James Cameron won an Oscar and made a lot of money as a result of Titanic. He hasn’t directed a feature since, but he has kept himself busy, including producing Steven Soderbergh’s critically divided Solaris. PAUL FISCHER reports.
Paul Fischer: You said recently that Solaris had been cut once and then re-cut. Can you describe that version oppose to the release version?
Cameron: Well that’s an interesting area because there really was not a first cut. Steven shot the film and he showed it to us a week later…you gotta understand that Steven’s process and testing, I mean look, as a filmmaker I’m so insecure that I have to wait until every effects shot is in and everything is done, and the music, and I’m putting on the biggest show. I’m out there tap dancing as fast as I can, right. Steven’s idea is, well, this probably wont work, but let’s find out, and I think this scene probably doesn’t play, and let me see how they get the connection between this. He treats it like a laboratory, and he’s willing to go back over and over and over again. I totally respect that aspect of it, for him it’s just a reductive process. It’s chipping away at the marble to make a sculpture.
P.F.: Did everyone expect a lot more from you after Titanic and is that why you’re taking so long to make another feature film?
Cameron: I’ve been working my ass off for the last five years just haven’t been making feature films. I’ve been doing a lot of other things that are very interesting to me, and developing new technologies, and things that I’ll be using in future films. I very much enjoy the process of producing with other filmmakers, especially with somebody as talented as Steven. I’ve learned a lot from him, just watching his way of looking at the world and looking at film.
P.F: Is there a True Lies 2 on the horizon?
Cameron: I put that in limbo after September 11. I just didn’t feel comfortable making a romantic comedy about international terrorism, to be perfectly honest.
P.F.: Are you involved at all in T3?
Cameron: None whatsoever…they sent me a script early on. I had told them I really wasn’t that interested. They sent me the script anyway, in the off chance cause Arnold really wanted me to be involved, and I didn’t really care for it, and to be perfectly honest I felt that I told the story. I felt I’d told the story and I closed it off, so could you tell more? Sure, obviously, Hollywood is infinitely inventive when it comes to figuring out ways to continuing a franchise.
P.F. Getting involved in this film you obviously had to become another partner in an already successful relationship between Clooney and Soderbergh. How did you interact with them?
Cameron: Well we didn’t really interact that much because I never really went to the set. That’s my—to me that’s like a good thing. Thinking as a director, as a director what would be my ideal producer? A producer that never went to the set, so I only want to work with directors that are grown ups that can go make a movie themselves and don’t really need me there on a moment by moment basis. I think that the producer’s role is more of creative oversight at a distance, and in the pre-production and post-production process, because the set is the domain of the director, absolutely. So I wasn’t involved in their day to day creative process, but from what I’ve observed which I think everybody has seen is that they’re close, they’re friends, and there’s absolute trust between George and Steven. Steven, I think knows George’s potential as an actor more than George does, and George puts his blind faith in Steven—not blind faith, but I think he’s learned enough over the years of television and all the films he’s done to be cautious and in control of the process as an actor which everybody learns when they reach that point of stardom. There must be a tremendous sense of release for him to be able to let all that go. Everybody’s made a big deal about George’s nudity in the film, but the real nakedness in this film was his emotional nakedness as a performer. Because he’s standing there naked saying I don’t even understand necessarily what this scene means in the larger sense. You have to tell me, and you have to tell me what to do, and that is a very interesting relationship.
SOLARIS OPENS ON FRIDAY