Opening in theaters on December 16th is the highly-awaited sequel to 2009’s box office smash ‘Avatar,’ entitled ‘Avatar: The Way of Water.’

Once again written and directed by groundbreaking filmmaker James Cameron, the new film picks up more than a decade after the original and sees Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his family escaping from the return of Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), and looking for refuge with the reef people clan of Metkayina, a water-dwelling species on Pandora.

In addition to Worthington and Lang, the film also welcomes back Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, CCH Pounder as Mo’at, and Giovanni Ribisi as Parker Selfridge, as well as Sigourney Weaver as new character Kiri, who is the daughter of Dr. Grace Augustine’s avatar.

Joining the cast are Edie Falco as General Frances Ardmore, Jermaine Clement as Dr. Ian Garvin, Cliff Curtis as Tonowari the leader of the Metkayina, and reuniting with Cameron for the first time since ‘Titanic,’ Kate Winslet as Tonowari’s wife, Ronal.

Also joining the cast for the sequel are Jamie Flatters and Britain Dalton as Jake and Neytiri’s sons, Neteyam and Lo’ak, respectively. Trinity Bliss plays Jake and Neytiri’s daughter Tuk, while Bailey Bass and Filip Geljo play Tonowari and Ronal’s children, Reya and Aonung, respectively. Finally, Jack Champion joins the cast as Spider, the long lost son of Miles Quaritch.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of traveling to London to sit down in-person with Oscar-winning director James Cameron and Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet to talk about the work on ‘Avatar: The Way of Water.’

The filmmaker discussed the sequel, the challenges of making it, how the technology has changed since the original, and his plans for more sequels, while Winslet talked about reuniting with Cameron, joining the sequel, and learning to hold her breathe.

Kate Winslet stars in director James Cameron's 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

Kate Winslet stars in director James Cameron's 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interviews with Cameron, Winslet, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Jack Champion, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Jamie Flatters, and Bailey Bass.

MF: To begin with, Kate, what was it like for you to reunite with James Cameron for the first time since ‘Titanic’ on ‘Avatar: The Way of Water?’

Kate Winslet: Yeah, very long time ago. Yeah, it's 26 years ago. It was amazing and absolutely incredible. The script was always going to be phenomenal because it's ‘Avatar.’ Again, for Jim, it's a world he created. He writes for women in a way that is extraordinary.

He always creates strong, not just female characters, but female leaders, women who are powerful mothers who lead with integrity. So, I just appreciated being asked. I was excited to jump in. I absolutely loved every minute of it. It was a wonderful experience.

MF: Director James Cameron has said that he knew he wanted to do a sequel to ‘Avatar’ pretty quickly after finishing the original. When did he ask you to be involved in the sequel?

KW: It was I guess quite a long time. He first mentioned something to me almost in passing back in 2014 or 2015. I guess it was around that time. I had seen him for an event in LA and he said, "Oh, we have to get you big and blue sometime." I said, "Oh yeah, I'd love that." The seed was sown.

Then in late 2017 was when he actually called and said, "I really do want to send you this script." He described Ronal to me as being a female warrior goddess, and leader of a clan. I just thought, my God, if it really is that, this could be extraordinary.

I read the script and loved it, and was particularly taken by not only the elements of family and motherhood, but also this added physical challenge of learning how to free dive and breath hold, which I was just so excited by and not remotely daunted by. I had no fear around the idea of any of that. I just loved learning something new in my 40s.

It's so funny, when you are young, you think you've learned all of the new things that you could learn, and as an adult, we close our minds off to the possibility of learning something new. So, to be in a situation that provided this wonderful opportunity for me was just amazing.

Jake Sully, Ronal, and Tonowari in 20th Century Studios' 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

(L to R): Jake Sully, Ronal, and Tonowari in 20th Century Studios' 'Avatar: The Way of Water.' Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

MF: I understand that you broke a record on set because you were able to hold your breath for seven minutes and 12 seconds, is that correct?

KW: Seven minutes and 14 seconds. You have to oxygenate your body, and there's a whole breathing sequence that you do, and it's quite a considerable process. It's not to be tried at home and you cannot do it by yourself. Actually, that's a very important safety thing.

