwriting and filmmaking, and learned how to use film equipment.

Directing debut and film career

On his first film Xenogenesis , a 35mm short film that he made with friends William Wisher and Randall Frakes in 1978 and was funded by a consortium of dentists, Cameron also acted as director, producer, writer, cameraman, editor, Model maker and special effects manager. Wisher starred and Frakes acted as director and producer. During the production of the film, Cameron quit his job as a truck driver. However, the film never made it to a screen. Cameron decided to devote all of his time to filmmaking, so he applied to New World Pictures, Roger Corman's production company . After working behind the scenes on a few films and making himself unpopular with the workforce due to his ambition, he was so convincing as Production Designer and Second Unit Director that he was offered his first directorial offer while shooting the film Planet des Schreckens (Galaxy of Terror) received. However, the movie Piranha 2 - Flying Killers was a huge disappointment for Cameron, but also an important experience as a director. After the film's producer, Ovidio G. Assonitis , interfered in the shooting and finally fired him while the film was being made, Cameron later broke into the producer's cutting facility in Rome one night in order to finish the film on his terms (which Assonitis but undone). His debut film turned out to be an artistic and commercial fiasco.

James Cameron (1986)

After returning to America, Cameron wrote the personal nightmare- based screenplay for the film Terminator in 1982 . He sold the script to producer Gale Anne Hurd for a dollar in exchange for a promise that he could direct the film. As the film's funding dragged on, it didn't hit theaters until 1984, but eventually made Cameron a star.

In the time leading up to the Terminator filming, he wrote two more scripts - for Aliens - The Return and Rambo 2 - The Mission . The script changes by Sylvester Stallone and the implementation of Rambo 2 completely angered Cameron, largely due to the omission of the anti-militarist message of his draft. In an interview with the German film critic Milan Pavlovic, when asked whether he had processed his own experiences in the script, Cameron replied that as a Canadian he had nothing to do with the Vietnam War .

The producers of Aliens , Walter Hill , David Giler and Gordon Carroll , had insisted on the content of the film that the protagonist from the first alien film Ripley and soldiers should play. After reading the script Cameron wrote and witnessing the success of Terminator, they offered him to direct the film. Cameron accepted on condition that Hurd would take over production. For just $ 18 million, he shot the sequel to Ridley Scott's Alien , which received almost universally positive film reviews and seven Academy Award nominations and is considered one of the best science fiction films of all time.

Next he was filming Abyss , the plot of which was based on a story he wrote in a biology class when he was 17. Later at the university, a man was shown at a lecture who, in a diving suit, breathed a liquid saturated with oxygen instead of air in order to be able to dive to great depths. The film was released in theaters in 1989. At $ 48 million in production costs, the film only barely made it into profit. The Abyss is one of the greatest milestones in film history, as it revolutionized animation technology. Completely new techniques such as morphing , photo-realistic computer animations and underwater blue screens were partially developed especially for this film. However, the film is still considered a prime example of bad marketing, as not a word was said in advertising about the groundbreaking effects. In order not to repeat this mistake, the advertising for the next film ( Terminator 2 ) overemphasized the special effects . The qualities of the film justified a larger fan base for Cameron, The Abyss ran for years in cinemas .

In 1990 Cameron founded the production company Lightstorm Entertainment together with Larry Kasanoff , with which he from then on produced his films. In 1993 he also founded the special effects company Digital Domain together with effects specialist Stan Winston , which produces digital effects for both Cameron's and other films. In 2000, Cameron also founded Cameron / Eagle Productions for the production of television series , but this was dissolved again after a short period.

The box office hits Terminator 2 and Titanic

Terminator 2 was the most expensive film of all time in 1991. Cameron wrote the script for the $ 94 million film with William Wisher.

In the early 1990s, Cameron signed a framework contract for 20 films that guaranteed him a total fee of $ 500 million.

True Lies , Cameron's first action comedy, hit theaters in 1994. Arnold Schwarzenegger came up with the idea. While on a motorcycle tour with Cameron, he heard him from a French comedy called La Totale! tells.

On December 19, 1997, Titanic was finally released in American cinemas (premiere in Germany: January 8, 1998). According to Cameron, the film, which cost just over 200 million dollars, was awarded eleven Oscars.

