Stanley Kubrick once grilled James Cameron about True Lies

Stanley Kubrick once sat James Cameron down to find out exactly how he pulled off 1994’s True Lies a few years before making his final film.

Last Updated on April 30, 2024

Stanley Kubrick was a peculiar man and so it’s really no wonder that his list of favorite films is so diverse. There are works by Welles and Chaplin and Bergman, but he also dug White Men Can’t Jump and The Jerk. Kubrick, too, apparently took to True Lies – so much so that he sat director James Cameron down and asked just how he pulled it off.

Back in the ‘90s, James Cameron decided to give himself a special 40th birthday present: the chance to meet Stanley Kubrick. And so after he gave him a call, he finally did so, encountering the legendary director between Full Metal Jacket and what would be his final film a few years later, Eyes Wide Shut. But Cameron was in for a surprise, as Kubrick was less interested in expounding on the depths of 2001: A Space Odyssey or playing chess but rather discussing Cameron’s most recent movie. As Cameron recalled, “So I went to see this reclusive guy knocking around this big house and he just totally wanted to know how True Lies was made. He had a print of it on his KEM down in his basement, and made me sit there and tell him how I had done all the effects shots. So I spent the whole time talking about my movie with Stanley Kubrick, which was not where I thought the day was going to go.” But Cameron found a lesson in his sitdown with Kubrick, adding, “But I want to be like Stanley, I want to be that guy. When I’m 80, I want to still be the guy trying to figure it all out.”

Kubrick may have been such a huge fan of James Cameron’s True Lies that one moment in Eyes Wide Shut is nearly identical to the 1994 action flick, with one character intimately asking another, “Do you like the period?” to which their partner responds, “I adore it.”

If he was blown away by True Lies (Cameron’s best, in my opinion), one can only wonder what Stanley Kubrick would have thought of the Avatar movies and what they did for sci-fi cinema and special effects.

Stanley Kubrick was always an immensely – and intensely – curious guy, not above calling younger filmmakers to learn their secrets. Another example found him giving Ridley Scott a ring to find out how he pulled off the famous chestburster scene in Alien, a moment that gave Kubrick one of his biggest scares at the movies.

It must be humbling and bizarre to have one of cinema’s masters grilling you for behind-the-scenes revelations. But that Kubrick stayed curious enough despite having helmed some of the finest examples of film’s key genres is pretty incredible and surely a moment that James Cameron could never forget.

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