You really mustn't do it alone because what happens is when people surface from having held their breath, there's a particular breathing sequence that you need to do the minute you hit the surface. If you don't do that, you could be in danger of blacking out, and that's when people run into trouble. That was the thing I learned, first of all, which we all did, was the safety. Once you know what you're doing, it certainly makes things a lot easier.

I just loved the whole process. It was amazing. Yeah, seven minutes, 14 seconds. I was incredibly proud of myself and really determined that I was going to do it, I was going to do a big breath hold that day. I had my heart set on it. I even said to my husband, "Don't come to work today to watch because I just don't want the pressure of you being there."

But actually, he was there. He snuck in and he actually videoed the last part of my breath hold. We got it on camera, me surfacing and going, "Am I dead? What happened?" Straight away, I'm like, "How long was that?" It's pretty cool!

Director James Cameron for 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

Director James Cameron for 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

Moviefone: Mr. Cameron, can you talk about the performance capture suits you used for this film, and have they changed at all from the ones you used on the original?

James Cameron: The suits were the same. We improved the head rigs a bit. I mean, we improved everything. It was all a prototype when we did it on ‘Avatar.’ We didn't know it was going to work and then we found out it worked pretty well, so then we improved it all. But the process is the same. It's just there's no real camera, there's no set. It's just a pure interaction between the actors. They love it and I love it.

I don't have to get distracted by the lighting and the camera work, and the Dolly track and the steady cam stuff. I can just work directly with the actors. I had returning cast, obviously, Sigourney, Sam and Zoe, but I also had this whole new cast with these kids, these newcomers. It was just a joy to go to work every day. Not a joy necessarily always during the day when you're solving problems and that sort of thing. But we really enjoyed it.

MF: The look of the sequel is incredible and is even more spectacular than the original. Looking forward to ‘Avatar 3,’ ‘Avatar 4,’ and even possibly ‘Avatar 5,’ with technology constantly improving, what do you expect those film’s will look like in the future?

JC: I think over time we'll shift from the novelty value of being in the world. We can assume that. You walk in, you sit down, you can assume it'll be immersive because that's our baseline. It's really about, how much do I care about these characters, and where's this story taking me? Where's this journey taking me?

I mean, we're always going to try to bring in wonders, awesome moments, amazing vistas and all that sort of thing, but we're also shifting our focus to the story of the characters and the emotion, which I think is healthy. Because it shouldn't just be about pretty pictures. The immersive stuff, we know how to do that so they'll all be like that.

MF: Were you already planning for this sequel when you made the original?

JC: Not really. No. The only thing was that when the studio wanted to take out the scene where Grace (Sigourney Weaver) dies and I said, "You can't take that out. We need that scene. It's very important. It's very important for the sequel." I hadn't even written the story yet, but I knew that there was a connection there.

They wanted to take it out and ultimately it just turned into a big headbutting contest, and I won. So, it's in (the original), therefore we have this movie, at least the Kiri character, comes out of that part of the story.

MF: Are there scenes in ‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ that you kept in because you needed them for the next three installments?

JC: Oh yeah. Like I said, it's all written out so we know exactly.

MF: Finally, have you already shot everything you need for ‘Avatar 3?’

JC: ‘Avatar 3’s done. I mean, the movie's not done, but the capture, all the work with the actors is done. So, dramatically it's all set in stone. We have to go through the process of making it look real and immersive, and all that sort of thing. That'll take a couple years.

Then part of ‘Avatar 4’ is not done, but the script is done, and part of ‘Avatar 4’ has been shot. Because we had to finish with these kids because they're not going to be kids. In fact, they're not kids now.

Jack's 6 ft 8" or whatever. He was 12 when I cast him. Trinity Bliss, she's such a sweet girl. She was seven when I cast her, and she's now 13 and about two feet taller. So, we had to bottle that lightning while we had it through the first part of movie 4. And then there's a big time jump, and then we see all the characters six years later.

So, then everybody will be the right age for the continuation of the story. I didn't want to get caught in that ‘Stranger Things’ thing where they're still in high school but they look 25. I like ‘Stranger Things,’ don't get me wrong. It's fine and I go with it that they're still teenagers.

'Avatar: The Way of Water'

'Avatar: The Way of Water' opens in theaters on December 16th. Photo courtesy of the movie's Twitter account.

Avatar: The Way of Water

"I guess I blue myself…again"
76
PG-133 hr 12 minDec 16th, 2022
Showtimes & Tickets