Sigourney Weaver says playing a teenage girl in Avatar’s second episode is the “safe way” to return to her teenage years.
The 73-year-old Alien actress also told PA News Agency at the highly anticipated world premiere of Avatar: The Way Of Water – at Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square, London, that the actors were “at each other’s throats” like a real family during filming.
Weaver stars as the adopted teenage daughter of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana’s characters Jake Scully and Neytiri, who play the Na’vi people who live on the human-overrun planet Pandora.
In the original Avatar, released in 2009, Weaver played researcher Dr. Grace Augustine but did not reprise that role and Worthington was human before becoming a Na’vi.
Asked by PA about having to recreate his teenage years all over again, Weaver said: ‘I remember being 14, 15…so I often wanted to disappear (and) remember what a swing it was .
“You’re on top of the world and you feel like everything is unfair and a lot of opposing things are happening at different times – and Kiri is very much like that, so that was fascinating.
“It was sort of a safe way (to) go back to my teenage years.”
Weaver said the film, directed by James Cameron, has “family” as its central environmental theme because it is more “universal and relatable”.
She added: “It was a joy to be part of this family, we were at each other’s throats sometimes, Jim (Cameron) wanted that…for us to have fun, always have fun and that’s it. really is a real family.”
Saldana also told PA: “(The story) felt like a natural progression for someone like Jake and Neytiri.
“That’s the natural path they decided to take, is to start a family and keep that family together, to protect that family.”
The actors meet their marine parents and therefore had to learn to snorkel and hold their breath underwater for several minutes in real life for filming.
Saldana was also asked about the difficulties in holding her breath during these long periods.
The 44-year-old Guardians of the Galaxy actress said, “It was the stakes that were (there) for us as artists, preparing and training to portray a character again.
“It was quite daunting at first, but once we got through the training with world class freedivers it was exhilarating.”
Bailey Bass, who plays one of the new Na’vi characters, said she loved ‘being’ in the water, while holding her breath, and called it one of her favorite moments from the filming.
The 19-year-old, who recently starred in Interview With The Vampire, added: “To hold your breath for a long time, you need to be in a meditative state.
“So as much as people think it’s a challenge, and it’s scary, because you have to be calm, hold your breath, I was comfortable.”
Titanic actress Kate Winslet also joins the cast – where she reunites with Cameron from her breakthrough role in Titanic – alongside fellow newcomers Jack Champion and Edie Falco.
Bass also said she “freaked out” when she found out she was playing Winslet’s daughter, a free diver from another water-based Na’vi clan, Metkayin.
She added: “I’m just like, oh, wow. I mean, she’s a legend, and being able to be with her in a scene…it feels like a once in a lifetime (opportunity) but who knows?
“It can always happen again. We never know.”
Stephen Lang, who plays Colonel Miles Quaritch, and Joel David Moore as Dr. Norm Spellman also return for the sequel.
Avatar: The Way Of Water is set to hit theaters on December 16.