5 Things We’ve Learned About Avatar: The Way of Water

5 Things We’ve Learned About Avatar: The Way of Water

It’s hard to believe that in just a few days, we’ll be welcomed back to the world of Pandora. After a quick, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 13 years, Avatar 2 is hitting cinemas, and in that time, plenty of things have changed both on-screen and behind the scenes. Lifehacker Australia was given access to the recent press conference with the cast, director and producers of Avatar: The Way of Water and here are some things we learned about the long-awaited sequel.

Avatar: The Way of Water

Sequel expectations

avatar the way of water
Image: 20th Century Studios

When Avatar was released in 2009, it not only broke our collective minds with its 3D technology, but it also broke records at the box office and still remains the highest-grossing movie of all time (sometimes trading places with Avengers: Endgame).

That sets standards pretty high for the sequel. Director, James Cameron, told the press that Avatar: The Way of Water is intended to get audiences “off-balance” and, like the first film, is something you have to “experience”:

“I think it’s important for a sequel to honour what the audience loved about the experience the first time. But also to, you know, get them off-balance, you know, do things that they don’t expect. There are a lot of surprises in terms of where the story goes in this film, that we’re not putting into the trailers and the TV spots and all that. You kind of have to experience it,” Cameron said.

A family affair

avatar the way of water
Image: 20th Century Studios

As we know from trailers and the like, Avatar 2 takes place some years after the first one, where Jake and Neytiri now have a family of their own. Actors Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana also became parents during the break between films, which was something that inspired Cameron when it came to the story of The Way of Water:

“It also goes a lot deeper, in terms of the heart and the emotions,” Cameron said. “… I was inspired by the fact that both Zoe and Sam are parents, and I’m a parent of five, so we wanted to get into the family dynamics, and the responsibilities of having kids. And also what that’s all like from the kid’s perspective.”

Saldana added that her own experiences with fear as a parent helped inform Neytiri’s character in the film:

“In my personal life, when I became a parent, fear entered my realm. The fear of losing something that you love so much, you know? And you just spend a great deal of your time creating these hypothetical scenarios that are just unimaginable. When I read, the second script, that was her. That was Neytiri,” Saldana explained.

Stephen Lang is back in Avatar 2

avatar the way of water
Image: 20th Century Studios

Stephen Lang’s antagonist, Miles Quaritch, seemingly died at the end of the first Avatar movie, but we’ll see him again in Avatar 2.

Quaritch said at the press conference that he was very excited to return to the character and find some “humanity” in this iteration:

“I was just so honoured to be able to deepen and expand on the vision that Jim had for this character. I think in the first film he’s very colourful, he’s got personality, he’s got some great qualities. But essentially he moves through like a mindless shark, in a way,” Lang said.

“But in this iteration of it, first of all there’s the absolutely magnificent irony that Jim has written of coming back as the very thing he has been trying to destroy. And having to make the adjustment to that, to adapt to that. …It was a total pleasure for me to continue to massage this character and find the depth, and maybe some of the humanity that’s in him.”

And so is Sigourney Weaver

avatar way of water
Image: 20th Century Studios

It’s been known for some time now that Sigourney Weaver will return to the franchise, despite her character, Grace, passing in the first film. Weaver will not be returning as the same character, like Stephen Lang, instead, she will be playing Kiri, Jake and Neytiri’s teenage daughter.

It’s an interesting choice, that’s for sure, but Weaver said she embraced the challenge of playing an adolescent:

“It was 2010 and we just had this idea, a girl who was more comfortable in the forest with the creatures and the flora and the fauna. But I think, all power to Jim, he wanted to create a complex character. …And so I loved that I had the opportunity to play someone I consider a real adolescent in most ways… But I was very honoured, too, and thrilled, excited, terrified,” Weaver said.

The actress also revealed she prepared for the role by going to high school classes to listen to the pitch of teenagers’ voices.

As for how the two characters are connected, Cameron explained that it’s all to do with Grace’s avatar, which happened to be pregnant before she died, making Kiri her biological daughter:

“Grace’s avatar was still alive, it has no mind of its own because it needed to be infused with Grace’s consciousness in order to move around and talk and so on. But it turned out to be pregnant, a vessel for this little baby,” Cameron said. “So she becomes [their] adoptive daughter. You know, Jake had a kind of mother/son relationship with Grace in the first film, she took him under her wing, and so, of course, he’s going to protect her child, and raise her child as his own.”

Kate Winslet’s record-breaking dive

avatar the way of water
Image: 20th Century Studios

Given that much of Avatar: The Way of Water takes place, well, underwater, it became necessary for the actors to conduct many of their scenes underwater. The cast trained long and hard in the art of freediving to perform their scenes, which resulted in many of the actors holding their breath for minutes at a time during scenes.

News came out recently that Kate Winslet actually broke Tom Cruise’s breath-holding record during Avatar 2’s production, and the actress spoke more about it during the press conference:

“I actually have a video of when I surfaced from that breath hold, and the only reason I have it is because my husband snuck in. And I knew that day that Kirk had said to me, ‘we’re going to go for another one today, Kate,’ and I said to Ned, ‘look, please don’t come, because I just don’t want you like videoing and I’ll just feel all pressure-y and whatever. Just please don’t be there.’ He snuck in, and I have the video of me surfacing saying, ‘Am I dead, am I dead, have I died?’ And then going, ‘what was it?’ Straight away I wanted to know my time. And I couldn’t believe that it was seven-fifteen,” Winslet recounted.

“…I wanted Jim to know right away, that’s the first thing I wanted to do.”

Avatar: The Way of Water is in cinemas on December 15. Tickets are on sale now.


Leave a Reply