James Cameron has worked with both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. He had great respect for both of them and eventually realized that Schwarzenegger and Stallone were once two of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
But Cameron felt that her standing in Hollywood could portend a larger cultural problem in Hollywood.
Cameron has created a variety of strong and iconic characters without gender being a barrier. He is known for portraying women in action roles that Hollywood used to typically reserve for men. It’s one of his contributions to cinema that Cameron felt helped set him apart from other filmmakers.
“I’m basically a pretty hardcore feminist. I have no problem writing a script where the males become submissive to the females, which is what happens in there Foreigner… It’s up to Ripley to win the day. There aren’t too many male writers and directors who are comfortable with that. I think it’s deeply hardwired,” Cameron once said in an interview with Vulture.
It wasn’t easy for Cameron to swap out a male character for a female when a man was writing strong female characters. This required looking from the perspective of women in general. He used what he did with his own characters as an example.
“Sarah Connor didn’t become an icon from the start terminator but from the second, when she was a mother. The same goes for Ripley: almost extraterrestrial I don’t think that without the mother aspect, without the emotional aspect, Ripley would have had the stature of an iconic strong female character. Her strength is an emotional strength, and it’s an intellectual strength, her innate intelligence as a survivor,” Cameron added.
Cameron has worked with arguably two of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. His collaboration with the former has been extensive as the two have worked side by side for the terminator Franchise.
He also worked with Schwarzenegger on the film True Lies. Meanwhile, his work with Stallone hasn’t been as profound. The two only narrowly worked together on the film Rambo: First blood part 2. Cameron helped write the sequel. Only to later have his work completely redone by Stallone himself.
“I admire the film’s success and am happy for everyone involved, but I always have to distance myself from it because it’s not the film I wrote – it was completely rewritten by Sylvester Stallone. The screenplay that I wrote was quite violent, but not in such a moral way,” he once said in an interview with the LA times (via Terminator Files).
But as Cameron attempted to compare Stallone and Schwarzenegger, he briefly reflected on their star power in the industry. Which he believed spoke to a larger symptom in Hollywood’s cultural landscape.
“I know very little about Stallone because my work with him consisted of having lunch to discuss the script. He said, ‘I think you should put a girl in it.’ So I can’t really compare the two. It’s interesting that the two highest paid stars in the world are such ultra masculine characters. I think that’s what is translated cross-culturally. Which is depressing when you analyze it,” Cameron said.
Despite all the strides Hollywood has made, many felt that there were still a lot more improvements to be made when it comes to female roles. Cameron believed that because of film industry expectations, women still did not have the same opportunities to direct films as men.
“Hollywood is also a culture that rewards a certain kind of beauty and behavior patterns, so it’s hard for actresses to produce amazing, strong actresses,” Cameron said. “I don’t mean physically strong but strong in their emotional power, who can take a film and carry it and be the one on the marquee. You think of people like Tom Cruise and Matt Damon who run action franchises, and it doesn’t happen that often with women because they can’t get the bat to hit the home run.”
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