In 1991, director James Cameron released Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the most expensive movie ever made. In 1994, Cameron released True Lies, the most expensive movie ever made. In 1997, Cameron released Titanic, the most expensive movie ever made. In 2009, Cameron released Avatar, the most expensive movie ever made. Even if the sequel Avatar: The Way of Water won’t set a similar record when it hits theaters next month, one thing is abundantly clear: James Cameron makes big movies.
But if you asked him about his giant-sized movies, the famously cantankerous director would probably take you to task. “I’m way over this whole thing, this question that I get asked all the time,” he vented in a conversation with GQ this week, in response to those who’ve asked him whether he’d ever just make “a little movie with just a couple of actors.” Cameron countered, “Yeah, I make that movie every time I make a big movie.” That might seem like a bold and unlikely claim, but he points out that “On a given day I might be doing a scene with two actors in a room, me handholding the camera. How is that any different than the smallest independent film? It’s just that maybe the next day I’m doing a battle with 40,000 people. I like to do that too.”
It’s hard to argue with his logic. While we all remember fantastic set pieces like the highway chase scene in Terminator 2 or the ship sinking in Titanic, it tends to be the smaller conversations that stay with people. It’s John Connor teaching the T-800 to say “Hasta La Vista Baby” or Jack sacrificing himself for Rose.
For Cameron, even his gigantic movies are fundamentally personal because they come from an intimate place: his dreams. “I have my own private streaming service that’s better than any of that shit out there,” the director boasted in his usual style. “And it runs every night for free.”