Retreat as a film director and other projects

After Titanic , Cameron largely withdrew from directing, undertook several deep-sea dives as a hobby researcher and worked with his brother Mike on the development of new film techniques. In 2000, Cameron produced his first television series, Dark Angel . The series was only a success outside of the US and was discontinued after two seasons. Together with Bill Paxton and his brother Mike, Cameron made Ghosts of the Abyss, an IMAX 3D film about the Titanic in 2001 , which was released in theaters in 2003.

In 2002 Cameron produced a television documentary about the German battleship Bismarck , which was broadcast on the Discovery Channel . The documentary was first shown on German television in 2006 by RTL .

In 2005, a 3D documentary entitled Aliens of the Seas was released in IMAX cinemas, in which Cameron and NASA scientists investigate mountain ranges on the ocean floor and deep-sea creatures.

Short return with the global success Avatar

James Cameron (2009) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

For the science fiction 3D film Avatar - Departure to Pandora , which was released in theaters on December 16, 2009, Cameron further developed digital and stereoscopic 3D techniques in addition to CGI techniques. The filming of the 237 million dollar film took place from April to November 2007 in New Zealand and Hollywood. With 2.721 billion US dollars (around 2.14 billion euros ) it exceeded the box office income of Titanic (1.843 billion dollars). Avatar - Aufbruch nach Pandora was therefore without taking inflationary effects into account until it was replaced by Avengers: Endgame in 2019 as the most financially successful film in the world. The record was set after 39 days, compared to 41 weeks for Titanic .

Cameron has not released any other directorial work since 2009. He is currently working on four more Avatar sequels.

Further film projects as a producer

In April 2014, the first episode of the nine-part television documentary series Years of Living Dangerously , co-produced by Cameron, was broadcast, which deals with the causes and consequences of climate change . Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford , Matt Damon , Don Cheadle and Jessica Alba are among others .

Cameron produced the film Alita: Battle Angel , for which he wrote the script. The film is a film adaptation of the manga Battle Angel Alita , which was released in 3D on February 14, 2019. The director took Robert Rodriguez .

For the sixth Terminator film, Terminator: Dark Fate , Cameron returned as a producer, consultant and story writer. The film is a direct sequel to Terminator 2 and ignores the rest of the parts. Tim Miller directed the film . The film was released in cinemas on October 23, 2019.

Film style and way of working

James Cameron's films have a lot in common. This includes the intensive use of elaborate, state-of-the-art special effects and the usually high budget: At the time of their completion, several films were the most expensive film in the world. In almost all of Cameron's films, strong and self-confident women play a leading role, a rarity in the action film genre. The frequent use of blue color filters and some scenes from Dutch Angles are striking in terms of style . Frequently recurring themes in Cameron's films are characters who have to deal with dramatic crisis situations, the conflict between technology and humanity, the appearance of extraterrestrial life forms and the danger posed by greedy companies. Although the majority of his work consists of science fiction and action films, the romantic core of his films is considered the most important characteristic of his personal film style.

Cameron is known for his dictatorial nature and high temper on the film set. Author Orson Scott Card described him as "cruel" and "selfish". Actress Kate Winslet (Titanic) said she would no longer work with Cameron unless she was given "a lot of money" for it. According to Sam Worthington (Avatar), Cameron nailed ringing cellphones of employees to the studio wall with a nail gun on the set. Sigourney Weaver defended Cameron's leadership style and assured that Cameron may demand the utmost of his employees for the sake of the film, but was just as tough on himself. In the South Park episode A Hollow Bar , his dictatorial and eccentric manner is satirized , but also his cultural and environmental contribution is appreciated.

Environmental activities

At the beginning of April 2010, Cameron traveled to Brazil , where he campaigned against the construction of the Belo Monte reservoir , which is threatening Indian tribes on the Rio Xingu . To do this, he visited Juruna, Xipaia and Xikrin Kayapó, who oppose the resettlement of 12,000 residents and the destruction of their culture.

After the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 , James Cameron presented a concept for leak sealing and offered his submarines and special equipment to cooperate, which he said was ignored by the authorities.

