logo logo

James Francis Cameron (Iron Jim, Jim)

James Cameron is a critically acclaimed film director known for some of the biggest box-office hits of all time. A science fiction fan as a child, he went on to produce and direct films including The Terminator, Aliens and Avatar. His most noted work, 1997's Titanic, became the first film to earn more than $1 billion.

Background

  • James Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada in 1954 but grew up in Chippawa, a small town just outside of Niagara Falls, Ontario, where demanding, disciplinarian parents, with whom he developed the creative energy and tireless work ethic, raised him. His father Phillip Cameron, was an electrical engineer and his mother, Shirley Cameron was an artist. She encouraged her son to paint, and even helped arrange an exhibition for him at a local gallery.

  • Education

    • In high school he wrote sci-fi stories and fantasized a lot instead of doing his homework. Diving and drawing were the most important things for James Cameron when he was at school, because he likes the feel of discovery and he could paint whatever he imagine. He was fond of diving also because of the underwater life, unusual creatures.

      Although he got good marks, he came to the realization that science was not for him, and so he switched his major to English.

      But he dreamed of being involved in filmmaking, a dream that had started as a young boy when he saw 2001: A Space Odyssey. Finally surrendering to his dreams, he dropped out of school and took a series of menial jobs including working in a machine shop, being a truck driver, a school bus driver, and painting pictures, which allowed him to write the stories he wanted to write.

    Career

    • A science fiction fan as a child, James Cameron grew up to become one of the most visionary filmmakers in Hollywood. He initially pursued physics as a student at California State University at Fullerton, but he left to follow his cinematic dreams. Working as a truck driver, Cameron would pull off the road to work on screenplays.

      In 1978, Cameron made his first film, a science fiction short called Xenogenesis. The film helped him get a job with New World Pictures, a company run by famed B-movie director Roger Corman. At New World, Cameron worked in number of different roles, from art director on Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) to director on Piranha II: The Spawning (1981).

      Cameron's fortunes changed in 1984, when he wrote and directed the film The Terminator (1984). The movie told the gripping science fiction tale of a robot from the future who travels to the present day to hunt down the leader of the resistance in a yet-to-occur battle between humans and machines. The film became a critical and commercial hit, and helped Cameron land his next project, the sequel to Ridley Scott's Alien(1979).

      With The Abyss (1989), however, Cameron experienced a number of disappointments. The shoot for the film was grueling. Much of it was filmed in a huge underwater set, which took its toll on the cast and crew. After its release, critics and move-goers were not impressed with the story of scuba divers who encounter aliens while recovering a U.S. Navy submarine. The film's visual effects, however, were stunning and earned an Academy Award. Working with his third wife, Kathryn Bigelow, Cameron helped produce her 1991 action flick, Point Break (1991). The couple's two-year relationship ended around this same time. Cameron returned to form that same year with another box-office hit,Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). The film earned more than $200 million, and broke new ground with its impressive visual effects.

      Titanic

      Mixing martial issues with undercover spies, Cameron wrote and directed True Lies (1994), starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film made it to No. 1 at the box office, grossed more than $378 million worldwide,

      and received an Oscar nod for its visual effects. Cameron then began a massive undertaking with his story Titanic, a movie about star-crossed lovers (played byLeonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) trapped aboard the doomed Titanic ocean liner. To recreate one of the greatest disasters at sea, Cameron had a special studio built in Mexico, which featured a 17-million-gallon water tank and 775-foot replica of theTitanic.

      The film cost nearly $200 million to make, and was plagued with problems and delays. Many in the industry expected the film to tank just like its namesake, but Cameron proved the skeptics wrong. Opening in December 1997, the film received critical raves and strong ticket sales. Titanic became the first film to earn more than $1 billion and landed 14 Academy Award nominations. For his work on the film, Cameron took home three Oscars—for best director, best film editing, and best picture. In 1999, he divorced Linda Hamilton and married actress Suzy Amis, who appeared in Titanic, in 2000.

      Continuing to be fascinated by the Titanic story, Cameron worked with his brother, Mike, to create new technology to film the undersea wreck of the infamous vessel. The result was the 3-D IMAX documentary Ghosts of the Abyss (2003). Two more documentaries followed in 2005: Volcanoes of the Deep and Aliens of the Deep.

