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Avatar 2's Zoe Saldaña Talks Getting Over-The-Top Emotional After Seeing Footage From The James Cameron Sequel

Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in Avatar
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

To say we’ve been waiting a long time for Avatar 2 would be an understatement, because as of last December, it’s been 12 years since the original Avatar premiered in theaters. Provided the James Cameron-helmed sequel isn’t delayed any further, we’ll finally return to Pandora this December, and among the familiar faces back for this next round is Zoe Saldaña reprising Neytiri. It remains to be seen when the public will get to see footage from Avatar 2 for the first time, but Saldaña has already gotten a taste, and it produced some over-the-top emotions.

During an interview about her new Netflix movie The Adam Project with Reelblend cohost Kevin McCarthy, Zoe Saldaña was asked to shed some light on doing performance capture underwater for Avatar 2. The actress said that James Cameron was finally able to “crack” the challenge of making water look realistic in a virtual setting after working on it for years. After describing that effort as “powerful” and “compelling,” Saldaña continued:

I can get choked up just talking about it, because I was able to see just 20 minutes of the second installment right before the year ended, last year. I was speechless. I was moved to tears.

Although Zoe Saldaña has maintained a consistent film presence in recent years through playing Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and other movies like Star Trek Beyond, Missing Link and Vivo, like costars Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang (to name just a few), she’s also been keeping busy working on Avatar 2. The performance capture portion of filming started in fall 2017, and the live-action filming kicked off in spring 2019, with all aspects of the sequel’s principal photography being done simultaneously with Avatar 3’s. So even a lot about Avatar 2 is still being kept secret from the public, Saldaña remains involved with its creative process, and she’s clearly impressed by what she’s seen so far.

Zoe Saldaña also mentioned to Kevin McCarthy how putting the Avatar movies together means more to him than just providing cinematic entertainment to the masses; he has an emotional connection to these stories and his past film endeavors. In her words:

One thing nobody really knows about Jim [Cameron] is that Jim is also a big crier. So he really has a heart of gold and he’s a really firm man and he’s very focused, but he does have a very delicate heart, which is why he protects it so much. And I think he’s able to have an outlet through the stories he creates, and this story is going to be compelling. Avatar 2 is definitely a leap from Avatar 1, so you really have to brace yourself for it, but it’s going to be an adventure that you will not forget.

All we know so far about Avatar 2’s plot is that it will pick up approximately a decade after the events of the first movie, requiring Jake, Neytiri and their family (i.e. their three Na’vi children and the adopted human son nicknamed Spider) being forced to leave their home and explore other regions of Pandora when an old threat reemerges. Some of the other familiar faces returning include CCH Pounder, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Dileep Rao and Matt Gerald, while the lineup of newcomers include Kate Winslet, Edie Falco, Michelle Yeoh, Jermaine Clement and Vin Diesel. It is the first of four Avatar sequels we can expect between now and 2028. 

Avatar 2 is slated to hit theaters on December 16, the same day that Shazam! Fury of the Gods is now coming out. While we wait for more concrete details about what this sequel has in store, look around other corners of CinemaBlend for other kinds of news on upcoming movies.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.