The Billion-Dollar Man
Set in the future on a moon named Pandora, Avatar tells the story of man's attempts to trick an indigenous population into letting humans mine a precious resource. Every second of this nearly three-hour epic story was born in Cameron's imagination. With a team of 3,000 people and 10,000 computers, Cameron pushed the limits of filmmaking and helped invent new 3D technology to bring his fantasy world to life. Four and a half years later, Cameron's vision became a reality on the big screen.
Avatar also prompted Oprah and Stedman to do something they haven't tried since the 1990s—go to the movies! "We haven't been out to a movie since Dances with Wolves. That is the honest to the goodness truth," she says. "All I can say after seeing this movie [is] 'wowie kazowie.' I have never seen anything like that movie."
In many ways, Cameron says Avatar is unlike any film he's ever made. "Normally, I can't watch my own movies because I know every detail of them. But I so love stuff like, say, the flying sequences because I didn't do the final photography. It was done by the visual effects guys," he says. "When I see those shots, I can marvel at them like everybody else does."
To bring this lush world to life, Cameron hired a botanist to create, design and name every single plant. Since making the film, Cameron says his appreciation for nature has only grown. "I look at trees differently now. I'll look at a tree and say, 'Wow, that's a beautiful tree.' I would never have said that before," he says.
Cameron credits some of the movie's success to the universality of its messages. "You can overplay how important a movie is in the zeitgeist," he says. "But I do think [this makes an impact] with the environmental message and the idea that we are all kind of connected as human beings to each other."
In fact, Cameron only took a handful of days off in the four and a half years it took to make Avatar. "I took a half day off for the swine flu," he says. "I went in the next day even with a fever and just kept going."
When he takes time for himself, Cameron says he likes to ride dirt bikes or scuba dive. Above all, though, he loves to spend time at home. "Fun for me is hanging out with the kids. Playing Lego," he says. "My daughter's kind of a junior scientist, so we like to do little science projects together. You know, just being with the family."
And we may be seeing a familiar face in the next film—Cameron and his special effects wizards have already created an alien avatar of Oprah! "Very nice," Oprah says. "That's what I love. The Avatar diet plan."
"You look hot in blue," Cameron says.
James Cameron's fearless females