James Cameron Poster

Quotes (111)

  • People call me a perfectionist, but I'm not. I'm a rightist. I do something until it's right, and then I move on to the next thing.
  • ...you can read all the books about filmmaking, all the articles in American Cinematographer and that sort of thing, but you have to really see how it works on a day-to-day basis, and how to pace your energy so that you can survive the film, which was a lesson that took me a long time to learn.
  • I was petrified at the start of The Terminator (1984). First of all, I was working with a star, at least I thought of him as a star at the time. Arnold came out of it even more a star.
  • I went from driving a truck to becoming a movie director, with a little time working with Roger Corman in between. When I wrote The Terminator (1984), I sold the rights at that time - that was my shot to get the film made. So I've never owned the rights in the time that the franchise has been developed. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to direct the second film and do so on my own creative terms, which was good. But that was in 1991 and I've felt like it was time to move on. The primary reason for making a third one was financial, and that didn't strike me as organic enough a reason to be making a film.
  • Well, I see our potential destruction and the potential salvation as human beings coming from technology and how we use it, how we master it and how we prevent it from mastering us. Titanic (1997) was as much about that theme as the Terminator films, and in Aliens (1986), it's the reliance on technology that defeats the marines, but it's technology being used properly that allows Sigourney's character to prevail at the end. And Titanic (1997) is all about technology, metaphorically as well as on a literal level, because the world was being transformed by the technology at that time. And people were rescued from the Titanic because of wireless technology, and because of the advances that had been made only in the year or so before the ship sank that allowed them to call for help when they were lost at sea in the middle of the North Atlantic. So I think it's an interesting theme, one that's always been fascinating for me...
  • A director's job is to make something happen and it doesn't happen by itself. So you wheedle, you cajole, you flatter people, you tell them what needs to be done. And if you don't bring a passion and an intensity to it, you shouldn't be doing it.
  • [on using newly developed 3D cameras, and traditional film] "If I never touch film again, I'd be happy. Filmmaking is not about film, not about sprockets. It's about ideas, it's about images, it's about imagination, it's about storytelling. If I had the cameras I'm using now when I was shooting Titanic (1997), I would have shot it using them."
  • As much as I love Star Wars (1977) and as much as it's really revolutionized the imaging business, it went off the rails in the sense that science fiction, historically, was a science fiction of ideas. It was thematic fiction. It stopped being that and became just pure eye candy and pure entertainment. And I miss that. With Alita: Battle Angel (2019). I'm going to flirt with that darker, dystopian message as much as I can, without making it an art film.
  • [on the future of 3D] "With digital 3D projection, we will be entering a new age of cinema. Audiences will be seeing something which was never technically possible before the age of digital cinema - a stunning visual experience which 'turbocharges' the viewing of the biggest, must-see movies. The biggest action, visual effects and fantasy movies will soon be shot in 3D. And all-CG animated films can easily be converted to 3D, without additional cost if it is done as they are made. Soon audiences will associate 3D with the highest level of visual content in the market, and seek out that premium experience."
  • [Talking about the appeal of the Terminator]: "It's fun to fantasize being a guy who can do whatever he wants. This Terminator guy is indestructible. He can be as rude as he wants. He can walk through a door, go through a plate-glass window and just get up, brush off impacts from bullets. It's like the dark side of Superman, in a sense. I think it has a great cathartic value to people who wish they could just splinter open the door to their boss's office, walk in, break his desk in half, grab him by the throat and throw him out the window and get away with it. Everybody has that little demon that wants to be able to do whatever it wants, the bad kid that never gets punished."
  • [About dropping several sequences from the finished film of the Terminator]: "We had to cut scenes I was in love with in order to save money."
  • [About the budget for the original Terminator]: "They were extremely hesitant about going over $4 million. We convinced them this movie could not be made for less than $6 million, especially with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring, because he commanded a significant salary; the final shooting budget was actually $6.5 million."
