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Exploring Avatar – Kiri’s Origins

Exploring Avatar – Kiri’s Origins

Exploring Avatar is a podcast myself and Gerry from Discovering Pandora produce on YouTube weekly. We try to have a new episode out each Friday at 10 CST, depending on a variety of factors that will vary some weeks.

For those who don’t want to watch the entire live stream, here is a short of some of our coverage of Kiri’s origins. If you’d like to see the entire stream, click below!

Interview Magazine featuring Sigourney Weaver

Interview Magazine featuring Sigourney Weaver

Since Kiri is such a hot topic, I wanted to share excerpts of a recent interview of Sigourney Weaver by Elizabeth Banks of Interview Magazine. If you’d like to read the interview in its entirety just click the link below.

Sigourney Weaver Interview Magazine

BANKS: Can we talk about the biggest movie of all time that you happen to also be in, Avatar? You worked with James Cameron when you were starting out, and he brings you back for this ginormous movie. What are the defining qualities that make James Cameron who he is and what’s your relationship like?

WEAVER: I think many people have a mistaken idea about Jim, that he’s really driven and really serious. Of course, that’s true, but it wasn’t until I was on the road with him hawking aliens that I realized how incredibly funny the guy is. I was like, “Where did this come from, and where was it when we were spending months running around with the machine gun you designed?” I know he’s going to present me with really unique challenges, and he’s not going to be shy about getting what he wants. In many cases, my first reaction is, “I can’t do that.” I don’t voice this, because I know that I’ll get teased mercilessly about what a wuss I am, but I think that everyone enjoys working with Jim because he does demand so much. On Avatar: The Way of Water, I was older than a lot of the other people, and we had to do a lot of parkour. We had to do burpees. We had to do freediving. Don’t you love these jobs where you have to learn some really outlandish thing that you keep with you for the rest of your life? Freediving, especially, I’m grateful that we spent a year doing that.

BANKS: How long can you hold your breath?

WEAVER: Our teacher Kirk Krack, who teaches the Navy Seals, would have us do these still breathe-ups. We were breathing up on, I think, at least 50 percent oxygen. What we’re breathing regularly is 30 percent oxygen, so you have the advantage of more oxygen in your tissues, and then you’d lie very still, not moving and holding your breath. My husband is from Hawaii and he’s a big swimmer and body surfer, so we took the training together, and we both one day held our breath for six and a half minutes.

BANKS: What?!

WEAVER: I know.

BANKS: Sigourney!

WEAVER: Kirk couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t believe it either, but that’s his training. You learn that you’re not going to die if you don’t take a breath. You learn to say to, he called it “the smiling villain” that wants you to breathe, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m doing this, see you later.” It’s a whole psychological thing. It’s very, very interesting stuff.

BANKS: What are the other projects that you have coming out?

WEAVER: So Avatar I can’t really talk about, but I would say that it’s the biggest stretch I get to play in every possible way. I think if Jim Cameron didn’t know me really well, he wouldn’t have cast me as something as goofy as this. I had to work in a completely different way to play this character, a very physical way.

Behind the scenes and set photos from the last few months

Behind the scenes and set photos from the last few months

Since I last covered the behind the scenes and set photos that have been posted by Avatar, Jon Landau, and James Cameron, and as I always say, three accounts you should be following, there has been several exciting ones posted, so lets dive in!

This is Britain Dalton (Lo’ak) doing underwater motion capture, it looks like he is possibly riding something under the water, maybe an Ilu from Pandora’s oceans, which we will be seeing in the sequels. We have seen very little of Lo’ak so far and know almost nothing about his character at this point, besides the fact he is Jake and Neytiri’s second oldest child. He has an older brother, Neteyam, and a younger sister Tuktirey.

This is Kate Winslet, who is going to be playing Ronal. Little is known about her character so far, what we do know is that in 2017 James Cameron had this to say about Kate, “She plays a character who’s part of the Sea People, the reef people.” Kate was recently on Stephen Colbert and had this to say about her character when the photo was taken, “That’s actually a birth giving ceremony, that my character, who is a water goddess, is essentially hosting. ” She also confirmed to Colbert that she is in Avatar 2 and 3.

How interesting, one can only speculate with what we know about Ronal, but it sounds like she may be part of the new Metkayina Clan, described as a reef people Na’vi clan, who dwell on giant oceanic atoll reefs under the rule of a leader named Tonowari. Perhaps she is their Tsahìk or something entirely different than a Na’vi. I know this, she is a very talented actress and I am excited to learn more about her character.

 

Next we have two images of the character Javier “Spider” Socorro, played by Jack Champion. What we know about Spider so far is that he is a teenage human born at the Hell’s Gate military facility. The second photo really intrigues me, no new information is shared with it apart from it being a thank you from Jon Landau to Jack, as Spiders filming was complete. The first one is Jack rehearsing for a scene.

Judging by the second photo alone he looks to be very Tarzan like. Wild, matted hair, little clothing, even his movements look like they could be similar to that of a primate. I am very intrigued by this character, how he fits in, why he appears to possibly be off living away from humans. Does he survive on Pandora without a mask? Is he an ally to the Na’vi?

Another great photo from the sequel rehearsals as James Cameron shows part of the cast some concept art. Sadly a lot of it hanging on the wall is edited out. From Left to Right, CCH Pounder (Mo’at), Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Cliff Curtis (Tonowari), Sigourney Weaver (Grace Augustine/unknown), Zoe Saldana (Neytiri), Oona Chaplin (Varang), Stephen Lang (Col Quaritch/unknown), Joel David Moore (Norm Spellman), and James Cameron.