In late April 2010, Cameron said in a panel discussion (with Thomas L. Friedman and Sigourney Weaver ) that climate change was the greatest threat to the United States since World War II. In contrast to now, however, it was only a limited problem at the time. He pointed out that at the end of his film Avatar, planet earth was referred to as the “dying world”. Avatar is not a prediction, but should warn of what is happening. In October 2010, it was announced that Cameron had donated $ 1 million to support the California Climate Change Act initiated by Arnold Schwarzenegger . Cameron was then referred to as a "hypocrite" by climate change deniers in a political commercial. His warnings about climate change contradict the fact that there are heated swimming pools, a large number of cars, motorcycles etc. on his large estate, but no solar panels or wind turbines. The daily The Independent pointed out that the film ignores that Cameron compensation for his personal CO 2 emissions strip.

Cameron claims to have been vegan for moral reasons since spring 2012 . In July 2012 he announced that he wanted to convert the recently acquired New Zealand farm to plant-based products. At an award ceremony of the National Geographic Society in June 2013, at which he received the award "Explorer of the Year", he again promoted the vegan diet for reasons of environmental protection.

During a hearing before a subcommittee of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on April 11, 2013, James Cameron pointed out the importance of protecting and exploring the oceans.

The sensitization for a readjustment of the relationship between humans and nature is the reason for Cameron to invest the majority of his remaining directing career in "Avatar".

Private life


Cameron married five times. From 1978 to 1984 he was married to Sharon Williams , then from 1985 to 1989 with the producer Gale Anne Hurd , with whom he realized Aliens and Terminator together . In 1989, Cameron married Kathryn Bigelow . The marriage was divorced in 1991. Cameron married actress Linda Hamilton in 1997 , whom he met while filming Terminator (1984) and who became a couple while filming the sequel Terminator 2 - Reckoning (1991). Together they have a daughter (* 1993). The marriage was divorced in 1999. He has been married to actress Suzy Amis since 2000 , whom he met while filming Titanic (1997). Together they have a son and two daughters.

Diving trip to the Challenger Deep

Since 2005, Cameron has been working with National Geographic to develop a manned submarine with the aim of reaching the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench , presumably the deepest point in the world's oceans. Since three other groups were also trying to do this (financed by the then Chief Executive Officer of Google , Eric Schmidt and the Chairman of the Virgin Group , Richard Branson , among others ), he kept his venture a secret until February 2012. On March 26, 2012, he reached the bottom of the deep with his deep-sea submarine, the Deepsea Challenger, alone and as the third person in total. The boat was equipped with numerous cameras, the recordings of which became the basis for the 3D documentary film Deepsea Challenge (2014) about the deep sea and the expedition.


Short films

Feature films




executive producer

Film editor

watch TV


  • 2001: Earthship.TV (TV movie)
  • 2002: Dark Angel (TV series, episode 2 × 21 A people of monsters )

executive producer

Awards (selection)

Films in the top 250 of the IMDb
space Movie
37 Terminator 2 - Day of Reckoning
73 Aliens - The Return
242 Terminator

Academy Awards

Golden Globe Award

British Academy Film Award

Emmy Award

  • 2003 : Nomination in the category director of a non-fictional program for Die Bismarck
  • 2014 : Award in the category documentation of a non-fictional series for Years of Living Dangerously

Saturn Award

British Fantasy Award

  • 1987: Best Film for Aliens - The Return

Recurring contributors

Cameron has preferred to work with Bill Paxton , Michael Biehn , Lance Henriksen , Jenette Goldstein and Arnold Schwarzenegger .

The table below gives an overview of the repeated collaboration between actors.

