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That Time James Cameron Almost Hit Harvey Weinstein With His Oscar for ‘Titanic’

Cameron did not appreciate Weinstein’s treatment of another director at Miramax

Long before the wave of sexual harassment accusations against Harvey Weinstein hit headlines, he was known for being a confrontational figure in Hollywood, so much so that James Cameron says one of his defining memories from the night “Titanic” won 11 Academy Awards was how he nearly came to blows with the disgraced producer.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Cameron was asked about what he remembered most about that night back in 1998. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the record his film tied or his infamous quoting of the “King of the World” scene during his acceptance speech for winning Best Director — it was how he almost hit Weinstein over the head with his Oscar about how Weinstein’s studio, Miramax, treated fellow director Guillermo Del Toro.

“It’s kind of a long story, but it has to do with Guillermo del Toro and how badly he was dealt with by Miramax on ‘Mimic,'” Cameron explained. “Harvey came up glad-handing me, talking about how great they were for the artist, and I just read him chapter and verse about how great I thought he was for the artist based on my friend’s experience, and that led to an altercation.”

While speaking at the BFI London Film Festival last month, Del Toro spoke about his frustration working with the producer and his brother, Bob, on “Mimic.” Del Toro said that the Weinsteins clashed with him on every step of production, from the film’s plot and casting to what content he could put in the film. After they told Del Toro they wouldn’t allow any scenes showing children or animals being killed, the director filmed a scene in which two children and a dog die just to spite them.

“My first American experience was almost my last because it was with the Weinsteins and Miramax,” Del Toro said. “I have got to tell you, two horrible things happened in the late nineties, my father was kidnapped and I worked with the Weinsteins. I know which one was worse… the kidnapping made more sense, I knew what they wanted.”

Cameron, apparently, agreed with Del Toro, as he was about to fight Weinstein in the seats of the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles just as the show was coming back from commercial. Cameron joked that there were probably many people in the industry who wished he threw a punch.

“It was happening on the main floor at the [theater] . . . And the music had started to play to get back in our seats,” he told Vanity Fair. “The people around us were saying, ‘Not here! Not here!’ Like it was O.K. to fight in the parking lot, you know, but it was not O.K. there when the music was playing, and they were about to go live.”

Nearly 20 years later, Weinstein is being investigated by police in Los Angeles, New York, and London, while Cameron has begun production on his long-brewing “Avatar” sequels and Del Toro’s latest film, “The Shape of Water,” won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. “The Shape of Water” will be released in New York this Friday and will hit theaters everywhere Dec. 8.