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June 13, 2014 | 11:49 a.m.

James Cameron recalls his ‘angry wannabe filmmaker’ phase [video]

Writer/director James Cameron photographed during the 2014 Hero Complex Film Festival at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood on May 31, 2014. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)
While writing his 1984 breakout film “Terminator,” James Cameron lived on McDonald’s, diner coffee and the money he made painting one-sheets for bad direct-to-video movies. The director, who would go on to helm the highest-grossing movie of all time, “Avatar,” expressed a surprising fondness for that early, “zero billion dollar” stage of his career while speaking at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival recently. “It was actually easy to write cause I didn’t have to self-isolate like I do now, from multi-tasking with other businesses, and with a family with five kids,” Cameron said, when he took the stage late last month at the event, which was held at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood May 30-June 1. “I was already isolated… basically just a sad, dark, isolated human being.” In an in-depth conversation between screenings of “The Terminator” and its […]
June 12, 2014 | 12:46 p.m.

Schwarzenegger as Kyle Reese?! James Cameron on ‘Terminator’ casting

It’s hard to imagine James Cameron’s 1984 film “The Terminator” starring anyone other than Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role. But there was a moment when that iconic piece of casting was in doubt. Speaking at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival recently, Cameron took the stage for an extended Q&A between screenings of “The Terminator” and its sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” to discuss the making of the movie that launched his and Schwarzenegger’s careers. During the conversation, Cameron recalled how Schwarzenegger nearly didn’t get to deliver his famous line, “I’ll be back.” Instead of the Terminator, the movie’s terrifying, nearly mute cyborg sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor, Schwarzenegger was originally up for the role of Kyle Reese, the movie’s hero, who was ultimately played by Michael Biehn. At the behest of his financiers, who were high on casting […]
June 10, 2014 | 3:17 p.m.

Sigourney Weaver: Will ‘Avatar’ sequels pave way for new ‘Alien’ film?

Could Sigourney Weaver be preparing to revisit one of her most iconic characters? The answer appears to be yes. News broke this week that the actress would return to the world of Pandora for James Cameron’s upcoming sequels to “Avatar,” but speaking at the Hero Complex Film Festival earlier this month, Weaver also pointed out her willingness to play Ellen Ripley, the heroine at the heart of the “Alien” franchise, one final time. “I do feel that there’s more story to tell,” Weaver said. Weaver’s appearance capped off the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. The actress took the stage for an in-depth Q&A between screenings of Ridley Scott’s landmark 1979 science fiction film “Alien” and Cameron’s 1986 sequel “Aliens.” (Cameron was a guest of honor at the festival on Saturday, on […]
June 03, 2014 | 1:10 p.m.

James Cameron details writing strategy for ‘Avatar’ sequels [video]

It takes a village to write three movies at once — or at least that’s how James Cameron is approaching the three “Avatar” sequels. Speaking at the fifth annual Hero Complex Film Festival over the weekend, the “Avatar” director described his strategy for completing the three scripts – which are scheduled to be shot simultaneously beginning later this year — with a technique borrowed from television writers’ rooms. Taking place at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters, the Hero Complex Film Festival featured screenings of Cameron’s seminal 1984 science fiction film “The Terminator” and sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” The director took the stage in between the films for an extended Q&A in which he discussed his progress on scripts for the next big film franchise on his plate, the Pandora-set fantasy “Avatar.” “The first thing I did was I sat for a year and […]
June 01, 2014 | 7:34 a.m.

James Cameron shares ‘Terminator’ memories at Hero Complex Film Festival

Writer/director James Cameron photographed during the 2014 Hero Complex Film Festival at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood on May 31, 2014. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times)
Revolutionary filmmaker James Cameron is one of the most venerated directors working in Hollywood today. But three decades ago, his life was very different. He was earning a living painting one sheets for B-grade movies and using McDonald’s coupons his mother sent to him to eat regular meals. It was during that time that he wrote the script for the film that would transform his career. “I  was a sad, dark, isolated human being,” Cameron recalled during an interview onstage at the 5th annual Hero Complex Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood on Saturday, following a screening of 1984′s “The Terminator.” “There was an innocence to it in a funny way. I was the anonymous, angry wannabe filmmaker, and I think there’s some courage to say whatever comes into your head…. I was a free voice in […]
Aug. 01, 2013 | 12:22 p.m.

