Sigourney Weaver Shares Her Chief Concern About Returning For Avatar: The Way Of Water, And How It Was Resolved

Light spoilers for Avatar: The Way of Water lie ahead, so proceed with caution.

Avatar: The Way of Water has finally arrived, and a number of the stars from the original are along for the ride, including Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña. One franchise alum that some probably didn’t expect would be involved in the proceedings is Sigourney Weaver, who played the now-deceased Dr. Grace Augustine in the first movie. This time around, Weaver plays Kiri, the adopted daughter of Jake Sully and Neytiri. Interestingly, the veteran actress had one primary concern when it came to taking on the role, and she’s revealed how it was eventually resolved. 

Ahead of the highly anticipated sequel’s release, director/co-writer James Cameron shed some light on the intimate relationship between Sigourney Weaver’s two characters. Kiri was born from Grace’s avatar, though the specifics of the conception are still a bit foggy, particularly the identity of her father. Weaver sat down with CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell to discuss her work on The Way of Water and explained how her new role came to fruition: 

Well, I knew Jim [Cameron] and I had met in 2010 and kind of had lunch and discussed the idea of creating a character who was related to Grace Augustine but was her own person, her own spirit, someone who felt more comfortable in the natural world than she does with people, all of these things. And so they were cooking in me for a while, and when he sent me all four scripts – which he sent all of them at once to all of us – I was just so excited by what he created – the family, the worlds, the threats. And Kiri and her friend Spider, the human boy, they have such a special relationship, and Kiri has such a special relationship.

Sigourney Weaver once said that James Cameron cast her as a 14-year-old girl because he believed she was “immature” enough to pull it off. The 73-year-old Hollywood veteran said that enjoyed getting to embody that youthful energy. Later in the interview, Weaver spoke about her approach to the role while also discussing the key worry that she had amid her preparation: 

So my one concern once I read it was I started to reconstruct myself as a 14-year-old based on my excruciating memories of being that age. The one concern I had was the voice, and I went to a few classes at LaGuardia High School for that age group. And what I discovered was that there’s such a range. Some kids sound like kids, some kids sound like adults. Girls and boys, it’s all over the place. So then I just let Kiri have the voice that he has, and I’d check with Jim every now and then, and he was very happy. So that was, you know… I had to achieve some things and develop them before I got to the set to really let go and be that age. But we kept being postponed, so I had plenty of time to do that.

Kudos to the Alien icon for putting in the work to ensure that she was able to craft Kiri effectively, and anyone who’s seen the film likely knows that she absolutely nailed the role. As she noted, kids can have a variety of voices, so there was certainly room for her to try out different vocal tones. The actress also mastered a number of other challenges to prepare for her performance. For example, she underwent freediving training along with the rest of the cast. Talk about commitment.

Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron will surely continue to add new layers to Kiri, as the actress is set to reprise the role in the smattering of Avatar sequels that are on the way. One can’t help but be curious about what lies ahead for the inquisitive, young Na’vi. Regardless of how things play out for her though, I’m confident that Weaver will continue to beautifully breathe life into this character with no concerns whatsoever.

Avatar: The Way of Water is now playing in theaters, and you can also stream the original 2009 movie using a Disney+ subscription. With the year winding down, be sure that you also take a look at the 2023 new movie releases schedule to learn about what’s premiering in the new year.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.