When it comes to James Cameron’s style of filmmaking, the easy way out is never an option. While other filmmakers would have been content to rig their actors on wires in front of a greenscreen to depict underwater sequences, Cameron had special equipment built to film the scenes underwater for real. The actors were expected to level up as well, as Sigourney Weaver, who was 70 years old at the time of filming Avatar 2, revealed during an interview with The New York Times.
“I had some concerns [about the stunt work]. But that’s what the training was for. And I really wanted to do it. I didn’t want anyone to think, ‘Oh, she’s old, she can’t do this.’… My hope is that what I receive from the universe is even more outrageous than anything I can think of. I don’t really say to myself, ‘Well, you can’t do this.’ Or, ‘You can’t do that.’ Let me at it! And we’ll see.”
According to Sigourney Weaver, a large part of her prep for Avatar 2 involved deep-sea diving in Key West, Florida, and in Hawaii, where she would “recline on the ocean floor while manta rays glided over her.” Additionally, since the actors had to hold their breath for all the underwater sequences, Weaver also trained with “elite military divers so that she could hold her breath, after a big gulp of supplemental oxygen, for more than six minutes.”
The preparations did not end there, since Weaver and the other actors also had to learn to keep their mouths or eyes from squinting or clamping underwater. Weights around her waist ensure Weaver would not suddenly rise to the top of the gigantic water tank the scenes were filmed in, while professional divers were on hand to take her back to the surface for air at brief, regular intervals.
The last time an actor prepared so much for underwater filming was Tom Cruise for one of his Mission Impossible movies that required him to hold his breath for six minutes. But in that case, Cruise was allowed to look like he was having trouble holding his breath to add to the tension of the scene, while for Avatar 2, the actors had to act like they were completely comfortable staying underwater for several minutes at a time, which must have been even more difficult.
Weaver appeared in the original Avatar in the role of Dr. Grace Augustine, an exobiologist who acts as a mentor to the series protagonist Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington. The actress previously stated she will be seen in a new role in Avatar 2. Hopefully, all that time and effort on the part of the movie’s cast and crew will result in an unforgettable viewing experience when Avatar 2 finally hits the screens.
Written and directed by James Cameron, Avatar 2 features a returning cast of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Edie Falco, Kate Winslet, Oona Chaplin, Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, and David Thewlis. The film arrives in theaters on December 16, 2022. This news first appeared at NYTimes.