The book was Stephen Galloway’s “Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker,” the 2018 biography of the Paramount executive that was present for “Titanic.” The book articulates many of the film’s issues. Cameron, for one, was seen as something of a dictator, often losing his temper and berating people on set. Cameron built an enormous scale model of the actual Titanic in an outdoor ocean soundstage in Mexico, and construction took far longer than anticipated. Russell Carpenter was the film’s cinematographer, but he was only hired after Cameron fired his first DP. Several cast members caught the flu, causing delays. According to Fox executive Bill Mechanic, the film was losing three out of every five shooting days to one malady after another. This caused Mechanic to travel to Mexico and talk to Cameron as soon as he could … about making massive cuts to the film’s script.
Mechanic recalls the meeting, held in the wee hours, right when he arrived. He said:
“Jim exploded. […] It was 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, and if he’d had a gun in his trailer he would have shot me. The gist of it was, ‘If you’re so f***ing smart, you direct the picture.’ And he walked off. He stormed out of his trailer, pulled his chauffeur out of the car, and sped off. He was screaming. I said, ‘Shut down the shoot until he calls me,’ and got in my car and drove back to L.A.”