James Cameron’s’ reputation is that of a fearsome taskmaster, one who isn’t afraid to lay down the law to his cast and crew in no uncertain terms if they aren’t doing their jobs to his satisfaction. The filmmaker’s meticulous nature and desire for perfection means that he’s gained something of a reputation for having a short fuse over the decades, so it’s a huge surprise to discover that he was high on Ecstasy when trying to crack the story for Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
This Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the classic sci-fi’s theatrical release, so Cameron has been hitting the promotional circuit to revisit what might be his most purely entertaining movie, and it’s certainly a shock to hear that he was taking illegal drugs to self-induce a creative fever dream when putting the narrative pieces together.
Then again, MDMA wasn’t officially outlawed in the United States until the summer of 1985, so for all we know Cameron may have been partying hard right after the release of The Terminator the previous year and toying with ideas for a follow up, but he nonetheless revealed in a new interview that it gave him a serious burst of inspiration.
“I remember sitting there once, high on E, writing notes for Terminator, and I was struck by Sting’s song, that ‘I hope the Russians love their children too’. And I thought, ‘You know what? The idea of a nuclear war is just so antithetical to life itself’. That’s where the kid came from.”
John Connor’s entire existence and arc in one of the greatest big budget actioners to ever come out of Hollywood was initially born from Cameron getting high on Ecstasy, which is something not a lot of people would have been able to guess. Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a masterclass in how to stage and shoot action, reinventing the way the industry approached blockbuster cinema in the process, but it turns out some chemical inspiration was needed to jump start the director’s creative juices.