4. James Cameron
The self-proclaimed "King of the World" will have to go a long way before we forgive him for the unmitigated, sugary dross of Titanic, but when we look at his action track record we can forgive him, almost. There's no denying it - this man knows action and he knows what works. And, boy, does he make it work.
James Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada in 1954 and moved to the US in 1971. The son of an engineer, he majored in physics at the California State University but after graduating, drove a truck to support his screenwriting. He landed his first professional film job as art director, miniature-set builder and process projection supervisor on Roger "King of the B Movies” Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars.
According to Cameron, he got his big break while doing pick-up shots for Galaxy of Terror (1981) as second unit director. He was shooting scenes of a dismembered arm teeming with maggots (actually mealworms). To make them move, he hooked up an AC power cord to the arm, and an unseen assistant would plug it in when the film was rolling.
Two producers were strolling through, and when Cameron yelled, "Action!" the worms began to writhe on cue (because they were being electrocuted!). When he yelled, "Cut!" the worms stopped. The producers were so amazed at his directing prowess that they began talking with him about bigger projects.
His debut as a director of the surprisingly good Piranha II: Flying Killers followed shortly after.
But it was 1984 that was the making of Cameron when he wrote and directed The Terminator, a futuristic action- thriller starring "Arnult”. It was a huge success. After this, came a string of successful science-fiction action films such as Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Aliens actually managed the not-so-easy task of making a sequel that topped the success of its predecessor - a movie directed by the man at the top of this list (not that there is actually a "top" to this list). Cameron is now one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood.
Finest Action Moment:
The Terminator - "I'll be back" is the best line at a police station ever. No contest.
Piranha II: Flying Killers (1981)
Little Known Fact:
When he wrote an early script treatment for Spider Man, he had the idea of organic web-shooters. This was later included in Sam Raimi's film.
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