Avatar 2’s Kate Winslet Reveals Her Rivalry With Zoe Saldaña’s Character

Neytiri and Ronal in Avatar: The Way of Water
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The last time that Kate Winslet worked on a James Cameron project was when she was fighting for her life in the freezing cold water in the Oscar-winning flick Titanic. 26 years later, this British actress will show off her breath-holding talents again, but as a blue-skinned leader of the Metkayina clan. After working with her Titanic director again in Avatar: The Way of Water, Winslet talks about going back in the water head to head against Zoe Saldaña’s Neytiri. 

Just like how Jake Sully felt like an outsider entering into the Na’vi for the first time, Zoe Saldaña’s Neytiri will experience those same vibes as she and Jake venture into different regions of Pandora. Avatar: The Way of Water will have a central focus on the family he made with Neytiri as they seek refuge with the unwelcoming Metkayina clan. In an interview with Empire, Kate Winslet spoke about who she’ll be playing in the highly anticipated Avatar sequel.

Ronal is a formidable female character. Like Neytiri, she holds her family's needs close to her heart and will stop at nothing to protect her children and her people. A true mother, in every sense.

Just like Neytiri, Ronal will be a classic James Cameron female character. If only more filmmakers were like James Cameron in that sense where they aren’t afraid to show the strength women have on the big screen. Especially with Ronal and Neytiri being mothers, you wouldn’t dare mess with them. In the face of grave danger, Ronal fights alongside her mate against enemy forces who threaten the existence of her people, the Metkayina clan who inhabit the reefs of Pandora. The conflict is that Neytiri is also a force to be reckoned with. In the previous movie, Neytiri fought with her people against humans who wanted to infiltrate their land with Jake by her side through it all. 

While Neytiri and Ronal hold the same beliefs, they still see each other as a danger to one another. Winslet continues to explain how these two female opposites exhibit the same features.

These two females are so aligned in their deep desire to keep their individual families safe. They are both powerful, willful creatures who respect their husbands but will not be led by them. They carve their own paths, and they expect to be listened to. They are both physically as capable as one another, and in the world of Pandora, the need for physical ability amongst all tribespeople is not only important — it is crucial. They also need to possess equal strength to their male counterparts, which both these females do. In staggering ways. Working with Zoe was just wonderful. Her commitment to the world of Pandora and being Na'vi is so embedded within her now that it is truly inspiring to be around. It's as if it's in her blood now.

With Kate Winslet playing a strong female character with exceptional physical strength underwater, this was an opportunity for The Reader actress to show off her sea legs. Just when you think she held her breath long enough in those underwater scenes of Titanic, she actually held her breath for seven minutes while playing Ronal. Producer Jon Landau couldn’t believe how natural she looked swimming in that tank like she grew gills overnight! Her secret to doing those crazy underwater scenes was four weeks of intense training in a diving tank. The Holiday actress should be very proud of herself for being able to adapt to Ronal’s underwater warrior skills.

It appears that Neytiri and Ronal will have some clashes with each other in Avatar: The Way of Water as they both fight for the safety of their families. I’d like to believe these two characters will realize the fight should not be between each other, but evil forces out there threatening the ways of the Na’vi and the Metkayina clan. Get ready to head into the water with the Avatar sequel coming to theaters on December 16th.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.