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James Cameron Addresses Set Behavior: ‘I Could’ve Listened More’ and ‘Been Less Autocratic’

"I could’ve not made the movie more important than the human interaction of the crew," Cameron said.

James Cameron on the set of "Avatar"

James Cameron on the set of “Avatar”

20th Century Fox. All rights reserved/Courtesy Everett Collection

James Cameron is the latest filmmaker to join MasterClass, and his online course has been broken down into a great highlights package courtesy of /Film. One of the biggest revelations to come out of the MasterClass is the “Titanic” and “Avatar” director calling himself a “tinpot dictator” on set and admitting that he wishes he was a nicer director in the mode of Ron Howard. Cameron has built up a reputation over the years for being a domineering force on set, but he says he thinks of himself more as demanding and never cruel.

In reporting on the Cameron MasterClass, /Film writes: “[The director] does say that if he could go back and do one thing differently in his career, it would be to improve the nature of the working relationships he had with his cast and crew members. ‘I could’ve listened more,’ he says. ‘I could’ve been less autocratic. I could’ve not made the movie more important than the human interaction of the crew.'”

There have been countless set stories over the years detailing Cameron’s reported tyrannical behavior. One report about “The Abyss” from The New York Times claimed that Ed Harris was “so angered by the physical torment of the film and the autocratic ways of Mr. Cameron that he said he would refuse to help sell the picture.”

As recapped by /Film: “Cameron goes on to talk about how the ideal director, in terms of on-set behavior, is certified nice guy Ron Howard. There’s a funny moment where Cameron mentions that he visited one of Howard’s sets once and was ‘dumbfounded’ at how much time Howard takes complimenting people on his set. And while Cameron and Howard are vastly different filmmakers, Cameron adds: ‘I aspire, even today, to try to be my inner Ron Howard.'”

Cameron has spent the last several years working on his “Avatar” sequels,” the first of which, “Avatar 2,” is set for release on December 16, 2022. Three additional “Avatar” movies will follow. Outside of the “Avatar” franchise, Cameron recently produced the National Geographic series “Secrets of the Whales,” now streaming on Disney+.

Head over to /Film’s website for more highlights from Cameron’s MasterClass course.

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