      Avatar

      Again revolutionizing the world of special effects, Cameron returned to making feature films with Avatar (2009). The film explores the conflict between American forces and the native population on another planet. Sam Worthington played an American soldier who switches sides to help the Na'vi people, and falls in love with one of them (played by Zoe Saldana).

      Avatar quickly surpassed Titanic at the box office. It has also earned Cameron a number of accolades, including Golden Globe wins for Best Director and Best Motion Picture - Drama. For the Academy Awards, Avatar was been nominated in nine categories, including best picture and best director. Cameron lost out on some of the night's big prizes to his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow who won best director and best picture for her work on The Hurt Locker.

      All of the success of Avatar has led Cameron to develop two sequels to this box office hit. Avatar 2 is expected to be released in 2015.

      Deepsea Challenger

      In 2013, Cameron traveled across the country with his Deepsea Challenger submarine. He had developed this submarine to travel to the deepest spot on the planet called the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Cameron made several stops on this journey to talk with young people about his amazing voyage into the Challenger Deep. "By telling the story to school-kids in a hands-on way, we can inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and explorers," he told the Cape Cod Today website. At the end of his trip, Cameron donated the Deepsea Challenger to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

      Filmography:

      Avatar 2 (2014)

      James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge 3D (2014)

      Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (2012)

      Side by Side (2012)

      Sanctum (2011)

      Avatar (2009)

      Aliens of the Deep (2005)

      Solaris (2002)

      Muse (1999)

      Titanic (1997)

      Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across (1997)

      Strange Days (1997)

      True Lies (1994)

      Last Action Hero (1993)

      Point Break (1991)

      Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

      The Abyss (1989)

      Aliens (1986)

      The Terminator (1985)

      Galaxy of Terror (1985)

    Politics

    Financially, James Cameron has a Democratic history. Between 1992 and 2004, Cameron contributed $8,000 to Democratic candidates. But his most recent–and largest–single donation went to the California Republican Party, possibly indicating a shift in his ideology. But despite living in California for more than 20 years, Cameron is still a Canadian national, so American politics are secondary to him and he can’t actually vote. He did apply for U.S. citizenship at one point, but then withdrew his application when George W. Bush won a second term as president in 2004. One would be hard-pressed to call Cameron a liberal, though. He’s a peacenik, but in a somewhat contradictory way. He said: I suppose you could say I believe in peace through superior firepower. I don’t believe that the human race is going to suddenly evolve to the point that we can all join hands and sing ‘Kumbaya.’ That’s probably realistic. He’s quite realistic, actually. He said of Obama in 2012, as election mud was being slung:

    'I think we all feel a sense of disappointment in Obama that promises were not kept. But I also think that he’s been handed the tiller just as the ship went into the rapids'.

    Party affiliation: Democratic Party

    Religion

    Cameron’s parents are said to have grown up in “traditional families with religious values” and brought James up in a Protestant Christian home. Cameron, however, has bucked the traditions of his childhood and has moved from agnostic to full-blown atheist. It is reported that Cameron used to consider himself an agnostic, but has since called agnosticism “cowardly atheism.” His aversion to religion began in his childhood. When the other kids in Cameron’s school were saying the Lord’s Prayer, he declined to join in, calling it a “tribal chant.” Cameron has since attempted to debunk any claims of supernatural miracles in Christianity with his documentary film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The film claims to have found the remains of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, and their children. Citing the names on the tombs and DNA evidence, the film seeks to show that Jesus was a regular guy who died and was not resurrected. The “scientific results” of the film were largely dismissed, even by the scientists who worked for Cameron. Still, it takes quite the religious antagonist to try to disprove Christianity.

    Denomination: Agnostic

    Views

    Quotations: 1. "I do an awful lot of scuba diving. I love to be on the ocean, under the ocean. I live next to the ocean".

    2. "I had pictured myself as a filmmaker but I had never pictured myself as a director if that makes any sense at all".

    3. " I had read tons of science fiction. I was fascinated by other worlds, other environments. For me, it was fantasy, but it was not fantasy in the sense of pure escapism".

    4. "I love short trips to New York; to me it is the finest three-day town on earth".