  • The only compelling reason for me to have done that film was a sense of pride of authorship. "Well, dammit, I did the first one and I did the second one and it's my creation and I should do the third one. But ultimately, that's a stupid reason to spend a year, year and a half of your life in hell to make a big movie. I'd rather spend a year of my life in hell to make something new, which is what I will be doing. - [about his reason to decline Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)]
  • So, what I said was, "If they come up with a decent script that you like and you think you can play, do something cool, and they pay you an awful lot of money, you should just go do it. Don't feel like you're betraying me or anything else."" - [about his view on Arnold Schwarzenegger for doing Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)]
  • I guess Titanic (1997) because it made the most money. No, I'm kidding. I don't really have a favourite. Maybe The Terminator (1984) because that was the film that was the first one back when I was essentially a truck driver. - [about his favourite movie he directed]
  • That was the purest experience, even though it was the cheapest one and the cheesiest looking one. - [about The Terminator (1984)]
  • I've always enjoyed it when it was John Woo in his Hong Kong days like Lat sau san taam (1992), but I think it's overused now. - [on Hong Kong film making styles]
  • I don't look at scripts. I just write them.
  • Basically because I had told the story. To make Terminator 3 was to make a 3. - [about his reason to decline Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)]
  • It just never really gelled and then the September 11th attacks happened and the idea of a domestic comedy adventure film about an anti-terrorism unit just didn't seem all that funny to me anymore. - [about his reason to decline True Lies 2]
  • So, Spider-Man (2002) was obviously good casting for him (Sam Raimi). I mean, he was good casting to do Spider-Man (2002). Would I have done it differently? Yeah, absolutely. It would've been a very different film, but that's the film you've never seen. I've seen it.
  • Of the three that we're planning, it's a question of the order, one's historical and two are science fiction. None are ocean. - [about his future projects]
  • [When he was the new hot screenwriter in the mid-1980s] "I haven't paid for lunch in two weeks."
  • [When interviewer asks if he thought he had a hit on his hands] "We had been dragged across a cheese grater, face down, for two solid years, and we thought we had the biggest money-losing film in history. Then we had our first preview screening in Minneapolis, and there was a woman sitting behind me - I had no idea who she was: a Minneapolis housewife, maybe - who narrated the entire film. She was like a Pez dispenser: everything just popped out of her mouth. I just kind of leant my chair back so I could hear what she was saying. I remember distinctly the moment when Jack and Rose are shaking hands when they are about to part, and Rose is saying, 'You're very presumptuous,' and the woman sitting behind me is saying, 'Yes, but you're not letting go of his hand, are you?' That was the moment when I knew the movie was communicating exactly the way it was meant to."
  • [on how he came up with the idea of The Terminator (1984)] "I would see these images of a metallic death figure rising Phoenix-like out of fire, I woke up and grabbed a pencil and paper and started writing. When I originally got the idea for Terminator, I was sick, I was broke, I was in Rome, I had no way to get home and I could barely speak the language. I was surrounded by people I could not get help from. I felt very alienated and so it was very easy for me to imagine a machine with a gun. At the point of the greatest alienation in my life, it was easy to create the character."
  • [on Robert Patrick's casting as the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)] "I wanted someone who was extremely fast and agile. If the T-800 is a human Panzer tank, then the T-1000 is a Porsche."
  • On Sigourney Weaver: I like her very much. She's just a natural. Not too exotic. Very hard-nosed, intelligent. And flawed too, in the sense she is flawed by emotion. People root for her in Alien (1979) because she's so often coming up with the logical solution to some problem and then it just won't work.
  • On Stanley Kubrick: I remember going with a great sense of anticipation to each new Stanley Kubrick film and thinking, "Can he pull it off and amaze me again?" And he always did. The lesson I learned from Kubrick was, never do the same thing twice.
  • (When asked how did he come up with the story for Avatar (2009)) Well, my inspiration is every single science fiction book I read as a kid. And a few that weren't science fiction. The Edgar Rice Burroughs books, H. Rider Haggard - the manly, jungle adventure writers. I wanted to do an old fashioned jungle adventure, just set it on another planet, and play by those rules.
