In a 1997 interview with Charlie Rose, Cameron revealed the Titanic bug bit him while researching remotely operated submersibles for “The Abyss” (i.e. Big Geek and Little Geek). He was meeting with famed oceanographer Robert Ballard, who discovered the rusting remains of the Titanic off the coast of Newfoundland in 1985.
According to Cameron, “[Ballard] still had not gotten over Titanic, and he wanted to show me his tapes of how they discovered it, and so on. So this little infection started right there. I had the germ, and I didn’t know it. It was incubating.”
Cameron’s interests are many, and his curiosity is insatiable. That germ took root, and it grew like kudzu. As he told Rose:
“[I]’ve always loved history, especially the antiquities: ancient Rome and Greece […] but all history, really. And so I started reading up on the history of Titanic, not just the physicality of the wreck and the high technology of finding it, but … you know, who were these people? And what did they experience? And it became to me such a fascinating story, as it has for many people who get sucked into the vortex of Titanic.”
There was one last bit of inspiration lurking in the deep for Cameron, and it sparked his interest in the IMAX format.