James Cameron talks 'Avatar': Exclusive quotes from this week's issue

It’s been 15 years — and hundreds of millions of dollars — in the making. Now, James Cameron’s Avatar is just a week away from hitting theaters. As the buzz becomes deafening, Cameron sat with EW’s Josh Rottenberg to talk about taking risks, being the underdog, and why he thinks Terminator 2 holds up — but Aliens doesn’t. Check out a few highlights below, and pick up our current issue for the full Q&A.

On early reactions comparing the Na’vi to Smurfs and Jar Jar Binks: “I think the Smurfs thing is funny, personally. Jar Jar is a bit of a low blow.”

On his target audience: “When you’re making a movie that costs $200 million… your target audience is people with a pulse and $15 — or even just $15.”

On his work ethic: “I took half a day off for the swine flu back in May.”

On whether or not Avatar will be profitable: “If we announce Avatar 2, we made money. If we didn’t make money, we’re a bunch of dumb f—s. But we still made 2,000 jobs for three years, and that’s a good thing.”

On the legacy of Titanic: “It’s like nobody admits they went to see Titanic, like it was something you did when you were a kid that you’re not too proud of now, like wearing bell-bottoms.”

For more on James Cameron and Avatar, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now. And check back at EW.com on Monday for our Q&A with Avatar star Sigourney Weaver.

Photo Credit: Mark Fellman

Comments (43 total) Add your comment
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  • Jane Austen

    did the boat sink?

    • sparkle the gym bag

      SPOILER ALERT! (in best lame EW fashion)yes and they are still making more Terminator stuff

  • crispy

    I think the Smurfs jokes are funny too. Nice to see he has a sense of humor about it.

  • Kelsey

    “But we still made 2,000 jobs for three years.”
    What an awesome guy. THIS is what the movies are, it’s a job for thousands of people who will largely remain anonymous. It’s nice to see that while Cameron is clearly proud and protective of his film, he understands what it is at its root — it’s a job.
    I’m still holding out on a full Avatar cover at some point. Maybe it will even come out about two weeks out of date, like the Sandra Bullock cover, but I still want it nonetheless. :-)

  • J

    It’s not in the NY newstands yet, and here it usually comes out on friday

  • Ryan

    The guy does sound like the greatest boss you could ever work for. The closer I get to it, and the more I realize that he is self aware or weird the blue people look, and of the terrible marketing campaign, the more interested I am.

    • UncleWalty

      actually, the word from many of those who have worked with him is that he’s a real pr*ck. So it goes.

      • cas

        Most directors are. You kind of have to be, I think, in order keep 2,000 people on budget, on schedule, and on the same page.

      • Jeff Eastwood

        When French & Saunders did their parody of “Titanic,” their version of Mr. Cameron (they called him “James Macaroon”) was a maniacal, gun-toting director who enjoyed shooting incompetent crew members. Not saying he’s anything like that but it WAS hilarious =^)

  • nezo

    ive been following the development of this movie and have agreed regarding the movie’s downside/negative aspects but still i was looking forward to watching the flick. I’m glad to see the positive reviews from rottentomatoes flooding in.

    However, I can’t help but laugh at Cameron’s “When you’re making a movie that costs $200 million…” Oh James…

  • J.

    I hope this is James-Cameron-good.

  • crispy

    One of my friends on Facebook just called me an Avatard. Hah! I guess I deserve that for all my Twi-hate.

    • John

      Can that please be the official Avatar fan name?!

  • UncleWalty

    I wish he had done the last 3 Star Wars movies instead of this. I’d LOVE to have seen him work on that…

    • cas

      Hmmm… interesting idea.

  • Kevin

    Dude’s nuts if he thinks T-2 holds up better than Aliens…Aliens is the far superior movie (T-2 has Edward Furlong dragging it down BIG TIME!).