  • I kind of turned my back on the Terminator world when there was early talk about a third film. I'd evolved beyond it. I don't regret that, but I have to live with the consequence, which is that I keep seeing it resurrected. I'm not involved in Terminator Salvation (2009). I've never read the script. I'm sure I'll be paying 10 bucks to see it like everybody else.
  • I don't think anything resembling The Terminator (1984) is really going to happen. There certainly aren't going to be genocidal wars waged by machines a few generations from now. The stories function more on a symbolic level, and that's why people key into them.
  • [on his reputation as a harsh and demanding taskmaster] I push people to get the best out of them. And the same applies to me. If I come home at the end of a day of filming and my hands are not black, I feel that was a day wasted.
  • There is this long, wonderful history of the human race written in blood. We have this tendency to just take what we want. And that's how we treat the natural world as well. There's this sense of we're here, we're big, we've got the guns, we've got the technology, therefore we're entitled to every damn thing on this planet. That's not how it works and we're going to find out the hard way if we don't kind of wise up and start seeking a life that's in balance with the natural life on Earth.
  • On Avatar (2009): My approach to 3-D is in a way quite conservative. We're making a two-and-a-half-hour-plus film and I don't want to assault the eye every five seconds. I want it to be comfortable. I want you to forget after a few minutes that you are really watching 3-D and just have it operate at a subliminal, subconscious level. That's the key to great 3-D and it makes the audience feel like real participants in what's going on.
  • I came to filmmaking in the early '80s, and it was a time of deep economic recession. It was a time when VHS home video was taking money from the theaters. The film industry was depressed. That's what I knew - a state of upheaval and change. It all sorted itself out. These things always sort themselves out. The fundamental question is: is cinema staying or is it going away? I think it shows no signs of going away. I feel quite confident you (Peter Jackson) and I are going to make the kinds of films we love 10 and 20 years from now.
  • If I did Titanic (1997) today, I'd do it very differently. There wouldn't be a 750-foot-long set. There would be small set pieces integrated into a large CGI set. I wouldn't have to wait seven days to get the perfect sunset for the kiss scene. We'd shoot it in front of a green screen, and we'd choose our sunset.
  • I see a very similar pattern, in a sense, between Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009). Not that they are similar films because they are not - totally different subjects - but in both cases, you have people coming back over and over to see the film.
  • The key to a sequel is to meet audience expectation and yet be surprising.
  • [on Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)] I'd like to see him reinvent it in the same way Batman got reinvented very successfully. The last two Batman pictures (Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008)) - actually, they're the only two I can watch. I couldn't stand the other ones.
  • [on making Aliens (1986) at Pinewood Studios in England] The Pinewood crew were lazy, insolent and arrogant. We despised them and they despised us. The one thing that kept me going was the certain knowledge that I would drive out of the gate of Pinewood and never come back.
  • I can't think of anything that I see on a screen these days without thinking how much better it'd look in 3-D! If I see a movie I really like...Like, I'm watching King Kong (2005) I think, "Man! That'd be great in 3-D!" Everything's better in 3-D! Everything! A scene in the snow with two people talking...in 3-D...It's amazing! You're in the snow! You feel the snow.
  • Guillermo del Toro is one of my best friends and we've never really worked together. I mean, we always feel like we're working together because he gets all involved in my stuff, I get all involved with his stuff, but not in an official capacity.
  • [on Planet of the Apes (2001)] They turned out, I think, possibly the most egregious film that they could have on that subject because they miscast the director. It's the only Tim Burton film that I don't like.
  • Ridley Scott and I talked about doing another Alien (1979) film and I said to 20th Century Fox that I would develop a fifth Alien (1979) film. I started working on a story, I was working with another writer and Fox came back to me and said, "We've got this really good script for AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) and I got pretty upset. I said, "You do that, you're going to kill the validity of the franchise in my mind. Because to me, that was Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). It was Universal just taking their assets and starting to play them off against each other. Milking it. So, I stopped work. Then I saw AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) and it was actually pretty good. (laughs) I think of the five Alien films, I'd rate it third.
