James Cameron Was Such a Cinematic Genius He Dreamt Up an Entire $2B Franchise While Under High Fever

James Cameron Was Such a Cinematic Genius He Dreamt Up an Entire $2B Franchise While Under High Fever
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Considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers of this generation, James Cameron has given numerous films not limited to one genre. From action to an epic romance drama, he can do it all, even though it is difficult to imagine the creativity and imagination to regularly come up with ideas that are so successful. Some of his most popular films are Avatar, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Titanic, which also happens to be some of the highest-grossing films of all time.

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James Cameron
James Cameron

While James Cameron has given some of the highest-grossing movies of all time, he is known for his sci-fi flick The Terminator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, the origin of the franchise was quite unique and interesting as Cameron talks about his inspiration and the conditions that helped him to come up with the idea of the smash-hit franchise.

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James Cameron Came Up With The Terminator During a Fever

James Cameron’s low-budget science fiction thriller The Terminator has grown to become one of the most loved and renowned franchises around the world. His ambition only increased as the film had met success and its special effects were praised for being ahead of its time.

James Cameron on the set of The Terminator
James Cameron on the set of The Terminator

The opening scene of the 1984 film looks like something out of your worst nightmare and it turns out that the inspiration that struck him was similar in nature as well. In an interview on The Terminator Blu-Ray, the True Lies director recalls how he came up with the idea of the Terminator franchise when he was sick in Rome and started getting visions for the film.

“I was sick at the time. I had a high fever. I was just lying on the bed thinking and came up with all this bizarre imagery … I think also the idea that because I was in a foreign city by myself and I felt very dissociated from humanity in general, it was very easy to project myself into these two characters from the future who were out of sync, out of time, out of place.”

James Cameron with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of The Terminator
James Cameron with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of The Terminator

Cameron added that several of the scenes and character build-up are a result of the dream and nightmare qualities that enter the film.

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“What I found effective on Terminator was to do a slow-motion build-up, or to subtly segway into slow-motion where you almost don’t realize it, and it becomes a dreamlike pace or that dilation of time that you experience when you’re in a traffic accident and it’s happening and you can’t stop it and time seems to stretch.”

While Cameron came up with an outstanding franchise, he talks about in a separate interview how he started sketching a chrome skeleton emerging from a fire.

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James Cameron’s First Idea For The Terminator Franchise

In the new edition of BFI Film Classics study by James French, Cameron recollects how his high fever, helped him come up with the first interpretations of the cyborgs, and he started sketching the first ideas after he woke up, and some of the first interpretations also made it to the final cut of the film.

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James Cameron with the chrome skeleton of The Terminator
James Cameron with the chrome skeleton of The Terminator

“The Terminator came from a dream that I had while I was sick with a fever in a cheap pensione in Rome in 1981. It was the image of a chrome skeleton emerging from a fire. When I woke up, I began sketching on the hotel stationery.”

“The first sketch I did showed a metal skeleton cut in half at the waist, crawling over a tile floor, using a large kitchen knife to pull itself forward while reaching out with the other hand. In a second drawing, the character is threatening a crawling woman. Minus the kitchen knife, these images became the finale of The Terminator almost exactly.”

Perhaps, James Cameron is one of the few talents who is so creative that his mind can not afford to rest, and even in high fever, he would come up with an idea that would become a multibillion-dollar franchise.

Also Read: “Can’t you talk a little bit faster?”: Acclaimed Director Was Annoyed With Jack Nicholson After His Unique Act Almost Tanked the Film

The Terminator can be streamed on Max.

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Written by Tushar Auddy

Articles Published: 974

Tushar Auddy, Content Writer. He has been in the entertainment industry for 3 years and is always on the lookout for a captivating story. He is a student of Linguistics and is currently pursuing his Master's degree in the same field. He has a passion for literature that runs deep and loves nothing more than getting lost in a novel for hours on end. When he isn't reading, you'll find him capturing the beauty of language.