    • crispy

      Agreed. My James Cameron list in order of favorites would have to be:
      Aliens
      The Abyss
      Titanic
      T2
      Terminator
      True Lies

      • John

        No disrespect to your list from me. I just want to chime in and give True Lies some love. Such a fun flick.

      • chattypatra

        I agree with John. After all these years, True Lies still makes me laugh out loud!

    • Kevin

      How silly. Edward was a great John Conner. The only one who’s gotten it right so far! Too bad everything else he ever did sucked so hard.

      Aliens totally holds up. True Lies was fun, but so mindless that it has trouble holding on to its sheen. Titanic? Never saw it. Why the hell would I want to do that to myself.

      • MarkG

        Don’t you just love people who say they have never seen “Titanic”, when you know good and well they have, if for no other reason but to see what all the fuss is about. Which is considerable, and continues to this day, for good and bad….

      • Kevin

        Sigh. Just because you got suckered into the hype, don’t accuse me! I really don’t need to come here to lie anonymously… (I just found out the other day that when Cameron won his Oscar was was all “I feel like the king of the world!” that it was from Titanic… I thought he was doing a riff on James Cagney as in “Top of the world, ma!” and thought he got the quote wrong! True story…)

      • crispy

        Never saw Titanic? Riiiiight. Well, you’re missing out. It’s a special effects masterpiece. The final hour when the ship goes down is a eyeball peeler that even the most ardent Leo haters can appreciate.

      • Mac

        You didn’t see the ship sink and all the social elite fall off, smacking into propellers on the dive in? Well then, you’re missing out.

      • Kevin

        So first I was wrong for supposedly seeing it and lying about it and now I’m in the wrong for never having seen it? What, should we be forced to watch it at birth or something? The shots I saw (granted on TV) of flyarounds on the outside of the ship looked really fake. Almost as fake as some of the effects in Avator (granted, I am not seeing them in 3D where they may work great).

        And I don’t hate Leo DeCaprio. Why would I?

      • SomeDude

        His personal life did destroy his career, but I must inform you of an INCREDIBLE film called “American History X” which he starred in. Easily the best film of his career…powerful. The end of that movie will shake you for the rest of the day (and that comes from a diehard Cameron/T2 fan).

      • Jackie D

        Too bad. Titanic was a good movie. Being the #1 film of all time is testament to that fact. But to each his own. I’m sure I wouldn’t go see films that you would deem excellent.

    • The Original Kevin

      Just to clarify, I am the Kevin the made the first post in this section of replies and I do not support or agree with the subsequent Kevin who seems a tad douchy. Titanic was OK…edit out the poorly written “romance” and you’ve got a pretty good flick. I’d say Aliens, The Abyss, and the first Terminator are Cameron’s best movies.

  • tpatrick

    Who started this Jar Jar thing – oh, must’ve been Spike Lee.

    • RyRyNYC

      LOL… that hilarious about Spike’s rumor starting. I laughed so hard

  • RyRyNYC

    I have to agree with Cameron about people “hating to admit” they saw Titanic… I hate when people talk sh*t about it (as EW has over the decade) b/c it was the most successful film. It is a good quality film, point blank first of all. Second, if it were not for Titanic we would not have Kate Winslet in all those astounding roles post-1997. Third, as some else mentioned about the visual effects – it was one of the few films to marriage big visual effects budget with classic filmmaking (a prime example of a PROPER “Epic”-genre film) and story telling without lame robots or mattel dolls flying around in aluminum space suits…

  • Lia

    I like his sense of humor

  • kathy C

    I was teaching 5th grade in a moderate income area when Titanic came out.. the girls in my class saw the movie several times. I still remember one girl who saw it 15 times.. I knew of very few over the age of 30 who saw it in the theater. The young girls, the teens is what drove that move.. Leonardo and all and dying for is love and all. I waited and watched on HBO.. way over rated.

  • Karen C

    I’m a person who has never seen Titanic and I have no desire to see it. I saw part of a program on TV about the making of Titanic and that was enough.

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