He directed movies like Titanic, Avatar and Terminator 2. He worked on the screenplay for True Lies and Rambo II. And for a time, James Cameron lived in his car.
That comes from a retrospective on the website IGN, which notes:
When James Cameron wrote the script [for Terminator] – his first feature length screenplay – he was barely making ends meet, even living in his car for a time. Cameron wanted to direct, and he knew that this screenplay was his best ticket. Of course, his stipulation to direct the film was also the biggest burden to sell to producers. The production companies he met with liked his script, but none of them were too keen on handing the camera over to someone with so little real experience. In the end, he sold his script to producer Gale Anne Hurd for one dollar – but the director’s chair was his.
It’s hard to imagine the multimillionare Hollywood legend struggling at this level and betting his future on such a demand. But not only is it true, it’s also something else others have done. Sylvester Stallone, for example, has a similar story. And while writer Aaron Sorkin didn’t have to beat poverty, he defeated drug addiction. And Martin Scorsese probably became a movie lover as a child because a bad case of asthma kept him indoors.
Failure is the secret to success. Great heights are achieved only after great failures.