    5. "I mean, you have to be able - you have to have made the commitment within yourself to do whatever it takes to get the job done and to try to inspire other people to do it, because obviously the first rule is you can't do it by yourself".

    6. "I was always fascinated by engineering. Maybe it was an attempt maybe to get my father's respect or interest, or maybe it was just a genetic love of technology, but I was always trying to build things".

    7. "It took me a long time to realize that you have to have a bit of an interlanguage with actors. You have to give them something that they can act with".

    8. "The film industry is about saying 'no' to people, and inherently you cannot take 'no' for an answer".

    9. "The films that influenced me were so disparate that there's almost no pattern".

    10."The magic doesn't come from within the director's mind, it comes from within the hearts of the actors".

    11. "There are many talented people who haven't fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith".

    12. "You know, in the film making business no one ever gives you anything".

    Personality

    Tenderhearted and sympathetic to an unusual degree, James Cameron has an understanding of other people's feelings and needs which borders on telepathy. James Cameron is extremely compassionate and cannot bear to see any fellow creature - human or animal - suffer. Because of his kindness and nonjudgmental attitude, people suffering from pain or confusion are drawn to Cameron for help, which he readily gives. Sometimes Cameron's soft-heartedness is taken advantage of. He is a gentle, poetic soul and has a great love and affinity for music. Because many of his feelings are vague and he cannot easily verbalize how he experiences life, music seems a natural language for Cameron. He is also extremely romantic and often "in love with love". James Cameron has a childlike openness and playfulness that is very appealing to others but sometimes gets him into trouble, as James takes risks on an impulse or a whim. He is temperamental and impatient and can be very difficult to live with. He is easygoing, agreeable and tolerant, willing to overlook others' mistakes, forget the past, and begin anew on a positive note. He enjoys making others comfortable and happy, and he sometimes overdoes his generosity. James Cameron often feels that "everything will turn out all right no matter what I do", thereby becoming lazy and lackadaisical. Cameron is a very sociable, congenial person and he wilts very quickly without relationships with good friends and people to share good times with. James Cameron thoroughly enjoys working with others on group projects or community activities. He is quite happy when he is a part of a club, support group or team of some sort.

    He is rich in feelings and has the ability to express them well. James Cameron has a knack for making others feel good and is likely to enjoy a harmonious sex-life. James also has a strong need to create and may have a flair for designing fashionable clothes.

    Quotes from others about the person

    Arnold Schwarzenegger:

    "My friend James Cameron and I made three films together - True Lies, The Terminator and Terminator 2. Of course, that was during his early, low-budget, art-house period".

    Matt Damon:

    "The only sci-fi movie that I've ever been offered that, had circumstances been different, I would have definitely done, was 'Avatar.' And I literally couldn't do it because of my schedule. But listening to James Cameron talk about 'Avatar' was so fascinating. Because he literally invented the world in his mind - and it literally existed".

    Kathryn Bigelow:

    "When James Cameron brought me the script, which I developed with both Cameron and Jay Cocks, I wanted to make it a thriller, an action film, but with a conscience, and I found that it had elements of social realism".

    Sam Worthington:

    “Jim and I had sort of a love-hate relationship. He pushed me and everybody else. But, I think any movie has conflict while you’re making it. That’s why you put sand in an oyster to get a pearl. That, to me, is what making is a movie is about. Jim looks at it like you’re going to war, but out of that comes solidarity. Out of that comes commitment to the cause. Out of that comes excitement. You surprise yourself".

    Interests

    Sport & Clubs: Scuba diving

    Favourite actors: Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn, Earl Boen, Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jenette Gold, stein, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, William Wisher, Jr.,Sam Worthington. Plant-based eating, environmentalism. Favorite calor - blue.

    Music & Bands: Jazz

    Connections

    • James Francis Cameron is the proud descendant of a grand Scottish clan- Clan Cameron. His father, Phillip Cameron, worked as an electrical engineer and that was the reason James studied physics at California State University. His mother, Shirley (née Lowe) was a nurse who was also an artist. He inherited the love for art from his mother.

