This Is How James Cameron Got The Idea For ‘The Terminator’

10:00 am 25 Aug, 2017


You may love sci-fi films. You may hate sci-fi films. But no matter which group you fall under, you can never remain unaware of the name James Cameron. One of the most celebrated makers of science fiction films in Hollywood, James Cameron is an institution in himself and has delivered innumerable hits like ‘The Terminator’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Aliens’, and ‘Titanic’ to name a few.

James Cameron was a dropout of the Fullerton College Heroic Hollywood


But how did the deep sea explorer and engineer go on to become such a superstar director with his very first film which went on to be regarded as a cult classic?


Well, the story goes as such:

This drop-out of Fullerton College had been extremely intrigued with special effects. He would switch between extremely odd jobs, which included working as a truck driver, to educate himself as much as he could on the subject. Then came the famous film ‘Star Wars’ in 1977, which prompted him to enter the film industry.

The film ‘Star Wars’ (1977) inspired Cameron to become a filmmaker Ars Technica


The next few years saw Cameron donning the role of writer and art director for few films till he was hired as the special effects director for the film, ‘Piranha II: The Spawning’ in 1981.

Then something bizarre happened that led to the making of his first, and perhaps one of the biggest hits of all times, ‘The Terminator’.

A still from the film ‘Piranha II: The Spawning’ Alchetron


While working as the director of special effects for the sequel of ‘Piranha’, James Cameron was unable to have that perfect opening shot of the heroine for the film, Carole Davis, like his director wanted him to. His successive inability to perform the task properly saw him getting fired from the film. Although he was later asked to assist in the shooting, the plan became haywire when Cameron got severe food poisoning.

But who knew this illness would transform into a boon later on?

Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘The Terminator’ Amazon


It was during this illness that Cameron had a terrible nightmare revolving around an invincible robot villain who was sent from the future to kill him. Although he confessed to being quite terrified in the beginning, the nightmare nevertheless furnished him with the idea of his first film, ‘The Terminator’ – a movie that established him as one of the foremost directors of sci-fi films of all times.

Well, we have in the past seen dreams changing the lives of people for good, but nightmares? Hats off to you, Mr. Cameron, for utilizing a terrifying nightmare to perfection!