The 70th Academy Awards ceremony was held on March 23, 1998, in Los Angeles, and according to the Nielsen Ratings, was viewed on television by more than 57 million people. It was the night that James Cameron’s supra-hit “Titanic” was to win 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Editing. The film’s director, James Cameron, was to exit the room with three statuettes of his own, as he co-produced and co-edited in addition to directing. 1997 was a strong year for movies in general, but “Titanic” emerged as the strongest.
Also in the audience was notorious Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein, not yet ousted for his many sexual crimes. As head of Miramax, Weinstein was credited as executive producer on the studio’s many films, so he was at the Oscars to witness the competition of “Jackie Brown,” “Good Will Hunting,” and “The Wings of the Dove.” Despite his notoriously bad behavior, Weinstein was a major power player in the 1990s, bringing many notable international voices and independent filmmakers into the Hollywood spotlight. Weinstein is currently serving a 39-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault.
In 1997, Weinstein produced the first English-language film by celebrated Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. The film was “Mimic,” starring Mira Sorvino and Charles S. Dutton, and was about a species of fast-evolving cockroaches living in New York’s subways that had grown to human size and were attacking locals. There were some production troubles on “Mimic,” which, according to a recent oral history in the Hollywood Reporter, James Cameron caught wind of. Cameron has a deep friendship with del Toro, and hated that this Weinstein fellow, with whom he wasn’t familiar, was causing so much trouble. When Weinstein tried to introduce himself at the 1998 Oscars, Cameron nearly clocked him with a statuette.
The Drama Of Mimic
“Mimic” was produced by Bob Weinstein, with Harvey serving as executive producer. It was del Toro’s second feature film after his 1993 debut “Cronos.” The Weinsteins reportedly hated the movie, thinking it wasn’t scary enough, and there were active attempts to get del Toro fired from the set. It took Sorvino’s influence to retain del Toro. Although the director was brought back and finished his film, Miramax still recut the film. Years later, del Toro would admit what a horrible experience it was.
In the Hollywood Reporter, Cameron recalled the drama immediately upon seeing Weinstein’s face. Cameron had never met or worked with Weinstein, nor did he even really know what the man looked like. The only thing Cameron knew was that Weinstein had made life miserable for his friend del Toro. In his words:
“I didn’t know Harvey from Adam. I didn’t know anything about him other than what I had learned from Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo and I had been close friends since 1991. He had told me the horrible s*** that Miramax pulled on him when he made his first American commercial film, ‘Mimic,’ and they fired him. The actors, led by Mira Sorvino, kind of revolted and wouldn’t work until they brought him back. Then, when the film was successful and well regarded, Harvey sort of jumped up to take praise for the movie.”
Cameron, brandishing well-deserved confidence, didn’t take kindly to what Weinstein said next. Cameron had just made one of 1997’s biggest hits, and it was still on top at the box office by the time the Oscars aired in March of 1998. Weinstein seemingly thought Cameron could do better.
An Ugly Little Moment
When Weinstein tried to ingratiate himself with Cameron, he happily gave Weinstein the cold shoulder. Cameron recalled the producer’s toxic response:
“I’m on my way back to my seat with my editing Oscar, and this guy’s jumping up to introduce himself, saying, ‘If you want to come to work at a place that’s a friend of the artist, a friend of the filmmaker’ — he’s holding his hand out, and I just blew him off. It was just an ugly little moment. But, yeah, I did defend Guillermo and I called Harvey on his bulls***, and then he got very loud and verbally abusive and almost potentially physically violent. And he was about to get clocked by an Oscar — which would’ve been highly appropriate, I think.”
As far as cursory internet searches have been able to determine, no one has been seriously injured by an Oscar statuette, but it seemed like it nearly happened in 1998. Cameron only appreciated the poetry the injury would have provided after the fact, however. In the moment, he recalled only having something heavy in his hand and feeling rage. He also recalled a strange schoolyard vibe running through the scene, saying:
“I wasn’t thinking about it in those terms; it was just the weapon at hand. The hysterical thing about the whole moment was people around us were saying, ‘Not here! Not here!’ It was kind of like, ‘It’s okay if you boys fight out in the alley, but don’t do it here at the Academy Awards!'”
A film of Cameron beating up Weinstein in an alleyway would have made more money than “Titanic.” Del Toro could have directed. He’s quite an expert at directing monsters.
Read this next: The 10 Best Guillermo Del Toro Characters Ranked
The post James Cameron Almost Fought Harvey Weinstein in Honor of Guillermo del Toro at the 1998 Oscars appeared first on /Film.
/Film – James Cameron Almost Fought Harvey Weinstein In Honor Of Guillermo Del Toro At The 1998 Oscars
Author: Witney Seibold
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March 11, 2023