The relationship between National Geographic and James Cameron just became a bit more special, with the "Avatar" and "Titanic" director becoming the first living celebrity to land the cover of the 125-year-old magazine.

“We’re not about celebrities; we’re about exploration,” editor-in-chief Chris Johns told the Washington Post. Cameron is “the only person who, by himself, has gone to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. He talks the talk and walks the walk.”

Indeed, Cameron has built a solid reputation over several decades for his ocean exploration endevaours — from diving the Titanic to breaking records in a seven-mile descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench last year. In the process, he's also contributed invaluable engineering advances in submersible technology. In March, he announced that he would be donating his Deepsea Challenger one-man sub to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He also donated an extreme-depth unmanned undersea exploration system known as a "lander" to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“James Cameron is hard-core. He’s out there. That’s why I love him," added Johns.

For the June cover, Cameron threw on a wet suit and jumped into a water tank, patiently holding his breath while photographer Marco Grob took the shots. “I was sometimes concerned,” Grob told NatGeo. “I’d knock on the window and say, ‘Hey, come up.’”

Next month, the 58-year-old — who is also a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence — will be honored at the magazine's 125th anniversary gala along with BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and philanthropist Howard Buffet.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

James Cameron lands cover of National Geographic
Director and explorer's appearance on the cover is a first in the magazine's 125-year history.