  • [on Piranha 3D (2010)] It is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th Part III (1982). When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip. And that's not what's happening now with 3D.
  • (On his childhood) I spent all my free time in the town library and I read an awful lot of science fiction and the line between reality and fantasy blurred. I was as interested in the reality of biology as I was in reading science fiction stories about genetic mutations and post-nuclear war environments and inter-stellar traveling, meeting alien races, and all that sort of thing. I read so voraciously. It was tonnage. I rode a school bus for an hour each way in high school because they put me in an academic program that could only be serviced by this high school much further away. So I had two hours a day on the bus and I tried to read a book a day. I averaged a book every other day, but if I got really interested in something it was propped up behind my math book or my science book all during the day in class.
  • (On his childhood) My mother was definitely an influence in giving me a respect for art and the arts and especially the visual arts. I used to go with her to museums, and when I was learning to draw I would sketch things in the museum, whether it was an Etruscan helmet, or a mummy, or whatever. I was fascinated by all that. 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. And sometimes being a builder can put you in a leadership position when you're a kid. "Hey, let's build a go-kart. You go get the wheels and you get this," and pretty soon you're at the center of a project.
  • 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.
  • We did The Terminator (1984) for the cost of Arnold's motor home on the second one.
  • [on CGI technology] How about another Dirty Harry movie where Clint Eastwood looks the way he looked in 1975? Or a James Bond movie where Sean Connery looks the way he did in Dr. No (1962)? How cool would that be? There's no way to scan what's underneath the surface to what the actor is feeling. If Tom Cruise left instructions for his estate that it was okay to use his likeness in Mission Impossible movies for the next 500 years, I would say that would be fine. You could put Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart in a movie together, but it wouldn't be them. You'd have to have somebody play them. And that's where I think you cross an ethical boundary.
  • [on his plan in 2012 to solo dive 6.8 miles (11 kilometers) into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest spot on the planet] When you're making a movie, everybody's read the script and they know what's going to happen next. When you're on an expedition, nature hasn't read the script, the ocean hasn't read the script, and no one knows what's going to happen next.
  • [his advice to young directors] The respect of your team is more important than all the laurels in the world. Don't put limitations on yourself, other people will do that for you. Don't do it to yourself, don't bet against yourself and take risks. NASA has this phrase that they like "failure is not an option," but failure HAS to be an option, in art and in exploration. Because it's a leap of faith. And no important endeavor that required innovation was done without risk. You have to be willing to take those risks. In whatever you're doing, failure is an option, but fear is not.
  • Curiosity - it's the most powerful thing you own. Imagination is a force that can actually manifest a reality.
  • [on where the creatures in Aliens (1986) came from] I have Ripley specifically telling a member of the inquiry board, "I already told you, it was not indigenous, it was a derelict spacecraft, an alien ship, it was not from there." That seems clear enough. Don't ask me where it was from... there are some things man was not meant to know. Presumably, the derelict pilot (space jockey, big dental patient, etc.) became infected en route to somewhere and set down on the barren planetoid to isolate the dangerous creatures, setting up the warning beacon as his last act. What happened to the creature that emerged from him? Ask Ridley Scott. As to the purpose of the Alien... I think that's clear. They're just trying to make a living, same as us. It's not their fault that they happen to be disgusting parasitical predators, any more than a black widow spider or a cobra can be blamed for its biological nature.
  • [on the possible origins of the Space Jockey (or the dental patient as he calls it) in Alien (1979) an idea explored in Prometheus (2012)] Clearly, the dental patient was a sole crew member on a one-man ship. Perhaps his homeworld did know of his demise, but felt it was pointless to rescue a doomed person. Perhaps he was a volunteer or a draftee on the hazardous mission of bio-isolating these organisms. Perhaps he was a military pilot, delivering the alien eggs as a bio-weapon in some ancient interstellar war humans know nothing of, and got infected inadvertently.
