Avatar: The Way Of Water’s Sigourney Weaver Reveals The Training She Did To Play Her New Na’vi Character In The Sequel

Sigourney Weaver in Avatar 2
(Image credit: Disney)

James Cameron is a filmmaker known for spectacle, especially in his record-breaking 2009 blockbuster Avatar. Fans have waited over a decade to finally return to Pandora thanks to the movie’s delays, although excitement has been buoyed thanks to attractions at Disney theme parks. The highly anticipated sequel The Way of Water is heading to theaters this holiday season, and Sigourney Weaver recently revealed the training she did to play her new Na’vi character in the movie.

Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron clearly have a great working relationship, which was on full display throughout the first Avatar movie. But after her character Dr. Grace Augustine perished in the first film, fans were curious how the Alien icon would factor into the sequel’s story. She’s actually playing Jake and Neytiri's young Na’vi daughter Kiri, which will come to life thanks to motion capture and extensive visual effects. Weaver recently spoke to Interview Magazine about The Way of Water, where she explained the skills she had to pick up while filming the blockbuster. In her words,

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.

Well, there you have it. While Sigourney Weaver’s appearance will be greatly changed thanks to Avatar: The Way of Water’s post-production process, she still had to put all of her body into bringing Kiri to life. That includes picking things up like parkour and freediving. As we know, there was a great deal of underwater work done while the cast was filming footage for the Avatar sequels. 

Sigourney Weaver’s comments to Interview show just how much work goes into creating a movie like Avatar: The Way of Water. While dealing with motion capture suits and technology is already challenging enough, she and co-stars like Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington, and newcomer Kate Winslet also did some incredibly physical work to make the project a reality.

There has been a ton of hype around how much underwater work the cast of Avatar 2 ultimately participated in. Kate Winslet broke a world record in the process, with teasy images of her filming at the bottom of a pool quickly going viral as a result. Sigourney Weaver opened up about learning free diving, saying:

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.

That certainly sounds intense. While actors have been known to pick up new skills for genres like the superhero movies or musicals, the Avatar cast had to really train their body and minds in order to hold their breath for so long. We’ll have to see how thrilling this makes the upcoming sequels’ action sequences.

Luckily for the many folks out there who saw and loved the first Avatar, the sequel The Way of Water is nearly here. Following years of delays, the first of many sequels will arrive in time for Christmas this year. And given Shazam 2’s recent delay, there should be even less competition for James Cameron's latest.

Avatar: The Way of Water will hit theaters on December 16th. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.