‘Avatar’: James Cameron now plans three sequels, hires writers

James Cameron has expanded his plans for his return trip to the world of “Avatar” — he’s now planning three sequels to the massive box office hit, and he’s bringing four new screenwriters along on the journey. Fox announced Thursday that Cameron has hired Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”), Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (“Rise of the Planets of the Apes”), and Shane Salerno (Savages, Salinger) to collaborate with him on the screenplays for the three films, all of which will be shot simultaneously, with production beginning next year. “Avatar 2″ is scheduled to be released in December 2016, with subsequent films following in December 2017 and December 2018. The Fox statement indicated that Cameron and Jon Landau will produce through their Lightstorm Entertainment banner. Lightstorm will again work with Joe Letteri and his team at WETA Digital to […]
April 04, 2013 | 5:15 p.m.

Roger Ebert: A look back at five reviews of fan-favorite films

Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, has died. He was 70 years old. Here, Ebert attends the IFP Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., on March 22, 2003. (Lionel Hahn/Abaca Press/MCT)
Film criticism lost a singularly significant voice Thursday with the death of Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 70. Earlier this week, Ebert had announced he would be taking a “leave of presence” from his writing, but the news of death shocked the film community, with many celebrities taking to Twitter to express their sad surprise and warm memories of the man who, with his longtime partner Gene Siskel, patented “two thumbs up” as a major cinematic endorsement. As a way to pay tribute to Ebert’s lasting legacy and influence, this seemed like a moment to reflect on his thoughts on five landmark fan-favorite movies, specifically, “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Matrix,” “Avatar” and “The Avengers.” Not all of them received an unqualified thumbs up. The following excerpts […]
Sept. 21, 2012 | 3:29 p.m.

James Cameron touts 3-D at home with ‘Avatar,’ ‘Titanic’ Blu-rays

James Cameron has a rule at his house — TV and movie viewing is a family event, not a solo pursuit. “More and more people, especially kids, are taking in their entertainment on tablets and laptops,” said the father of five and director of “Avatar” and “Titanic.” “It’s the, ‘I’m gonna isolate, single viewer’ kind of scenario. I’m not in favor of it personally, ’cause the family fragments…. Everybody’s got their own screen, their own experience.” Cameron has been thinking a lot about couch potato habits lately, as he attempts to help usher 3-D into homes with the introduction of 3-D Blu-ray versions of three of his movies this fall: a “Titanic” 3-D Blu-ray set was released Sept. 10; his Titanic documentary “Ghosts of the Abyss” hit stores Sept. 11; and an “Avatar” 3-D Blu-ray set will debut in North […]
Sept. 10, 2012 | 3:30 p.m.

James Cameron: ‘Avatar’ sequels ‘a daunting writing task’

Avatar (featured image)
James Cameron has always said the hardest part of moviemaking for him is the solitary, unforgiving process of writing, which is precisely where he finds himself now on the “Avatar” sequels. Cameron has devoted most of the last several months to his many, globe-spanning, non-”Avatar” projects — making a record-setting dive to the Mariana Trench, converting “Titanic” to 3-D and expanding his 3-D production company into China. Now the director said he’s about to sequester himself in his “top secret writing cave” to finish the next two “Avatar” scripts by the end of the year. “It’s a little bit of a daunting writing task because it’s two scripts and they’ve both gotta be done at the same time,” Cameron said in an interview last week, while promoting the 3-D Blu-ray release of “Titanic.” Cameron plans to shoot the “Avatar” sequels […]
March 30, 2012 | 1:46 p.m.

James Cameron: ‘Avatar’ sequels to draw on ‘master navigators’

Avatar (featured image)
James Cameron’s alpha geek extracurricular hobby of deep-sea diving has always influenced his day job. The bioluminescent life on Pandora in “Avatar,” the story-framing voyage to the wreck in “Titanic” and the underwater traumas of “The Abyss” all emerged from how the director spends his downtime — way, way down in the ocean. Now Cameron’s recent record-setting solo dive to the Mariana Trench is providing further inspiration for the “Avatar” sequels, which will head to the oceans of Pandora. The filmmaker said the seven-year preparation for his dive–a plunge of nearly seven miles to the deepest point in the world in a torpedo-shaped, one-man submersible called the Deepsea Challenger — sparked ideas for the “Avatar” followups by exposing him to the small island nations of the Western Pacific where he staged the project. “The best inspiration I got for ‘Avatar’ […]
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