Childhood & Early Life
James Francis Cameron was born on August 16, 1954, in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, to Phillip and Shirley.
The young Cameron pursued his education from 'Stamford Collegiate School ' in Ontario, and later from 'Troy High School,' California. He began attending 'Fullerton College' for a course in Physics, but dropped out before graduating.
While working as a truck driver to support himself, this aspiring filmmaker learnt all that he could about special effects in movies.
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In 1978, James Cameron was inspired by 'Screenplay,' a book by American screenwriter Syd Field, and wrote the script for a movie titled 'Xenogenesis.' The script, which was shot in 35mm reel, was a ten-minute sci-fi film.
Soon, he was hired by 'Roger Corman Studios' to make miniature models for low-investment films. He was later appointed as the art director for the 1980 movie 'Battle Beyond the Stars.' The next two years, he worked on science fictions films like 'Escape from New York,' 'Galaxy of Terror,' and 'Android.'
During this time, he also began working on 'Piranha II: The Spawning,' a sequel to the earlier sci-fi horror movie ‘Piranha.’ He first worked as the special effects in-charge, and later as the director. While shooting the film, he failed to capture a close-up shot of Carole Davis, and was fired. However, he stayed back to help producer Ovidio Assonitis as an assistant director.
In 1984, James' first major project 'The Terminator' was released under 'Pacific Western Productions,' owned by his former colleague Gale Anne Hurd. The movie, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was made with a budget of $6.5 million, but went on to earn more than $78 million.
Cameron wrote the screenplay for 'Rambo: First Blood Part II.' Released in 1985, the film was later edited by Sylvester Stallone. The movie, directed by George P. Cosmatos, proved to be extremely successful at the box-office.
In 1986, James came up with 'Aliens,' a sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 film ‘Alien.’ The movie was a hit, grossing millions of dollars. It also received several 'Academy Award' nominations.
The 1989 film 'The Abyss' was Cameron's next movie, where he cast actors Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in lead roles. The movie, which boasted of real underwater shooting, was made on an expensive budget of $41 million.
In 1991, 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' was released, where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton reprised their respective roles from the previous movie. The film went on to gross more than $500 million, and won four 'Oscars' for 'Best Visual Effects,' 'Best Makeup,' 'Best Sound Mixing,' and 'Best Sound Effects Editing.'
In 1993, the director teamed up with special effects experts Scott Ross and Stan Winston to establish a firm named 'Digital Domain.' The company, located in California, is known for creating spectacular special effects for movies.
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During 1994-95, films like 'True Lies,' starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and 'Strange Days,' starring Ralph Fiennes in the lead, were released. Both the movies were well-received by critics. While the former enjoyed success at the box-office, the latter did poorly in terms of collecting money.
1997 saw the release of the cult movie 'Titanic' which had Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in lead roles. Made on a high budget of $200 million, it failed to generate enough revenue in the first few weeks. However, it soon impressed the audiences, becoming the highest earning movie of all time, and grossing $600.8 million. It accumulated a whopping $2 billion worldwide.
From 2000-02, the famous director made a shift to television series, and created the sci-fi show 'Dark Angel' with Jessica Alba in the lead.
For the next few years, he also concentrated on making documentary films under his banner, 'Earthship Productions.' The remarkable director made documentaries, such as 'Expedition: Bismarck,' 'Ghosts of the Abyss,' 'Aliens of the Deep,' and 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus.'
He also produced the movie 'Solaris,' starring George Clooney in the lead. The movie was directed by Steven Soderbergh.
In 2009, the film 'Avatar' was released in 3D. Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, the film was a technical marvel. It was directed, co-produced, and written by Cameron, and its technicalities proved to be ground-breaking in the world of cinema. The film earned $1 billion and broke Titanic's record of being the highest grossing film.
Two years later, the gifted director worked as the executive producer in an Australian 3D movie titled 'Sanctum.'
‘Titanic,’ a movie made by this talented director, held the record of highest grossing movie until it was broken by ‘Avatar.’ ‘Titanic’ grossed over 600 million dollars, and catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to stardom. Nominated for 14 ‘Academy Awards,’ it won 11 including ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director.’ It collected a massive $2 billion at the box-office worldwide.
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‘Avatar,’ released in 2009, is the most famous movie made by Cameron. It was made using cutting-edge technology to produce 3D special effects. After releasing worldwide, it set the record for the highest grossing movie, earning more than 700 million dollars. It was nominated for nine ‘Academy Awards’ and won three of them. It was the highest grossing film worldwide, collecting a whopping $2.7 billion, until it was overtaken by ‘Avengers: Endgame’ in 2019.
Awards & Achievements
In 1992, this exceptional director was honored by the 'Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America' with the ‘Bradbury Award' for his film 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day.'
For 'Titanic,' he received several honors, including 'Academy Awards' in the 'Best Director,' 'Best Film Editing,' and 'Best Picture' categories. He also received the 'Golden Globe' award for the film in 1998.
From 1998 to 2004, several honorary doctorates were awarded to him by various universities, such as the 'Carleton University,' Ottawa, 'Brock University,' Ontario, 'Ryerson University,' Toronto, 'California State University,' Fullerton, and 'University of Southampton,' England.
In 2010, the filmmaker was felicitated with the 'Visual Effects Society Lifetime Achievement Award' for the movie 'Avatar.' The movie won him several other awards, including 'Golden Globe’ for ‘Best Motion Picture – Drama.'
The same year, he topped the 2010 ‘Guardian Film Power 100’ list, and also featured as one of 'The World's 50 Most Influential Figures' in the British magazine ‘New Statesman.’
Personal Life & Legacy
From 1978 to 1999, this famous director entered wedlock on four occasions, his spouses being Sharon Williams, producer Gale Anne Hurd, filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow, and 'The Terminator' star Linda Hamilton.
In 2000, he got married to American actor Suzy Amis, whom he had met on the sets of 'Titanic.'
James has a daughter named Josephine with Linda Hamilton, and three children with Suzy.
The director, who lives in New Zealand, is associated with the 'NASA Advisory Council,' and has helped collect funds for a non-profit organization called 'Mars Society.'
He has advocated for the resolution of environmental concerns, holding discussions with 'The United States Environmental Protection Agency' to protect the oceans from oil spills. Along with his family, he became a vegan to contribute towards the well-being of the eco-system.