Why Sigourney Weaver Asked For Her Avatar 2 Character To Be Redesigned

Avatar: The Way of the Water actress Sigourney Weaver told franchise creator James Cameron she wanted to redesign the nuances of her character’s appearance to bolster the realism of the look. The first Avatar film was released in 2009 and marked a new era of computer-generated imagery competency. The long-awaited Avatar: The Way of the Water arrives on December 16 as the first of the four planned Avatar sequels, with many of the original actors reprising their roles or undertaking new ones.

Weaver played Dr. Grace Augustine in the original film, but the character dies in the final act. Weaver, a longtime collaborator with Cameron, is in the sequel’s cast as a different character, this time playing a teenage Na’Vi girl named Kiri. Kiri is one of the four children born to Avatar’s main protagonists, human-turned-Na’Vi-warrior Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Na’Vi Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Weaver once said the plot is based on Cameron’s own family, and his experiences as the father to four children.

In an interview with Vanity Fair’s « Little Gold Men » podcast, Weaver explained the changes she sought to her Avatar: The Way of the Water character’s appearance. Despite being of a different species, Weaver told Cameron she intended to bring the imperfections and insecurities of human adolescence to the new Na’Vi character. While the Avatar story takes place in the future, on a distant planet called Pandora, images show Weaver’s humanizing suggestions were taken in kind. Read Weaver’s full comments below:

« I had a very early conversation with Jim about this, and he was very already committed to this kind of character, but who she was, what she was about was something we talked about at the beginning. I loved the choices he made ultimately, that she was part of the family. We worked together too, because when I first saw the pictures of my character, she was so perfect, every hair in place. And I said, ‘Jim, when you’re a 13, 14-year-old girl, that is not how you feel about yourself.’ I was this tall when I was 11, so I was just like a big spider moving around, knocking things over. And I felt that it was a more difficult time for Kiri, especially because the family is uprooted in the beginning. »

« I got together with the designers or the drawers and just brought some awkwardness. That’s what he ended up calling it now, ‘awkward Kiri,’ as opposed to ‘perfect Kiri.’ For better or worse, my awkward, self-conscious teenager was able to flow right into Kiri, and I had to work in a completely different way, which is kind of letting it flow into me, letting her—I don’t know that any of us is very far removed from our adolescent moment, because it certainly stands out in bold relief for a lot of people. I’m not sure how far I’ve gotten away from my teenager, but Jim said to me, ‘You can do this. You’re so immature. This is about how old you are anyway.' »

The Lord of the Rings’ Gollum (Andy Serkis) was a successful case study in the prospect of incorporating a CGI character, but the first Avatar film raised the stakes with a predominately computer-generated cast and setting. Though the characters are blue, 10 feet tall, and distinctively not human, their faces miraculously resemble those of the actors through advanced motion capture technologies. A high-resolution camera is fitted to the actor’s head and angled toward their face, which is mapped with dots. All the actor’s facial expressions are capture real-time, and then processed through an animation software for a look that’s alien, but dense with recognizable emotion. The franchise is still on the cutting edge of CGI technologies; the Avatar sequels have experimented with a new underwater motion capture system that Cameron touts as the most realistic option for water-intensive stories like the upcoming films.

The second and third installments of the Avatar franchise were filmed simultaneously, and the standing plan is to repeat the process and shoot Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 in sync after giving viewers another look at Pandora. The unconventional shoot and pricey technological innovations have ballooned costs, with the Avatar: The Way of the Water costs coming in at roughly $250 million. When the sequel does hit the theaters after years of delays, it will have been 13 years since the original was released. It’s a challenge to gauge the number of remaining invested fans, but like the original, Avatar: The Way of the Water will likely draw viewers interested in observing the state of fantasy movie-making technology.

Source: Vanity Fair