The world knows James Cameron as one of the most successful film directors but the truth is that he is a technologist and an explorer at heart. Every movie he makes is filled with technologies he kluges together and exploring the ocean is his passion. And the thing that is most striking about him is that despite all his success and the glamour that surrounds him, he revels in getting his hands dirty with scientific exploration. A one time truck driver turned film maker is truly passionate about pushing himself beyond reason to explore depths of the universe … literally. So, what makes Jim? Who is he really?
My first real opinion of Jim was formed when I watched him declare himself the “king of the universe” when he received the Oscar for “Titanic”. And all I could do was roll my eyes. I was working with a lot of powers to be in Los Angeles at that time and it was fascinating to observe the unparallel talent that pulls you toward a person and the spoilt brat behaviour that makes you walk away. A couple of years ago, I got to know Jim and his wife Suzy along with their business partner Maria and I discovered a total new side of Jim, who was unpretentious, charming and very easy going. When I interviewed him at the INK conference 2010, I asked him as to what changed him from being that seemingly arrogant man at the Oscars to an almost bearable person today. Though framed in humor, my question was truly sincere in that I wanted to get to the bottom of this transformation. And the answer that Jim gave was rather surprising - He said that it is working with the scientific community that brought about the change in him. He said that Hollywood rewards bad behaviour but when you are creating a submersible that has to can go to the depths of the ocean, you have to work together as equals and learn to respect every opinion that is put forth. He gave the credit to the scientific community for keeping him grounded. This is what Jim said. And then when you look at what he does, he rarely does anything significant (including the trip to India) without his wife, Suzy. After knowing her, I can say that it is her simplicity and grace that keeps him grounded as well.
As I write this blog, Suzy and Jim along with his scientific team are on their way to Mariana Trench, preparing for Jim to do something historic - make a solo dive to the deepest part of Earth’s oceans - Challenger Deep. According to Suzy’s email to me “We are on a Mermaid Sapphire ship and steaming from the small atoll of Ulithi to Challenger Deep. It is a 16 hour journey……From the time they close the hatch until the time when Jim climbs out of the hatch will be around 10 hours”.
I can only imagine what it feels to go to the darkest place on earth solo and come back to tell about it. It’s 10 hours of eternity, of being surrounded by one the most magical, dark, powerful body of water that occupies most of this earth. National Geographic mentioned that Jim already set a new record for deepest solo submersible dive earlier this year.
When Jim completes the dive, the world will celebrate his accomplishment and I plan to raise a toast to do the same and also celebrate the seven year journey, of his personal commitment to use his wealth and his reputation for dedicating it to science and most importantly, a toast to Suzy because she is his rock and she does it with so much grace. Please follow our tweets at @INKtalks, @DeepChallenge and @suzymusing.