James Cameron's Primary Reason For Making Titanic Was Diving To The Actual Shipwreck

(To celebrate "Titanic" and its impending 25th-anniversary re-release, we've put together a week of explorations, inquires, and deep dives into James Cameron's box office-smashing disaster epic.)

James Cameron is always one to innovate. When "Avatar" first came out in 2009, it was unlike anything being made at the time largely because Cameron utilized motion capture technology designed specifically for the film. Because of this, he helped advance this popular movie-making technique, ultimately moving the art form forward just by making a single film. 

This is an extremely impressive — and no doubt expensive — thing to achieve, but Cameron is not the kind of person to approach a topic without giving it his all and then some. He's also the kind of director who has pretty much been cranking out successful films from the very beginning. He's the man behind modern classics like "The Terminator" and "Aliens," and before "Avatar," he gave us another mega-hit that wowed audiences everywhere upon its release: "Titanic." 

While "Titanic" is not as visually advanced as "Avatar," it still boasts some pretty impressive shots, and though some people might consider the decision to center the movie around a love story aboard the ill-fated ship to be cheesy, Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) helped anchor the tragedy of the boat's sinking to something that feels personal. 

But while the plot of the film and its roots in the actual historical event are interesting, the real reason Cameron wanted to make the film is so very Cameron-esque, proving that he really will do anything in order to get his desired results. The prolific director chose to make "Titanic" because he saw it as the only way he would be able to physically dive down to see the remains of the ship for himself.

Call me James Cameron

Casual fans of James Cameron's work might not know that the director is also an avid lover of deep-sea exploration. In fact, along with making films, Cameron is also a sea explorer for National Geographic. His fascination with the ocean goes all the way back to his childhood when he would look up to other explorers like Jacques Cousteau and Joe MacInnis, hoping to someday achieve similar feats himself.

In 2012, Cameron did, in fact, embark on his own impressive deep-sea adventure, diving all the way down to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench which is also believed to be the deepest part of the ocean. What made his trip so monumental was the fact that he was the first person to accomplish this trip alone. But while this was his first solo trip into the Challenger Deep, it was not his first time exploring the deep wonders of the ocean.

The director has also showcased his love of deep-sea adventures through a handful of documentaries focusing on various elements of the ocean and its mysteries. But one specific mystery — the sunken Titanic — was something Cameron had to go to great lengths to get to explore.

More than just a means to an end

In an interview for Playboy, James Cameron stated, "I made 'Titanic' because I wanted to dive to the shipwreck, not because I particularly wanted to make the movie." After realizing that diving to see the sunken Titanic was an actual possibility, Cameron began thinking up how he might be able to fund a trip down to the ocean floor to see the ghost ship for himself. "When I learned some other guys had dived to the Titanic to make an IMAX movie, I said, 'I'll make a Hollywood movie to pay for an expedition and do the same thing,'" he told Playboy.

While this may seem like an extremely convoluted and long means to an end, the process ended up working out extremely well for Cameron who considers the Titanic to be "the Mount Everest of shipwrecks." The funding for the film did indeed allow him the chance to see the wreckage for himself, but it also afforded him some other impressive accolades in Hollywood. For the longest time, "Titanic" was the highest-grossing movie of all time, and the film was also nominated for a whopping 14 Academy Awards. It went on to win the majority of those awards (11 of them, to be exact), one of which ended up being Best Picture

So to say that Cameron only made the film because he needed someone to fund a very expensive adventure is a bit of an understatement considering that Cameron really did give the film his all. Whether or not you believe him to be the king of the world, there's no doubt that he's the king of making the most out of his current situation.