The 69-year-old director was shooting underwater and the oxygen tank was running out but he had no way of contacting the photographer above the surface.
JAMES Cameron nearly died on the set of ‘The Abyss’.
The 69-year-old director was at the helm of the 1989 science fiction film about a deep sea research team trying to recover a lost Navy submarine but found himself in a life-or-death situation when he was shooting underwater and the oxygen tank was running out but he had no way of contacting the photographer above the surface.
He told Variety: “We had the ‘angels,’ which were the safety divers that were right there, and each one was assigned to one or two of the actors and just kept them in sight the whole time. But they weren’t watching me.
“Everybody’s setting lights and nobody’s watching. I’m trying to get [underwater director of photography] Al Giddings’ attention on the (public address). But Al had been involved in a diving accident, and he blew out both eardrums. So, he was deaf as a post.
“And I’m wasting my last breath of air on an underwater PA system going, ‘Al … Al …,’ and he’s working away with his back to me. At that point, it was almost checkout point and the safety divers are taught to hold you down so you don’t embolise and let your lungs over expand going up.
The ‘Titanic’ director went on to insist that he “knew” what he had to do and he had “no way” to alert his colleague so hit him in the face, swam to the surface and survived but admitted that the scene in question was a trailblazer in terms of cinematic possibilities.
“But I knew what I was doing. And he wouldn’t let me go, and I had no way to tell him the regulator wasn’t working.
“So, I punched him in the face and swam to the surface and therefore survived. That scene made an impact and showed people what was possible, and I think it kicked in the door to the start of the CG explosion.”
– BANG SHOWBIZ