  • [on Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys (2015)] I was talking to him back in fall about a new Terminator film and quietly advising on that. I was trying to be as encouraging as possible. Frankly, at that time, I thought it needed to be more about him. I told him he should not do it until it's focused on his character. I think there are some great stories that can be told about that character that haven't even been thought of yet.
  • I think from the standpoint of the Hollywood mainstream, they got up one morning and opened the trades and went, 'What the hell is this movie that's number one this weekend?' And, by the way, it was number one the next weekend and the weekend after that. It dominated the Thanksgiving weekend against a couple of big pictures, like Dune (1984), for example, and 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984), which were big studio pictures. Actually, 2010 was a big studio picture and Dune was a high-end independent film. But these were mega-buck movies and Terminator just steam rolled over them. And it had been done by these nonentities. (NOTE: in actual fact, The Terminator was number 1 in the last weekend of October 1984 and the first weekend of November 1984. 2010 and Dune both opened in December 1984, not the Thanksgiving weekend, and 2010 out-grossed The Terminator by over $2 million).
  • [what he thought of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)] In one word, great.
  • [why he will never return to the Terminator franchise] The series has kind of run its course, and frankly, the soup's already been pissed in by other filmmakers.
  • I'm still very committed about raising awareness about the dangers of climate change at a time when there is all the denial and disinformation machinery designed to confuse people and create doubt - on an issue about which there is no doubt in the scientific community. We are facing the biggest challenge the human species has ever faced. And we're all going to have to work together to solve it.
  • I do think Hollywood movies get it wrong when they show women in action roles - they basically make them men. Or else they make them into superheroes in shiny black suits, which is just not as interesting.
  • To me, [writing roles for strong women] is just another challenge. It doesn't matter to me if it's an engineering challenge, a scientific challenge, a writing challenge - for a man to write a woman and make her interesting to women as well as men, it's a challenge. Maybe it's just a quest to understand women who are sometimes inscrutable
  • I didn't want to raise [my children] in that poisonous atmosphere. There's a climate of materialism in Los Angeles. We're all vegan, we grow our own organic food at our ranch in California, and we'll continue to do that in New Zealand. You want your kids to grow up with a certain set of values.
  • I'm a huge movie fan. I love watching films. I love watching films with the family, with the kids; I love watching films myself. I was out there opening night [for] Prometheus (2012). I didn't go to the Thursday midnight screening, but I was there Friday. I like to still get excited about movies and whether they pay off or not, that's not the point.
  • I enjoyed Prometheus (2012); I thought it was great. I thought it was Ridley returning to science fiction with gusto, with great tactical performance, beautiful photography, great native 3D. There might have been a few things that I would have done differently, but that's not the point, you could say that about any movie.
  • I'd be hard-pressed to imagine creating a vehicle for an actor that I like. For me, the movie comes first and if the actor fits, they fit. And I'll think pretty far out of the box about what "fitting" means, even contemplate re-working a character to fit an actor I really admire. But, I can't imagine writing a vehicle for an actor. That's just not my process. There are a lot of young actors -- always new actors coming up who are good -- I'm not going to name any names, but I certainly keep my eye out.
  • Prometheus (2012) is a film I saw twice, and I thought about it ahead of time. The first time I would just enjoy it, go for the ride, not be too analytical and the second time I would allow myself to be a little more analytical about, you know, where the lights were and how they lit the shots with all the people in the helmets, how they probably had to do CG faceplates like we did on Avatar (2009), things like that.
  • I don't have a TV. I took it out of the house. I was watching too much TV, so I took it out.
  • (On Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park (1993)) I tried to buy the book rights and he beat me to it by a few hours. But when I saw the film, I realised that I was not the right person to make the film, he was. Because he made a dinosaur movie for kids, and mine would have been Aliens (1986) with dinosaurs, and that wouldn't have been fair. Dinosaurs are for 8-year-olds. We can all enjoy it, too, but kids get dinosaurs and they should not have been excluded for that. His sensibility was right for that film, I'd have gone further, nastier, much nastier.