      James Cameron’s Siblings- John David Cameron and Mike Cameron.
    • father: Philip Cameron - Canada - electrical engineer
    • mother: Shirley Cameron - Canada - artist
    • brother: John David Cameron - writer, producer, artist
      John Cameron is a well-known writer, producer, artist as well as a military adviser.
    • brother: Mike Cameron - aerospace engineer, stunt performer
      He is James’ talented younger brother who is both aerospace engineer and a stunt performer.
    • Wife: Sharon Williams - United States - waitress
      James Cameron has been married five times. His first marriage was to Sharon Williams, who worked as a waitress. They were married for 12 years but it ended in 1984.
    • Wife: Gale Anne Hurd - United States - producer
      Gale Anne Hurd was born on October 25, 1955 in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from Stanford University, she joined New World Pictures as executive assistant to Roger Corman, the company president. She worked her way up through various administrative positions and eventually became involved in production. She formed her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, in 1982 and went on to produce a number of box-office hits including The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986) and The Abyss (1989). All were directed by James Cameron, whom she later married and divorced. She also later married and divorced Brian De Palma. She is currently the recording secretary for the Producers Guild of America.
    • Wife: Kathryn Bigelow - United States
      A very talented painter, Kathryn spent two years at the San Francisco Art Institute. At 20, she won a scholarship to the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. She was given a studio in a former Offtrack Betting building, literally in an old bank vault, where she made art and waited to be critiqued by people like Richard Serra, Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Sontag. Later she earned a scholarship to study film at Columbia University School of Arts, graduating in 1979. She was also a member of the British avant garde cultural group, Art and Language. Kathryn is the only child of the manager of a paint factory and a librarian.
    • Wife: Linda Hamilton - United States - actress
      Linda Carroll Hamilton was born on September 26, 1956 in Salisbury, Maryland, to Barbara K. (Holt) and Carroll Stanford Hamilton, a physician. Following Wicomico High School, she studied for two years at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, before moving on to acting studies in New York. In New York, she attended acting workshops given by Lee Strasberg. Her first roles were small roles in television series, with her biggest break coming with her role as Sarah Connor in The Terminator (1984). She became well-known to the public from her role on the television series Beauty and the Beast (1987), until her appearance in the blockbuster sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) brought her greater fame, which she did not capitalize on. Other films include Mr. Destiny (1990), Silent Fall (1994) and Dante's Peak (1997). She has also starred in several acclaimed made-for-TV movies.
    • Wife: Suzy Amis - United States - Actress and Model
      Born on January 5, 1962 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Susan Elizabeth "Suzy" Amis first worked as a Ford model before she began acting in the 1980s. She made her film debut in the comedy film Fandango (1985), opposite Kevin Costner. After that, Amis next had roles in Rocket Gibraltar (1988), Where the Heart Is (1990), Rich in Love (1992) and The Ballad of Little Jo (1993). She later appeared in Blown Away (1994), The Usual Suspects (1995) and Titanic (1997) in which she played Rose DeWitt Bukater's granddaughter Lizzy Calvert. That same year, she starred opposite Tom Selleck in the television Western Last Stand at Saber River (1997) and appeared in the horror film Nadja (1994). Amis retired from acting after her last appearance in the science fiction action film Judgment Day (1999).
    • Daughter: Josephine Archer Cameron - United States
      She is his first child and daughter of Linda Hamilton. She was born on February 15, 1993.
    • Daughter: Claire Cameron - United States
      She is his first child with Suzy Amis and was born on April 4, 2001.
    • Son: Quinn Cameron - United States
      He is James’ only son and his second child with Suzy Amis. He was born on September 9, 2003.
    • Daughter: Elizabeth Rose Cameron - United States
      She is the third child of James Cameron and Suzy Amis and was born on December 29, 2006.
    James Cameron
    See on larger map
    Born August 16, 1954
    (age 63)
    Nationality
    Ethnicity:
    • 1960
      High School
    • 1980
      Art director, Battle Beyond the Stars
    • 1992
      Founder,head, Lightstorm Entertainment
      California
    • 1993 - 1998
      board director, Digital Domain
      Los Angeles

    Award

    Contributor  

    Katya Lyakhovskaya last changed 17/11/2011 view changes
    Anna Gushtyn last changed 16/05/2012 view changes

    Tatyana Pikulik

    last changed 08/07/2015 view changes
    • Relatives
      • Josephine Cameron
    • General Info
    • Personality
    Go
    up
    Edit Profile