“Avatar: The Way of Water” is breaking box office records and generating Oscar buzz, prompting director James Cameron to reminisce about a time when he was celebrating one of his other big films.
Cameron revealed in a new episode of “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” with CNN’s Chris Wallace that he regrets quoting a line from “Titanic” during his acceptance speech for best director at the 1998 Academy Awards.
“There is no way I can express to you what I’m feeling right now, Mom and Dad,” Cameron said during the ceremony. “My heart is bursting at the seams, except to say, ‘I’m the king of the world!'”
“How bad was the backlash in Hollywood?” Wallace inquired of Cameron. Jim Cameron was riding a little too high at the time, didn’t you think?”
Cameron clarified that what some perceived as “arrogance” was not how he felt on stage.
“I was trying to express the joy and excitement that I was feeling in terms of that film – and the most joyful moment for Leonardo DiCaprio’s ‘Titanic’ character was when he was free and at the bow of the ship,” Cameron explained.
“Titanic” won 11 Oscars that night, including best picture, but Cameron says he also learned something important.
“What I learned is that if you win, you don’t quote your own movie to the Academy because it’s cringeworthy,” he told Wallace. “It assumes that you didn’t win by a slim margin, but that every single person in the audience at the Kodak Theatre that night saw and loved ‘Titanic.'” We’ll never know how much we won by, but it could have been a landslide.”
“I took flak for the next 25 years,” Cameron continued. “You do have to be careful what you say in your acceptance speech, and Sally Field and I have a little self-help group on this.”
Field won her second Academy Award for her performance in “Places in the Heart” in 1985. “I can’t deny the fact that you like me,” she later became a punchline. You like me right now!”