James Cameron has achieved legendary status in hollywood. He is willing to test the limits of special effects by incorporating them into more traditional filmmaking techniques. The director’s fourth film, the abyss, came out 33 years ago. Although the abyss is not as well known as his other works such as Titanic, aliens, or the first two terminator films, its innovative use of CGI guarantees it a permanent place in cinema history. But that’s not even the best thing about this surprisingly good underwater thriller.
‘The Abyss’ comes from a story James Cameron wrote in high school
In the abyss, Ed Harris plays Bud, the leader of the Deep Core crew, an experimental underwater oil rig. When a submarine goes missing, the Navy SEALs ask Bud, his co-worker and ex-wife Lindsey, and his team to investigate. Tensions run high in the Deep Core when Lt. Coffey, played by Michael Biehn, recovers nuclear weapons from the submarine wreck and strange aliens show up.
“I had written a little story in high school called the abyss”, Cameron told GQ in 2022.
According to IMDbCameron had the idea of the abyss from a high school science lecture on scuba diving and liquid breathing. She envisioned a group of researchers working in a facility on the ocean floor near the edge of the Cayman Trench and wrote a short story about it.
The scientists in Cameron’s tale all jump into the trench at once when they detect signs of life, never to be seen or heard from again. And when the only surviving scientist hunts them down to find out what happened, his descent into the depths drives him crazy.
When Cameron arrived in Hollywood, he found that a group of scientists was not very marketable, so he switched to a team of blue-collar workers and modified the plot accordingly.
Filming ‘The Abyss’ was so stressful that cast members would break down and cry
The cast of Abyss put in 70 hour weeks, often working through the night, to avoid delaying the film’s release while they repaired the hole in the black tarp covering their tank for the film’s underwater scenes. syfy wire reports that Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio had a physical and emotional breakdown due to the stress she experienced on set. Meanwhile, Ed Harris had to stop his car because he started crying as he was driving home.
Harris has openly refused to discuss her experiences working on the film, stating, “I’m not talking about the abyss, and I will never do it. Harris only talks about his time on the set of the abyss in the documentary Under Pressure: Doing The Abyss. Likewise, Mastrantonio stated: “the abyss they were many things. The fun of doing was not one of them.
Fortunately, Cameron is said to have become nicer on film sets.
James Cameron almost lost his life during the filming of ‘The Abyss’
And as if the disgruntled cast weren’t enough, James Cameron almost drowned when filming the abyss. Apparently, the assistant director who was monitoring his oxygen levels on the underwater set unexpectedly went off the clock.
According to the post, Cameron had to quickly remove his gear and get to safety. He was totally unprotected from the water because he had removed his helmet. A standby diver tried to help by giving Cameron the backup breathing regulator. But he was broken, and he sucked a lot of water.
Even as the filmmaker struggled to free himself, the security diver mistook his frantic movements for signs of panic and held on until Cameron punched him in the face. Fortunately, the Avatar director he was lucky to emerge unscathed from the near-tragic incident.
Although Cameron’s near-death experience should have made him avoid the depths, it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for actual ocean exploration. According to National Geographicthe risk-taking director plunged to record depths into the Mariana Trench in 2012.