The blockbuster director has a reputation for being obsessive and writing strong female characters. As the 3D version of Terminator 2 hits screens, he talks about how he will never reproduce the shock of the original film and how he has learned to be nice on set
The last time I interviewed James Cameron, the worlds most successful and frequently self-parodic director, we did not end on the best of notes. It was 2012 and Cameron had come over from his ranch in New Zealand to the Titanic museum in Belfast to promote the 3D Blu-ray release of Titanic. If you think that he would have been less than enthused about flying halfway around the world to talk about a movie he had made 14 years ago just because it was now in a format few truly give a fig about, you dont know about James Cameron.
Even in a town full of megalomaniac monsters, stories about Camerons obsessiveness are part of Hollywood legend: he would get so enraged when crew members phones rang on the Avatar set he would nail-gun them to the wall (the phones, not the crew members, that is, although it probably could have gone either way). During the shooting of The Abyss, the crew took to wearing T-shirts that said: You cant scare me, I work for Jim Cameron.
During our interview back then, in which he talked about the 3D-ification of a 12-year-old movie as if it were the most important development in cinema, he pretty well maintained his temper so it seemed safe to ask the question Id always wondered about Titanic: Why couldnt Rose just share her giant board with Jack instead of leaving him to freeze in the ocean? His face pinked with fury: Wait a minute, Im going to call up William Shakespeare and ask why Romeo and Juliet had to die! You cant scare me, I interviewed Jim Cameron.
This time we are meeting in a hotel down the road from his home in Malibu, and we are once again talking about an old movie of his that he has rendered three-dimensional: Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But while he looks like the Cameron I met before all 6ft-plus of him, with a puff of white hair and bright blue eyes there is something undeniably different. Instead of prowling around the room, now he is relaxing in a chair, his handshake friendly as opposed to bone-crushing. Has he, perhaps, changed in the past few years?