Making a Statement

March 31, 2012

The Devil of the Deep Blue Sea

James Cameron has cooler hobbies than you. He makes overblown techno-movies that turn $500 million into $1 billion, collects a fat slice of that (deservedly), and uses it to build his own cutting edge submersibles festooned with cameras and recording equipment including his own one-man submarine that he then pilots to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean, 7 miles down in the Mariana Trench. He made the two highest-grossing films of all time, Titanic and Avatar, and it seems like he did so largely to fund his passion for dicking about at the bottom of the sea and for building better machines to help him do so. It should also be noted that James Cameron, when he collected his Academy Award for Best Director in 1997, stood in front of a worldwide audience of 60 million people and declared that he was Satan.

Well, his exact words were, “I’m the king of the world!”, which were interpreted by the pedestrian, benighted onlookers as being merely a notable quote from Titanic, the film he was being awarded for, but to the keen ear of the initiated the hidden meaning was unmistakable. The term ‘King of the World’ is rendered in Latin as ‘Rex Mundi’ which is an alternate title and name for Leviathan, or Satan, depending on the precise occult esoterica one subscribes to. Simple, really.

Oddly enough, Rex Mundi is generally held to be a difficult and very demanding man to work for. Crew members working on his films famously wore t-shirts proclaiming, “you can’t scare me, I work for James Cameron” whilst famous actors have publicly spoken about physical dangers and emotional breakdowns on sets, as well as their refusals to ever work with the director again. Of his filmography to date, The Abyss (1989) is recognized as one of Cameron’s toughest and most notorious shoots. It involved the construction of the then-largest freshwater tank of filtered water in the world to capture the extensive underwater scenes, long and grueling hours of filming underwater, and numerous other difficulties that resulted in inevitable delays and the film running well over its initial budget. It also produced some of the finest anecdotes and tales concerning the driven and intractable filmmaker.

The following excerpt, from the book Titanic and the Making of James Cameron by Paula Parisi (pg 23), details what happened when an unctuous studio suit turned up unannounced on the set of The Abyss and foolishly fucked with the King of the World. Charlie Arneson, a marine biologist and undersea photographer who worked on the film, recalls the arrival on set of Harold Schneider, a producer from Fox likely alarmed by the stories of the troubled shoot and there to see what was going on.

“Harold’s back is to the door, and Jim (Cameron) stood there behind him and listened for like thirty seconds, and then he goes, ‘What the fuck are you doing on my set?’ And Harold Schneider turns around and puts his arms out and he goes, ‘Jim! Jim! Don’t worry, I’m just here trying to mix in with the group.’ And Jim, without actually touching him, starts jabbing is finger at the guy, going ‘I never want to see you on my fucking set! I want you off this fucking set right now! If you want to direct this fucking movie, you can direct it. If you’re not off this set in five seconds I’m leaving!’ And Harold Schneider’s going, ‘Jimmy, Jimmy, just…’ and Jim goes, ‘If there’s one thing I hate more than some jerk showing up on my set, it’s somebody calling me Jimmy! Don’t you ever fucking call me Jimmy again!’ And the next thing Harold is trying to take Jim by the arm, going, ‘Just calm down!’ and Jim goes, ‘If there’s one thing I hate more than somebody calling me Jimmy, it’s someone touching me. You never fucking touch me. If you touch me again I’ll kill you!’ It was just escalating to the point where the next thing Jim was going to do was drop a nuclear bomb, you know?”

At one point Cameron grabbed Schneider by the collar and backed him to the edge of the dive platform, leaning him over the forty-foot precipice and threatening to let go. Harold Schneider and friends beat a hasty retreat from A tank, making their way shakily down the ramp to the white limousine and riding off into the sunrise, at which point Cameron turned to Arneson and deadpanned, “Sometimes you just have to make a statement.”



  1. Glad to see I’m not the ony James who despises the patronizing appellation of Jimmy.

  2. I don’t like being called Dave or Davey. I’m into the Old Testament thing, you know? First high king of Israel and father to Solomon the Wise. No way they were calling that motherfucker “Dave” when he was conquering the shit out of Jerusalem.

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