James Cameron — director of Aliens, Terminator 2, Titanic, Avatar — and so on, is a filmmaking legend. The likes of which there have rarely been in the history of Western cinema: maybe 50 or so people. But Cameron is definitely one of them.
And with that credibility comes the ability to do things that perhaps others couldn’t, such as stand up to convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein after — among a litany of literal crimes and misdeeds — bullied Cameron’s buddy, fellow Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro.
In a recent oral history of the year Titanic cleaned up at the Academy Awards, there’s an incredible anecdote in which the famously blunt Cameron describes almost “clocking” Weinstein with his Best Editing trophy after Weinstein got loud with him backstage.
Cameron begins by detailing Weinstein’s treatment of del Toro on the set of his first American movie, the 1997 film Mimic:
“I didn’t know Harvey… I didn’t know anything about him other than what I had learned from Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo and I had been close friends since 1991. He had told me the horrible s**t that Miramax pulled on him when he made his first American commercial film, Mimic, and they fired him,” Cameron told The Hollywood Reporter.
“The actors, led by Mira Sorvino, kind of revolted and wouldn’t work until they brought him back. Then, when the film was successful and well regarded, Harvey sort of jumped up to take praise for the movie.”
Then, the 68-year-old director — who most recently took home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for his work on the Best Picture-nominated Avatar: The Way of Water — said that when Weinstein approached him, he blew him off, which led to the confrontation:
“And so I’m on my way back to my seat with my editing Oscar, and this guy’s jumping up to introduce himself, saying, ‘If you want to come to work at a place that’s a friend of the artist, a friend of the filmmaker’ — he’s holding his hand out, and I just blew him off. It was just an ugly little moment,” Cameron said.
“But, yeah, I did defend Guillermo and I called Harvey on his bulls**t, and then he got very loud and verbally abusive and almost potentially physically violent. And he was about to get clocked by an Oscar — which would’ve been highly appropriate, I think. But I wasn’t thinking about it in those terms; it was just the weapon at hand. The hysterical thing about the whole moment was people around us were saying, ‘Not here! Not here!’ It was kind of like, ‘It’s OK if you boys fight out in the alley, but don’t do it here at the Academy Awards!’
Cameron isn’t the only story of Hollywood stars over the years standing up to Weinstein, as Brad Pitt once apparently threatened him for making his then-girlfriend Gwenith Paltrow feel uncomfortable. They obviously didn’t do enough, however, to keep Weinstein from preying on Hollywood’s women for decades.
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