In the gap between James Cameron’s last theatrical feature, Titanic, and his new film, Avatar (in theatres this weekend) Clint Eastwood directed 11 movies, Michael Bay made six and even Uwe Boll, a director so reviled an on–line petition demands he stop making films, has made 15 in the time it took Cameron to make just one.
So what’s the hold up?
Some suggest Cameron takes so long between gigs because his commitment to his projects is so intense he wants to be sure he is on the right track before camera starts to roll.
“I want you to know one thing,” he allegedly told one producer, “once we embark on this adventure and I start to make this movie, the only way you’ll be able to stop me is to kill me.”
Also, Cameron isn’t bound by the same considerations as most directors.
He wrote the script for Avatar in 1994 and was prepared to wait until special effects technology caught up with his vision.
The luxury of having time is what happens when you make the highest grossing movie in history, a fact he celebrates, wearing a t-shirt that reads “Time Means Nothing in the Face of Creativity.”
Like Cameron, Stanley Kubrick spent more time off movie sets than on. In a career that spanned 46 years he made only 13 movies but spent years developing pictures that never went into production — like Napoleon, an epic look at the life of the French Emperor that he expected to be “the best movie ever made.”
Others choose long lay-offs between projects for different reasons. Actor Casey Affleck (Ben’s younger brother) had three movies released in 2007 but nothing else scheduled until 2010. Why the break?
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t really enjoy playing anybody,” he says, “except Casey Affleck lying on the couch watching the Red Sox … usually, when I’m working, I’m not really having a good time.”
Then there’s Daniel Day-Lewis, an actor whose lapses between projects makes Affleck look like a workaholic. The There Will Be Blood star routinely takes years off between films, once disappearing from the big screen for five years.
When asked why he doesn’t work more often he said, “I like to cook things very slowly. I learnt early on that I couldn’t jump from one kind of work to another. I did it a couple of times and it didn’t work.”