It’s really great seeing a couple new faces mixed in with the old ones. I would love to know who Sigourney and Stephen are going to play. I believe Stephen will be back as Colonel Quaritch in some manner, perhaps as a clone. He was a fantastic villain and I look forward to seeing how they bring him back. Will we see Grace in some flashbacks as well as her new character? I believe we already have seen proof of that. Jon shared a photo you can read about HERE that mentions them being back in The Shack for the sequels and showing himself with Grace and Norm. It will be interesting to see. My gut still tells me she will be the “voice of eywa” or something similar, however I’ve noticed something in the next photo that makes me question my gut…

Here we see Sigourney doing underwater motion capture. Something I noticed though is it looks like the blue “rope” coming from her head is representing a Na’vi queue. Sigourney is on record of saying she doesn’t play the same character, which can mean a lot of things, especially in science fiction, but I feel like she very well may be a Na’vi or Avatar again, as well as being Grace in flashbacks.

James Cameron captioned this photo as- “The last set for 2020 filming —The Matador (a 50’ forward command boat) on a 16-ton, 360 degree motion-control base.” If you remember back in May of this year we saw another photo of The Matador, HERE, it was from up above and more clear. An interesting note, this ship also says “CET-OPS” on it, we’ve now seen that on multiple vessels from the sequels as it is confirmed to be on the Crabsuit as well. I am curious if that is a just another branch of SEC-OPS from the first movie, possibly they handle the aquatic portions of Pandora. Speaking of SEC-OPS…

Jon Landau had this to say about these two photos- “Garrett Warren, 2nd Unit Director, gives stuntman Steve Brown some notes before a take.” This is interesting, this is the second time we see Steven Brown, the previous time was the photo with General Ardmore (Edie Falco) and Dorman (Kevin Dorman), on the factory ship Sea Dragon. He is directly behind General Ardmore, you can see that HERE. In this photo Steve’s uniform gives off a very naval vibe, with blue and safety orange.

James Cameron captioned this as, “Three Technocranes and a Russian Arm mounted on top of a Mercedes-Benz. Just another day on the set of the Avatar sequels.” Wow, I would love to know what they are filming with the Mercedes. I’ve seen lots of behind the scenes using vehicles like this and it’s normally car chase sequences, so it is interesting to think how it may be used in the sequels. If you look at the photo right before this it would appear that the Russian arm and camera from the Mercedes is being used to film that shot. So possibly they are using it to get close to film particular shots of the large boat sets.

Jon Landau captioned this as, “Celebrating the wrap of live action photography—with Jemaine Clement, Brendan Cowell and James Cameron. Congrats to the entire crew in both New Zealand and Los Angeles. Incredible work!” It sounds like Avatar 2 is headed to post production with almost two years to get things finished to the level James Cameron envisions.

Avatar Sequel Set Pictures and speculation

Avatar Sequel Set Pictures and speculation

Hey everyone! Jon Landau continues to show amazing photos of sets and the cast from the upcoming sequels. He has recently shared some great news and that is that they are headed back to New Zealand next week to resume working on the Avatar sequels which have been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. He also recently shared the these photos.

The Matador, a high speed forward command vessel (bottom), and the Picador jetboat (top). Wow look at that harpoon on the Matador. I think these are clearly RDA boats, you can even see the “OPS” from what is most likely CET-OPS on the Picadors side, and CET from CET-OPS from the Matadors side. Curious what CET-OPS mean as we had SEC-OPS in the first film. If you rode the Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom you know we get to see some of the sea creatures that will most likely be in the sequels like the giant nalutsa. Also when Avatar released the first bit of concept art from the sequels we got to see two Na’vi riding ilu. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the RDA were hunting the nalutsa or ilu in the movie with giant harpoons like these.

Bottom row left to right, Zoe Saldana (Neytiri of the Omatikaya) and Sam Worthington (Jake Sully, Chief of the Omatikaya). Top row left to right, Kate Winslet (Ronal of the Metkayina) and Cliff Curtis (Tonowari, Chief of the Metkayina). This is fantastic to see, this is the first picture I’ve seen of Sam on set, and we get a chance to see them in the silver water mo-cap suits. We first saw the underwater suits in early 2018 when Zoe posted a video and some pictures of herself while wearing one on IG. The floating white balls were discussed by Jon on another photo, they prevent light from contaminating the underwater performance capture system while allowing anyone in the water to surface safely.

One of the first looks we got of the underwater mo-cap suits, shared by Zoe Saldana on IG in 2018.

James Cameron giving the actors direction before they dive underwater to capture performances for a scene. Here we get a blurry but good view of the white balls again. I would love to know who all is in this shot. I believe the far right could be Lea Catania.

This is such a cool behind the scenes shot of how they are doing the underwater mo-cap production. I really hope we get a great making-of book for Avatar 2. I can’t wait to learn so much more about all the new technology that’s going into the sequels.

The aft well deck section of the Sea Dragon, a massive mothership that carries an array of other sea-going craft in the Avatar sequels. It really looks like the RDA are looking to dominate the Pandoran oceans in Avatar 2. It will be very interesting to see how all of these different vessels play out.

Sigourney Weaver (Grace Augustine) and Joel David Moore (Norm Spellman) back in the Site 26 Shack set for some scenes for the new movies. Wow this picture sure brings back memories, it looks like it is straight from the original Avatar. It will have been 12 years between Avatar and Avatar 2, so I love the idea of flashbacks like this. Which brings me to the next photos that Jon shared with us in 2019, think there is any chance we get to see Trudy again in a flashback? I know she stopped by as a visitor, I think it would be pretty special if they worked her into a flashback.

Michelle Rodriguez (Trudy Chacon) with Garrett Warren (Avatar stunt coordinator).

Jon Landau and Michelle on set in New Zealand.

Michelle with James Cameron.