‘Avatar’ Creator James Cameron Shoots From the Hip … With a Nail Gun

ABC News’ Victoria Thompson (@ VicThompsonABC ) and Lauren Effron (@ Leffron831) report:

Don’t yammer on your cellphone while working with James Cameron because the filmmaker might nail-gun your phone to the wall.

That’s just one of the quirky stories to have circulated about Cameron over the years. In an exclusive television interview with “Nightline” anchor Bill Weir, however, Cameron laughed it off and said the nail-gun thing was an exaggeration.

“I really only threaten to nail gun the stuff,” Cameron said.

Having been a passionate environmental activist for years, Cameron (jokingly) warned that he would brandish his infamous nail gun at anyone caught driving a gas-guzzling SUV, including the “Nightline” anchor.

“Oh, right, like take a nail gun to somebody’s car if it is a gas hog,” he said. “If you show up in an SUV – Weir in a Hummer – you get the nail gun.”

Cameron, 57, has lived completely “off the grid,” with solar energy and a windmill of his own design on his home near Santa Barbara, Calif. “I used to love fast cars and big four-wheel drives, the bigger the better,” he said. “It was hard for me to give that up, but it was important.”

Originally from Ontario, Canada, the college dropout set out to redefine the way films are made. “Avatar” was a blockbuster movie that would not have been possible if Cameron and his team hadn’t invented the cameras and software to make it.

READ: James Cameron reveals new “under the sea” details about “Avatar 2? and “3?

From making other blockbuster films such as “Terminator,” “Aliens” and “Titanic,” Hollywood insiders used to scoff at his audacious vision and budgets, until the movies would break box-office records.

“Avatar” cost $300 million to make, but became the highest-grossing film ever, raking in a worldwide total of $1.859 billion just a month after its 2009 release. It knocked out another Cameron blockbuster, “Titanic,” from the top spot, which raked in $1.843 billion in its first month at the box office in 1997.

“Titanic” is making a resurgence as a 3D film next year. While going through the film frame-by-frame to convert it to 3D, Cameron said it was the first time in five or six years he had rewatched it.

“It’s kind of slow at the beginning, but it gets going,” he said. “About half way through it, I said, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember how this sucker works now.’”

Watch Bill Weir’s full interview with James Cameron on “ Nightline” tonight at 11:35 ET