Famed filmmaker and deep sea explorer James Cameron has revealed the one scene which "crossed the line" over the sexualisation of women in film.

It comes after the director called last year's critically acclaimed film, Wonder Woman, a "step backwards" for women.

In Sydney as part of Vivid Ideas and to launch his major new exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum, James Cameron — Challenging the Deep, he told news.com.au it was a scene in Ridley Scott's Alien, the first of the series that would later be directed by Cameron, that forced him to push back on the objectification of women in film.

James Cameron said he never really operated under studio pressure. Photo / File
James Cameron said he never really operated under studio pressure. Photo / File

The scene is Sigourney Weaver's famous strip in one of the film's final moments. Weaver's character, Ellen Ripley, "dropped her gear", according to Cameron, leaving the viewers watching Weaver simply "in her panties".

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According to a 1981 interview with the actress, she was initially keen on the idea of her character being naked because it "would have been a nice contrast" to the alien story unfolding before her character.

"You see the alien in its birthday suit the entire film, so I thought it was a cop-out having me wear the underwear, and not stripping entirely," Weaver said.

After receiving criticism for the strip after the movie's release, Weaver said it never occurred to her that people might think the strip exploitative, but "having received the mail I have, I would now think twice about taking off all my clothes in a movie".

"People have said, 'Aw, how could you demean yourself by doing a striptease?' And I say, 'Are you kidding? After five days of blood and guts, and fear, and sweat and urine, do you think Ripley wouldn't take off her clothes?'"

But for Cameron, who took over the helm of the second film in the series, Aliens, the scene crossed the line.

"For me that stepped over the line, [when I took over] I said I think I can make a movie with a compelling female character who doesn't have to do that, so that's been my goal and my mission throughout," he told news.com.au.

"I've never really operated under studio pressure, I'm sure a lot of filmmakers do [feel pressure to sexualise characters], but I was able to be successful enough, early enough, that they kind of left me alone aesthetically.

After receiving criticism for the strip after the movie's release, Sigourney Weaver said it never occurred to her that people might think the strip exploitative. Photo / File
After receiving criticism for the strip after the movie's release, Sigourney Weaver said it never occurred to her that people might think the strip exploitative. Photo / File

"I follow my own muse for what I think is right. My films continue to be successful and they continue to not objectify women so I think that speaks for itself.

"I made it my goal to make women interesting without making them sex objects and I think I was pretty successful at doing that."

Cameron was slammed last year for criticising the Patty Jenkin's blockbuster, Wonder Woman, describing the movie as overly sexualised and "misguided".

"I think Hollywood has always over-objectified women," he continued.

"I mean, she was Miss Israel, and she was wearing a kind of bustier costume that was very form-fitting," Cameron said, referring to Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot.

"She's absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. To me, that's not breaking ground. They had Raquel Welch doing stuff like that in the 60s."

Cameron's comments caused such outrage it led director Jenkins to respond on Twitter, saying that "though he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman".

Cameron: 'AI apocalypse now'

In a prediction over the future of artificial intelligence, Cameron, who is working on the Terminator reboot, said that it was an "extreme likelihood" that artificial intelligence bots will exist and live in the world under human control.

But it's this prediction for the planet that has Cameron "more concerned about an AI apocalypse now".

James Cameron said that it was an
James Cameron said that it was an "extreme likelihood" that artificial intelligence bots will exist and live in the world under human control. Photo / File

"We are so dependent on technology right now that AI could easily wipe us out just by breaking all the links in our control systems," the 63-year-old said. "All you have to do is stop our information network and we'll be gnawing on each other's femurs in two weeks."

Talking to the Hollywood Reporter last year, Cameron noted there won't be a dramatic shift in human/robot interaction and that "suddenly we'll be living in a world where it has happened".

Cameron said that in meetings with artificial intelligence scientists he found he was "pretty sceptical" of the idea that humans could control robots once we effectively made them human.

"We probably can't control this," Cameron told news.com.au, noting the world was only 20-40 years away from the integration of robots in everyday life.

"It's an extreme likelihood that we will generate an artificial intelligence within the next two to four decades that is the equivalent to, or greater than us and has a true sense of itself," Cameron said.

"The question is what rights will we afford it? If we create this thing, we are responsible for it, we become its parents. Are we going to be responsible parents or are we going to create a slave?

"If we create something that's as smart as us and a complete being with a sense of identity and purpose and the ability to defend itself against non-existence and we only make it do what we want it to do, that's called slavery and I don't think it's going to like that.

"We are jointly evolving with our technology right now; it's changing the way we interact with each other socially, it's changing the way we work, it's changing everything about our lives, it's this vast experiment and there's no control group, there's no other planet Earth where we have a safe harbour for humans in case this goes out of control which, knowing human nature and human greed, I strongly suspect it will.

"The question is are we smart enough to recognise the symptoms early enough and fix it or are we just a throw-away stage in evolution that the machine intelligences of the distant future will look back on fondly?"