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James Cameron revisits the moment he calls ‘cringeworthy’ in his 1998 Oscars speech

<i>Gary Hershorn/Reuters</i><br/>James Cameron holds up the Oscar he won for best director for the movie
Gary Hershorn
Gary Hershorn/Reuters
James Cameron holds up the Oscar he won for best director for the movie "Titanic" March 23

By Marianne Garvey, CNN

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is setting box office records and generating Oscar buzz, which recently got director James Cameron reflecting on a moment he had celebrating one of his other big films.

Cameron revealed in a conversation with CNN’s Chris Wallace for a new episode of “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” that he regrets quoting a line from “Titanic” during his acceptance speech for best director at the 1998 Academy Awards.

“Mom, dad, there is no way that I can express to you what I’m feeling right now,” Cameron said during the ceremony. “My heart is full to bursting, except to say, ‘I’m the king of the world!'”

Of the moment, Wallace asked Cameron: “How bad was the backlash in Hollywood? The feeling that Jim Cameron was riding a little too high at that point?”

Cameron clarified that what was perceived by some to be “arrogance” was not how he was feeling on stage.

“I was trying to express the joy and excitement that I was feeling in terms of that movie — and the most joyful moment for Leonardo DiCaprio’s ‘Titanic’ character was when he was free and at the bow of the ship,” Cameron recalled.

“Titanic” won 11 Oscars that night, including best picture, but Cameron said he also took home a valuable lesson.

“What I learned is you don’t quote your own movie to the Academy if you win, because it’s cringeworthy,” he told Wallace. “It makes the assumption that you didn’t win by a narrow margin, but that every single person sitting in the audience on that night at the Kodak Theatre saw and loved ‘Titanic.’ And we’ll never know how much we won by, but it might not have been a landslide at all.”

“I took flack for all 25 years after that,” Cameron continued. “You do have to be careful what you say in your acceptance speech, me and Sally Field, we have a little self-help group together on this.”

In 1985, Field won her second Academy Award for her performance in “Places in the Heart.” She later became a punchline for saying, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!”

New episodes of “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” premiere Friday on HBO Max and Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on CNN.

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