  • [on veganism] It's not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it. So it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere.
  • [on Avatar 2 (2022)] Sequels are always tricky: you have to be surprising and stay ahead of audience anticipation. At the same time, you have to massage their feet with things that they know and love about the first film. I've walked that line in the past.
  • There's an aspect of movie-making that rewards bad behavior. You're working with a team of people and you tell them what you want and a few weeks later they've forgotten everything. So you scream at them and somehow they remember. Not my actors, though - I've always been very circumspect with them.
  • [on being sued for plagiarism] It is a sad reality of our business that whenever there is a successful film, people come out of the woodwork claiming that their ideas were used. Avatar (2009) was my most personal film, drawing upon themes and concepts that I had been exploring for decades.
  • [to Arnold Schwarzenegger when they first met] You are the Terminator.
  • The Terminator is neither good nor evil.
  • Every time I start a film, I have a fantasy that it will be like a big family, and we'll have a good time, and we'll have all of these wonderful, creative moments together. But that's not what filmmaking is; it's a battle.
  • [on Gravity (2013)] I was stunned, absolutely floored. I think it's the best space photography ever done, I think it's the best space film ever done, and it's the movie I've been hungry to see for an awful long time... What is interesting is the human dimension. Alfonso [Alfonso Cuarón] and Sandra [Sandra Bullock] working together to create an absolutely seamless portrayal of a woman fighting for her life in zero gravity.
  • [on Prometheus (2012)] I thought it was thought-provoking and beautifully, visually-mounted, but at the end of the day it didn't add up logically. But I enjoyed it, and I'm glad it was made. I liked it better than the previous two Alien sequels. And it was done in native 3D and I'm a big fan of Native 3D done by directors who embrace it as an art form, like [Ridley Scott], [Martin Scorsese}, Ang Lee.
  • [on working with Arnold Schwarzenegger on True Lies 2] We abandoned True Lies 2 after 9/11, because we didn't think a comedy about fundamentalist terrorists was so funny anymore. And then we never picked it up again.
  • I've never had nightmares about Terminators after I made the film. I had nightmares that inspired the film. But I always feel that making the film is the catharsis that stops the nightmares, if you will. For example, I used to always have nightmares about giant waves, tsunamis essentially. And when I made The Abyss (1989), which had a giant wave scene in it, those stopped.
  • [on Aliens (1986)] I think I was following in the footsteps of the first film Alien (1979), which was the classic Ten Little Indians (1965) model where you start out with X number of beloved characters, and have one that prevails. In Aliens (1986), three characters prevail at the end. So I would say Aliens (1986) is more about family bonds, even though it's a pseudo-family in the film, and cooperation against an enemy. So it doesn't exactly follow the slasher model.
  • I think that there was a moment of magic, pure magic, of coming together with the lens, when we shot the kiss at the bow of the ship during Titanic (1997). The way the sun set, we were all inspired to run to get the shot and we had seconds to do it. There was no rehearsal, we didn't have time, but the actors did beautifully. We did two takes, one that was out of focus and one that was half out of focus, and the one that was used was the one that was half out of focus. And it was beautiful.
  • [on Neil deGrasse Tyson pointing out that the sky in his movie Titanic (1997) was wrong] I wasn't particularly embarrassed because I think that's an unbelievably specific nitpick and if that caused him to not enjoy the film, he may need to re-evaluate his priorities. That said, because I'm such a perfectionist, I challenged him to provide me with the correct star fields and incorporated them into the future re-releases of the film. So, if you watch the film now, the stars are correct.
  • [on Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)] I did think that this new Captain America was an interesting film for its genre, in that it tackled this idea of digital surveillance and the kind of dark side of our hyper-connected society.
  • I can point directly to the film that had the biggest early influence on me, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Even though it's not necessarily my favorite film right now, it has a very special place for me developmentally, because when I saw it, I went from someone who enjoyed watching movies to wanting to make movies myself. So I started to experiment with creating that imagery.
