Guillermo Del Toro Wants To Clarify A Misconception About James Cameron's Role In His Father's Kidnapping

There are so many wild true stories about filmmaker James Cameron that it’s hardly worth embellishing a false one. For instance, Cameron really did pitch his sequel to Sir Ridley Scott’s Alien by writing “Alien$” and showing it to producers. (It worked! He got the gig.) Also, has completed dives to the deepest parts of the ocean, and toured the wreckage of the Titanic while filming his epic story of that failed oceanliner. But one story associated with Cameron has a falsehood associated with it, and Pinocchio director Guillermo Del Toro would like to set the record straight. 

Guillermo Del Toro has been friends with James Cameron since the early 1990s. They met at a barbecue in Los Angeles, where Del Toro was finishing his debut feature Cronos, and Cameron had just wrapped a little film known as T2. Their friendship only grew stronger over time, with the filmmakers each spending time on each other’s sets, visiting their editing bays, and essentially supporting each other at every turn. As legend has it, Cameron was the one who gave Del Toro $1 million after the Pacific Rim director’s father, Federico, was kidnapped in 1997. But while appearing on the ReelBlend podcast, Del Toro wanted to clarify one misconception. He told the show:

When my father was kidnapped ... there's information that is not correct, that he paid the ransom. He didn't. We did. But he paid for the negotiator. He paid for the negotiator, and we paid (Cameron) back a little while after. Because it was a really, really harrowing situation. And he came in and he took charge. He said, 'The hostage negotiator will be in your house in 72 hours to help you go through the process.' He did it on his own. And we didn't ask, he volunteered. And he did offer, he said, 'I'll pay for the ransom.' He did offer. He is that kind of guy. He is incredibly loyal. Incredibly strong.

We all need a friend like James Cameron in our corner. It certainly helps that “King of the World” Cameron had Titanic money as of 1997, with that Oscar winner being one of the 10 highest grossing movies of all time. But for Cameron to selflessly give money to his close friend Guillermo Del Toro to pay for a negotiator in order to rapidly facilitate Federico’s safe return is remarkable. And it worked! Del Toro’s father was released after 72 days in captivity, though the culprits were never caught, and the money was never returned. 

Hear our full conversation with Guillermo Del Toro on this week’s ReelBlend:

Both men have gone on to great success in the film industry, and continue to collaborate with each other to this day. Cameron, of course, conquered the world once again with Avatar, and is ramping up a return to Pandora with the December 16 release of Avatar: The Way of Water. And Del Toro won his Oscar for The Shape of Water in 2018, establishing himself as an auteur and paving the way for his stop-motion Pinocchio, currently available to anyone with a Netflix subscription. Both of these movies very much are worth your time, so make time for them in the coming months. 

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.