It sounds like time and success have chilled James Cameron right the hell out. According to Kate Winslet, who suffered a few injuries on the Cameron-driven movie Titanic, where her fame really started to kick off, the director has been far different from their first time together. The work she’s done on the Avatar sequels at this point makes it clear that she believes he’s calmed down quite a bit. It’s very possible that Cameron is still a perfectionist, but if what Winslet is saying is true then it’s very possible that having been through the wringer a couple of times has done wonders for his ability to finally calm himself and pay attention to the cast and crew that depend on him, instead of trying to make sure everything he does is astounding. If anyone’s been paying attention, Titanic was so intense and Cameron was in such tight control of the project that actors that were in the water for certain shots would actually take a restroom break right then and there as they peed in the water rather than asking for a moment to visit the facilities. Obviously that can get kind of nasty, but given the volume of water they were stuck in it’s also likely that this disgusting fact wasn’t something that people were going to let go of until it came time to do interviews.
But getting back to James Cameron, it’s likely that he’s still a bit of a control freak when it comes to his movies since such qualities don’t just up and go away overnight, but it’s also likely that time has helped him to mellow out, as has the idea that his movies have been a success more often than not. His failure with Terminator: Dark Fate, after talking so much about how the other movies had trashed the franchise, was a pretty big misstep, but it could have also had something to do with how he’s approaching his Avatar sequels as well, given that humility is hard to come by sometimes, but it can really manage to put a damper on a person’s more fiery and impassioned instincts when it comes to creating something. For some folks, it actually tempers them in a way that makes it clear that spouting off at the mouth about this or that isn’t wise when one has managed to trip over their own feet and create a mess that was supposed to be the rekindling of something that could have gone on to be another classic. Make no mistake, Dark Fate was not a way to revive the franchise, and if someone happens to think that it might be wise to move on with the idea, then they’re setting themselves up for a rocky, uphill climb. But when it comes to Cameron, it could be that this unfortunate failure was enough to help him realize that as great of a director as he is, he’s not immune to making bad movies.
Time can do a lot for a person when it comes to any change that’s to be seen in their character and habits, but success can do this just as well. Unfortunately, success can go to a person’s head a bit too often, whereas time and experience can at least grant wisdom if a person is willing to take advantage of the tools that come with the passing of years. Winslet and many others might want to think that the success of the first Avatar movie might have helped to push James over a hump and get him to calm down, but personally I do happen to think that losing out to The Hurt Locker during the Academy Awards and the epic flop that was Dark Fate have had something to do with it as well. These kinds of things tend to remind people that while James is in fact great, he’s human, and he’s prone to error as much as anyone, especially when it comes to what he thinks is a worthy story. Many would spring to his defense in a heartbeat and they’d be right to do so since he has shown that he has the talent to make something great happen when he’s on a set. But those same individuals might need to remember that James Cameron wasn’t always the same director that so many have come to know and value at this time. He had to grow, he had to learn, and he had to gain the kind of experience that allowed him to create movies such as The Terminator, and its sequel, Titanic, and Avatar. He wasn’t born with this, he had to earn it, and time and experience have shown that he’s done plenty with the talents and renown that he’s earned. He’s changed for the better it sounds like, but don’t go thinking that it was always this way.