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(CNN) – Filmmaker James Cameron has been a titan of the box office for decades. So when he decided he wanted to create a series about climate change, it was only fitting that he would inject it with all the drama and suspense of one of his signature blockbusters.
Cameron says the project – "Years of Living Dangerously" – was not an easy sell to Hollywood, but just as he has tackled so many other productions, he lined up enough talent – including Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Barack Obama – to try to bring the compelling story of climate change to the screen.
"People have so many worries with the economy the way it is, they just don't want to think about this," Cameron said.
"It takes people you can relate to, that you feel familiar with because you've seen them your whole lives, maybe, telling you that this is something you've got to pay attention to," Cameron says in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
The series follows individual lives being transformed by climate change, from droughts in Texas, to raging wildfires in the West, to the after effects of Superstorm Sandy.
The filmmaker paints a dire picture of what is to come if climate change is not addressed. But Cameron remains optimistic, saying a lot can still be done, such as taxing carbon, cutting emissions, and shifting to alternative energy.
"Everything that we do now will make a huge difference in 10, 20, 30 years on people's lives around the world, and not just in poor countries, but right here," says the filmmaker.
"One of the things that's shocking about the show is to see how Americans right now are being affected by climate change, this is not something in the future," says Cameron.
For our full interview with director James Cameron, including talk of the difficulties of deep water search, check out the video above.
"Years of Living Dangerously" premieres Sunday on Showtime.