James Cameron’s Strained Relationship With His Father Fueled His Perfection

Philip Cameron felt James was making a mistake going into film, and urged his son to finish his college classes to get his degree.

Parents Philip and Shirley Cameron embrace James as he's honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Philip Cameron was an engineer, and he saw in his son James the same potential — a brilliant mind ready to change the world.


James — even from an early age, with his science-fiction novels — felt called to more creative endeavors.


James recalls occasions where his father ripped a book from his hands out of frustration — a memory that stuck with the now-iconic filmmaker for decades.


There was no doubt Philip loved his son a great deal, recalls friend Randy Frakes. He was just a blue-collar family man uncomfortable with his son's high-risk-impossible-reward gamble on a career in art.


It was something that kept Philip from embracing James' successes for decades, according to Frakes. Philip was reluctant to acknowledge James' breakthroughs even after the worldwide success of Aliens.


"I think he's got enough praise already," Philip reportedly told Randy.


But to James, his father's approval meant a lot. It helped to fuel an unyielding drive to pioneer and perfect — and achieve firsts in filmmaking many thought impossible.


Their relationship is a part of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON — the award-winning "biopic podcast" series, starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, from filmmaker and journalist Matt Schrader.



BLOCKBUSTER is free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Podcast Miniseries.


It wasn't until years later that James and his father would in some ways reconcile, as James became a father himself.


Over the years, Philip had supported James' other interests — science — and had driven him from their little town in Canada across the border into Buffalo, New York, to take SCUBA lessons. It was on these car trips that James and his father established a special connection. The experience would have a lifelong impact on James, whose love for ocean exploration only seemed to grow. Those trips are featured at the beginning of Episode 7 of BLOCKBUSTER.


You can hear more about the rise of James Cameron in BLOCKBUSTER, free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other platforms.


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