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James Cameron used sex and sci-fi to get noticed in Hollywood

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James Cameron
James Cameron

Hollywood may be glamorous, but getting a start there often isn't. Even James Cameron, director of blockbusters including The Terminator and Avatar, started out on the bottom floor. In a new book, Cameron says that he was able to get his big break by standing out from the pack while modeling a spaceship for B-movie legend Roger Corman: "I thought, okay, it's Roger Corman. He does girls-in-bamboo-cages movies. What is he selling? He sells tits! So I designed a kind of Amazon warrior spaceship — basically a spaceship with tits." The design impressed Corman, and he was soon put in charge of more than just modeling.

Cameron elaborates upon how his interaction with Corman set him up to direct his first feature film, Piranha II: The Spawning, in an extensive excerpt of the book Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman, King of the B Movie, published in Grantland. Corman eventually allowed him to direct several movie scenes when a shoot fell far behind, allowing Cameron to impress two producers through a practical effect that he set up to make worms writhe around on cue. Cameron says, "What I hear back later is they go off and talk and say, 'If he's that good with worms, I wonder what he can do with actors!'"