  • 48 fps to me is not a format, it's a tool, like music it's good to use sparingly and in the right spot. I believe all movies should be made in 3D, forever, but the projection needs to be better, and brighter. I want people to see in the movie theaters what I am seeing in my perfectly-calibrated screening room, and people aren't seeing that. Larger formats. I'd love to see screens get bigger. In terms of storytelling, I'd like to see Hollywood embrace the caliber of writing in feature films that we're currently seeing in the series on television - more emphasis on character, and less on explosions and pyrotechnics. And I'm talking the big tent-pole movies, I think they're obnoxiously loud and fast.
  • [on possible future contact with aliens] The history on our planet is whenever a superior technology society encounters a society with lesser technology, the superior technology supplants the lesser society. There has never been an exception. So if the aliens come to us, it probably won't go well for us. A thousand years from now, if we're the ones going to where the aliens are, like the story told in Avatar (2009), it won't go so well for the aliens.
  • [on Terminator Genisys (2015)] I pay attention to it but I'm not terribly concerned about it one way or the other. I've had to let it go. There was a point in time where I debated going after the rights... I just felt as a filmmaker maybe I've gone beyond it. I really wasn't that interested. I felt like I'd told the story I wanted to tell. I suppose I could have pursued it more aggressively and gone to the mat for it but I felt like I was laboring in someone else's house in a sense because I had sold the rights very early on.
  • [When asked if there was a book that influenced or inspired him in some way] I remember it more by authors. Arthur Clarke and A.E. van Vogt, all of the mainstream old guard of science fiction at that time. In the latter years of high school I got into the newer guys of that time, Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven, people like that. It was a steady diet of science fiction.
  • [on Avatar (2009)] At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1991) was among the videos that I used as a reference. Tom Berenger did some real interesting stuff in that film. Also The Emerald Forest (1985) which maybe thematically isn't that connected but it did have that clash of civilizations or of cultures. That was another reference point for me. There was some beautiful stuff in that film. I just gathered all this stuff in and then you look at it through the lens of science fiction and it comes out looking very different but it still recognizable in a universal story way. It's almost comfortable for the audience - "I know what kind of tale this is." They're not sitting there scratching their heads, they're enjoying it and being taken along - the idea that you feel like you are in a classic story, a story that could have been shaped by Rudyard Kipling or Edgar Rice Burroughs.
  • [on starting production on Avatar 2 (2022)] We do performance capture work. You have to think of it more like an animated film, so it's not really shooting per se. [2016]
  • [Avatar] The expectations are daunting on this film. That's fair after directing Titanic and my other films. Some people will be interested in what's coming next but this is a very different film from what I've done before. It plays by its own rules. As a filmmaker, I just get so focused on the characters that I just forget all the buzz out there and the hype and the expectation and just do what's right for the movie.
  • [Avatar] Some people think of this as an animated film. It's not an animated film because I'm not an animator. I don't want to be an animator. I'm a director. I want to work with actors. A director-centric actor-process.
  • [the designs on Avatar] It's a very joyful experience for me. What you imagine is always kind of hazy. It's like the memory of a dream. You can't be specific. You can draw it but it's a completely new act of creation.
  • [3D] It brings to cinema what better sound or color brought. I'm making it my ethos not to change how I direct my movies or how I do scenes with the actors. I'm trying to make 3D plus the film or turbocharge it but the basic architecture of the engine is the same and that's the only healthy way to view the 3D. The actors don't act any differently for a 3D camera.
  • [an animated film] The performances are created by committee. I don't mean to denigrate that in any way. It's a fantastic art form. I love it. It's just not what I'm good at. What I'm good at is working with actors to create scenes and then editing they're performances to get the absolute best vibrating version of that scene and then share that with the audience. It's an amazing process to go through. Sometimes you think it's not going to work when you get started and then the characters come to life.
  • [Terminator Genisys] The natural follow up to Terminator 2.
  • [Avatar] A complete leap into the unknown. Like a jump off a cliff and madly fabricating a parachute on the way down. It's a lot of fun to be out on the edge and know that you're doing something nobody's ever done before.
