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June 4, 1998

James Cameron to direct ‘Romeo and Juliet’
Film will showcase high-tech imagery, historical detail

HOLLYWOOD — Director James Cameron, maker of such blockbusters as The Terminator, True Lies, and Titanic, has begun work on his latest film project, a remake of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

“William Shakespeare was the James Cameron of his day, so it makes sense that I would eventually redo one of his classic tales,” said Cameron when interviewed on a break from shooting. “I plan to devote my attention to every detail of this production to make sure that the title 'Romeo and Juliet' deserves to go below ‘A James Cameron Film.’”

The attention to detail has indeed been astonishing. Cameron has insisted that not only the costumes be historically accurate but that they actually be from the 16th century.

“We had to dig up quite a lot of graves to find enough costumes,” said costume designer David O’Puddy. “But you’ll see the quality up on the screen. This is why Cameron’s a genius.”

Cameron is also planning on pushing the boundaries of digital imaging technology. The character of Juliet will be completely digitally created, and digital enhancement will be used to allow Cameron to play the role of Romeo himself.

“I got the idea to give this try when I was filming Titanic,” Cameron explained. “Leo was giving me a hard time because he thought the line ‘I’m king of the world’ was cheesy. And as we were arguing, I thought to myself, I wish I could do this scene. I know how brilliant this line is. I should be the one shouting ‘I’m king of the world’ from the bow of the ship.”

“And then I realized that there’s no technical reason why I couldn’t play a 20 year old. We have the technology, so why not? If I can make a realistic looking Titanic, then I can make me look like Leo DiCaprio!”

Since Juliet will be placed into the movie after filming has been completed, Cameron had to act to thin air for most of production.

“It was difficult not having an actual Juliet on set,” said Cameron. “For example, during the big love scene in the second act, I was essentially making love to myself. That was actually much easier than I expected it to be.”

Cameron also promises to raise the stakes on nudity for this movie. When asked if he will go the ‘Full Monty,’ he laughed. “I can’t officially comment on that, but I will say that Juliet will not be the only digital creation in that scene,” Cameron said with a wink. “We will blow the last scene in Boogie Nights out of the water.”

Despite his insistence that everything in the production be historically accurate, Cameron admits that he has rewritten most of the dialogue.

“I find it hard to believe that people really talked that way,” he said. “I mean, the story is good, but some of the dialogue was really clunky. My revisions stay true to the ‘feel’ of the story. I just cleaned it up, that’s all. For example, when Romeo sees Juliet up on the balcony, I really wanted to see him pump his fist in the air and whisper, ‘All right!’ Just that one little addition really improves that scene, and I think the audience will agree.”

James Cameron’s Romeo and Juliet will be completed by the summer of 2003, and will cost an estimated $325 million.

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