Somehow a decade has gone by since we last visited the paradise of Pandora but don’t worry, James Cameron’s not going to leave us waiting forever. Avatar 2 is mere days away, and it won’t be long until we’re reunited with Jake and Neytiri.
They won’t be alone, though. In the last 13 years, they’ve had a whole family of little Sullys, and you’ll get to meet them all in the new science fiction movie. There’s the eldest Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), their adopted daughter Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), the bold Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), the adorable Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss), and the human Spider (Jack Champion).
As the Sullys try and escape a dire new threat, though, they’ll be forced to abandon the Omaticaya and make their way to a new home where they’ll make new friends like Tsireya (Bailey Bass). Now we were lucky enough to see the new James Cameron movie, and we loved it (Check out our Avatar 2 review here). So when we were invited to talk to Jack Champion, Bailey Bass, and Jamie Flatters, we jumped at the chance to talk about returning to Pandora.
The Digital Fix: No pressure but Avatar’s the biggest movie ever made, so how did you, as relative newcomers, feel when you walked out on set in your mocap suits and literally dipped your toes into the water for the first time?
Jack Champion: I feel like…
Bailey Bass: Were you nervous? I wasn’t nervous…
JC: Yeah, I was definitely nervous. But I didn’t feel like I was dipping my toes in; I was just jumping in [laughs]. Yeah, so that was when I felt nervous, but I never felt like I didn’t know what to do just because of how prepared we were for everything.
BB: My first scene was literally jumping into the tank. So I was actually submerged in water. I wasn’t nervous, just like Jack said, we really had the best crew and the most supportive cast.
So the nerves kind of just washed away, and I was ready. And with Jim leading everything and explaining every scene in such great detail, it was easy to do the work.
Jamie Flatters: I was very nervous…
JC and BB: Awww
JF: I mean, training was all together. I kind of wish my first scene was going to be with the comfort of you guys, but my first scene was only with Sam and Zoey. So it was quite an intimidating way to start.
Still, I think that was a good lesson for the rest of the shoot. It’s like such a large-scale crew around you that if you ever start thinking about them, if you ever start thinking about the pressure round, it’s never gonna work out. So just lock eyes with the other actor, and we’ll be OK.
TDF: You mentioned earlier today [TDF had attended a panel with the young cast] that you almost found it more difficult fleming out of the water than in the water. Can you elaborate on that a little?
BB: Because I’m part of the Metkayina clan, a lot of my training had to do with water. So I spent a lot of time in the tank. So I became more comfortable swimming in a scene than running in a scene.
So much so that I had to speak with the onset choreographer, Joanne, on how to literally run and say my lines and time it out perfectly because I was so nervous because most of my days were spent in the water.
TDF: That’s interesting; obviously, the Metkayina are physically different from the Na’vi we’re used to. Did you build that ‘uncomfortableness’ when you were out of the water into the performance?
BB: Well, Cliff Curtis [who plays her father Tonowari] was a big part of that. He came, and he prepped with me, Phillip, and Juan, who are also part of the Metkayina clan, and we would walk around and bob our bodies up and down and just get really, really relaxed, learn how to just get very comfortable with our hips.
Because [the Metkayina] are more relaxed. They are one with the waves, they’re one with the ocean. So their movement will sway a little bit more. And you see that in the way they swim and the way they walk.
TDF: Obviously, when you’re on set, everyone’s in grey pyjamas, covered in ping pong balls, and you have to imagine the scenery of Pandora around you. So do you remember how you felt when you first saw footage from the film with the incredible VFX work completed?
JF: I thought was really nice experience, actually. Because [when you’re making a film this way] there was no space for ego to get involved. And I wouldn’t lie to say that if the first time you’re watching a clip, and you’ve been the actor, and it’s taken so long for you to see any footage that you’d start to think about your own performance and be judgmental. But actually, what was amazing was that you get transported in; it’s just as transcendental as the first film and as if I wasn’t even in a good way, in a great way.
JC: Well, the first time watching this footage. For me, it was D23. Was it the same for you guys?
JF:.. a little earlier
JC: Well, watching it with, what is it 8000 People or something like that? That was cool. Definitely, to just see not only people’s reactions but also just as a group. It’s like the ultimate movie cinema experience, and we all had 3D glasses on, and that was special.
TDF: The first film’s clearly a criticism of modern-day imperialism and the tendency for ‘more advanced’ countries to steal the resources of their neighbours. Do those themes carry over into the sequel?
BB: It expands on it. While we are introducing these new environments, you get to see the ocean, and the relationship of Lo’ak and [the tulkun] Payakan have is very, very special. And I remember the first time I watched it.
It reminded me of so many different movies, which just proves that Avatar The Way of Water is a movie for all ages, all generations, something that everyone can connect to because of the expansion of Pandora.
TDF: We’re being given the wrap-up, so I’ll finish by asking. Did James Cameron tell you anything about Pandora or the Na’vi that we’ll never see on screen that you can share with me now?
BB: I don’t think so. I honestly don’t think so. I think he explained everything in great detail for what we needed to do. The beauty of it is, that people can go to Disney World and experience Pandora. I mean, that felt so similar to what the training process was…
[Jamie Flatters goes to speak]
JC: Did he tell you something?
JF: I thought you were there that day? Ok, we’re going there. Well, we started talking one day about the genetics of the avatar body.
BB: Having babies?
JF: Well, there was the line, don’t shoot yourself in the…
JF: And then we had to talk about like, the sexual organ of the Na’vi…
BB: They do have genitals..
JF: Hey, that’s an exclusive.
TDF: Thanks so much for my headline, ‘Na’vi do have genitals say Avatar 2 cast’
JC: Yeah, he explained they don’t actually mate with their [ponytails]. That’s more a connection of the minds but it’s not sexual.
BB: That’s a cool fact.
TDF: Well I’m made up with that. Thank you all so much!
Avatar 2 will hit cinemas on December 16th 2022. If you need a refresher before seeing the film, be sure to read our article, ‘Everything you need to know before watching Avatar 2‘.