  • [Avatar] Some of the design choices were about colors affecting us psychologically, which is why the film has such a striking color palette, like the early days of color cinematography where everything had to be bright and vibrant.
  • Sometimes the more fantastic an idea is the more you have to be very careful about how you design it.
  • [300] Fantastic film. I loved it.
  • I will stand in line for any Ridley Scott movie, even a not-so-great one, because he is such an artist, he's such a filmmaker. I always learn from him. And what he does with going back to his own franchise would be fascinating.
  • [on the Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)] I always say: if Terminator was about the war between the humans and the machines, look around any restaurant or airport lounge and tell me the machines haven't won when every human you see is enslaved to their device. So could you make a relevant Terminator film now? Absolutely
  • [on the death of his friend and frequent collaborator Bill Paxton]: I've been reeling from this for the past half hour, trying to wrap my mind and heart around it. Bill leaves such a void. He and I were close friends for 36 years, since we met on the set of a Roger Corman ultra-low budget movie. He came in to work on set, and I slapped a paint brush in his hand and pointed to a wall, saying "Paint that!" We quickly recognized the creative spark in each other and became fast friends. What followed was 36 years of making films together, helping develop each others projects, going on scuba diving trips together, watching each others kids growing up, even diving the Titanic wreck together in Russian subs. It was a friendship of laughter, adventure, love of cinema, and mutual respect. Bill wrote beautiful heartfelt and thoughtful letters, an anachronism in this age of digital shorthand. He took good care of his relationships with people, always caring and present for others. He was a good man, a great actor, and a creative dynamo. I hope that amid the gaudy din of Oscar night, people will take a moment to remember this wonderful man, not just for all the hours of joy he brought to us with his vivid screen presence, but for the great human that he was. The world is a lesser place for his passing, and I will profoundly miss him.
  • [on the Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)] A lot of the things that were science fiction in Terminator are now around us,. You know, from predator drones and actual discussions on the ethics of having a robot have its own kill decision possibilities. Things like that. It's actually happening. So, okay, maybe there is room for a film that examines these themes. It just has to be retooled for an audiences' expectations now.
  • I thought that Alien: Covenant (2017) was a great ride. It was beautiful. I love [Ridley Scott's films and I love his filmmaking, I love the beauty of the photography, I love the visceral sense that you're there, that you're present. It's not a film that I would have made. I don't like films where you invest in a character and they get destroyed at the end. I would not have made that film. I can't comment on where Ridley is going with it but I think he is obviously trying to create a greater universe around it and more backstory with the Engineers and so on. I'll show up for the next one, absolutely.
  • I thought that Alien: Covenant (2017) was a great ride. It was beautiful. I love Ridley's films, I love his filmmaking; I love the beauty of the photography. I love the visceral sense that you're present. It's not a film that I would have made. I hope I'm not spoiling this for anybody, but I don't like films where you invest in a character and they get destroyed at the end. So, I would not have made that film. I can't comment on where he's going with it, but I think he's, obviously, trying to create a greater universe around it and more backstory with the Engineers and so on. I'll show up to the next one, absolutely. [2017]
  • If people are still arguing about a movie (Titanic), a Hollywood movie, 20 years later, it just means that what Leo created with that character was so endearing to so many people that it was actually hard for them to see him die. That's what movies are all about. We should celebrate the fact that they wish he had gotten on the damn door... It makes me smile because it makes me realize how impactful Leonardo's performance and the character he created was to this day.
  • You are never too big to pitch your own story. If I have to stand on a table and tap dance, I will do it.
  • [on shooting films with higher frame rates] The 3D shows you a window into reality; the higher frame rate takes the glass out of the window. In fact, it is just reality. It is really stunning.
  • [on being sued by Sandy Arcara for $1.5 million for the rights to "The Minds of Billy Milligan", after having already paid $250,000] I don't negotiate with terrorists or extortionists, so I told her to take a flying fuck and I collapsed the project.