Piranha 2: Flying Killers
The Terminator
Aliens Return
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
True Lies
Expedition: Bismarck
The Spirits of the Titanic
Michael Biehn Kyle Reese Corporal Dwayne Hicks Lt. Hiram Coffey Kyle Reese
Earl Boen Dr. Peter Silberman Dr. Peter Silberman
Jenette Goldstein Private Jenette Vasquez Janelle Voight Irish mother
Linda Hamilton Sarah Connor Sarah Connor
Lance Henriksen Steve Kimbrough Detective Vukovich L. Bishop
Bill Paxton Punk # 1 Private William Hudson Simon Brock Lovett Bill Paxton
Arnold Schwarzenegger The terminator The terminator Harry Tasker
Sigourney Weaver Ripley Dr. Grace Augustine


  • Christopher Heard: Living dreams. James Cameron. His life, his films. Verlag Burgschmiet, Nuremberg 2001, ISBN 3-932234-97-9 .
  • Eckhard Pabst (Ed.): Myths - Mothers - Machines. The universe of James Cameron. Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 2005, ISBN 3-933598-71-0 .
  • Andreas Friedrich: [Article] James Cameron. In: Thomas Koebner (Ed.): Film directors. Biographies, descriptions of works, filmographies. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-15-010662-4 , pp. 101-105.

Web links

Commons : James Cameron  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. boxofficemojo.com (Titanic) or boxofficemojo.com (Avatar)
  2. Rebecca Keegan: 'The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron' . In: The New York Times . January 15, 2010, ISSN  0362-4331 ( nytimes.com [accessed June 9, 2020]).
  3. Piranha 2. Accessed June 9, 2020 .
  4. AmazingCameron.com ( Memento October 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
  5. ^ Aliens (1986). Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  6. grossing results from Avatar. Inside Kino, accessed April 25, 2010 .
  7. zeit.de ( Memento from January 31, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  8. Film starts: "Avatar 2", "Avatar 3", "Avatar 4": The scripts are almost finished and we can start soon. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  9. filmdirectors.co ( Memento of the original from March 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / filmdirectors.co
  10. ^ Dana Goodyear: Man of Extremes. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  11. Lights, cameras, blockbuster: The return of James Cameron. January 11, 2007, accessed June 9, 2020 .
  12. ^ Judith Woods: James Cameron: 'I once nail-gunned 20 mobiles to a wall' . October 1, 2012, ISSN  0307-1235 ( telegraph.co.uk [accessed June 9, 2020]).
  13. James Cameron: Another planet. December 12, 2009, accessed June 9, 2020 .
  14. ^ South Park, "Raising the Bar" Review - IGN. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  15. James Cameron, in real life, fights to save indigenous groups from massive dam construction in Brazil. Mongabay, April 1, 2010
  16. James Quinn: Gulf of Mexico oil spill: James Cameron offers private submarines to help BP clean-up . May 13, 2010, ISSN  0307-1235 ( telegraph.co.uk [accessed June 9, 2020]).
  17. ^ Josh Duboff: James Cameron Says Government Ignored His Oil Spill Response Plan. Retrieved June 9, 2020 (American English).
  18. 'Avatar' Director James Cameron: Climate Change as Great as Any Threat Since World War II. In: cnsnews.com. April 21, 2010, accessed April 26, 2014 .
  19. Prop. 23: Avatar's James Cameron kicks in $ 1 million. In: Los Angeles Times . October 15, 2010, accessed April 26, 2014 .
  20. James Cameron labeled climate change 'hypocrite'. In: The Independent . October 24, 2010, accessed April 26, 2014 .
  21. Samantha Chang: Vegan director James Cameron: You're not an environmentalist if you eat meat. examiner.com, October 9, 2012, accessed October 19, 2012 .
  22. James Cameron Advocates Vegan Diet During National Geographic Society Gala Speech. The Huffington Post , June 18, 2013, accessed April 26, 2014 .
  23. ^ "Deep Sea Challenge: Innovative Partnerships in Ocean Observation." Recording of a hearing before the United States Senate Subcommittee. Retrieved January 29, 2016 .
  24. Lars-Olav Beier: “I don't care about Hollywood” . In: Der Spiegel . No. 35 , 2017, p. 126-129 ( online ).
  25. James Cameron Biography (1954-). Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  26. James Cameron Completes Record-Breaking Mariana Trench Dive. Solo sub dive is deepest ever. National Geographic , March 25, 2012, accessed March 26, 2012 .
  27. James Cameron dives to the deepest point of the sea. In: Spiegel Online . March 26, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2012 .
  28. Film starts: James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge 3D. Retrieved June 9, 2020 .
  29. The Top 250 of the IMDb (as of April 26, 2020)
  30. science fiction awards database - James Cameron. Retrieved November 21, 2017 .