Q  &  A   W  I  T  H   R  O  N   C  O  B  B

Ron Cobb is a cartoonist, artist, writer, film designer, and film director. His stunning work and designs can be seen in Aliens, The Abyss and True Lies, but it's not limited to James Cameron movies. Ron also contributed designs to such classics like Star Wars IV : A New Hope, Alien, Back To The Future and Total Recall among many others.

JamesCameronOnline was thrilled to conduct a short Q&A with Mr. Cobb about his work on James Cameron movies.

JAMESCAMERONONLINE: Do you recall your first meeting with James Cameron?

RON COBB: I seem to remember multiple 'first' meetings. I'm not sure which one was first. I do remember getting a phone call from Jim to set up a meeting.

JCO: How was working on ALIENS different than working on ALIEN?

RC: It was quite a bit more efficient in terms of both of us having a general knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, science and creative problem solving through engineering. Alien was a classic horror/science/fantasy with Ridley Scott adding the classy elements of film art. Not that Cameron didn't have a good eye It's just that his talent spanned smoothly from science to art, a mix I have always aspired to.

JCO: How specific was James Cameron in his directions and requirements?

RC: He was very specific. Jim always had a strong vision with all his scripts and features. However, he was always open to good ideas from just about anyone (but they had to be damn good ideas). If I could submit an ides or design that collaboratively enhanced his vision (something I always endeavored to do on any film project) Cameron was quite receptive.

JCO: Would you say that he was very demanding?

RC: Yes.

JCO: Do you recall any ideas that didn't make it past the designing stage?

RC: Yes, the wedge shaped APC with the 360 degree turning wheels positioned at the rear. I never found out why it was passed over. My guess was, It was too expensive and too difficult to depict both as a miniature and a full sized mock-up.

APC Blueprint courtesy of Ron Cobb. Click to enlarge

JCO: How did you get involved in The Abyss?

RC: It all happened in Los Angeles. I really can't remember.

JCO: Steve Burg, who was hired for The Abyss at your suggestion, said that he and you worked very close together on the designs. Can you explain the working process between you two?

RC: We both strive for the same thing. Steve has a very good grasp of what heightens the drama in such scripts: persuasive believability.

JCO: You're credited as the designer of the dive suits as well. Did you also designed the look of the then newly developed helmets?

RC: I came up with the initial designs for the breathing tanks and helmets. Jim and the helmet manufactures were pleased enough to come very close to my designs for the final functioning equipment.

JCO: Around the same time you were also working on another underwater movie called Leviathan. How did it affect your work and approach for the designs in The Abyss?

RC: Not at all. They were two different kettles of fish. The Abyss was Science fiction, Leviathan was Horror/Science/Fantasy.

JCO: How was it different working for James Cameron this time?

RC: It wasn't.

JCO: You are credited as the designer of the Omega Sector logo from True Lies. How did you get involved in the project?

RC: Again it was probably a phone call. ( I also designed the H bombs. )

JCO: Lastly, what is your favorite James Cameron movie?

RC: I have two: 'Terminator' and 'The Abyss'.


JamesCameronOnline sincerely thanks Mr. Cobb for this interview and wish him luck in his future projects