Avatar’s Zoe Saldaña On How It Feels That The Way Of Water Is Finally On Its Way

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

After 13 years, the wait for Avatar 2 is almost over, as the officially-titled The Way of Water is scheduled for December! Before you know it, you will be back in a movie theater experiencing your favorite Na'vi characters in their blue and 3D beauty. Not only have we been waiting so long for the Best Picture-nominated film sequel, but so has Zoe Saldaña. Imagine finishing the filming of a movie only to have to wait two years for audiences to see the movie magic you brought onto the screen. Avatar’s Zoe Saldaña has shared how she feels about Avatar: The Way of Water finally coming to theaters this year.

For Disney’s panel at the 2022 CinemaCon, lucky attendees saw the first footage from Avatar: The Way of Water, with Zoe Saldaña there to promote the film and win the Star of the Year award. The Guardians of the Galaxy actress will be reprising her role as Neytiri, the fan-favorite native Na’vi. Saldaña also spoke to Entertainment Weekly about audiences finally being able to see her upcoming blockbuster, saying:

It's exciting; nerve-wracking. Humbling as well, you know — the wait is finally over. And we get to share something that we love so much with so many people that we know love it, too.

When the Avatar: The Way of Water footage was first shown to Zoe Saldaña, she couldn’t help but get emotional over it. This sequel is 13 years in the making, after all. She choked up in tears at being able to see how director extraordinaire James Cameron was able to “crack” the challenge of creating underwater scene in Avatar 2 in a virtual setting. Considering James Cameron has been no stranger to pushing the boundaries of technology, I’m really curious to see what else the Titanic director has in store for us. Am I getting ahead of myself by asking James Cameron to go through with a 3D film without the 3D glasses

The Star Trek actress also told EW about the process of being Neytiri compared to playing the green-skinned former assassin Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. To play Gamora, she would have to wake up at 3 in the morning for the prosthetic process. For Neytiri, on the other hand, Saldaña had to train with movement coaches, travel to the jungle and even see what it’s like to make your own food with the elements around you. Then she took everything she learned to set under motion-capture magic. With the help of reference photos and the direction of James Cameron, Zoe Saldaña felt confident that the journey she took to make the world of Pandora feel alive to her was not a difficult one. 

As far as what kind of role Neytiri is expected to have in Avatar: The Way of Water, we should expect to see this brave warrior as a mother. There will be a really interesting dynamic between Jake, Neytiri and the adopted human son they took in. Because their adopted son, Miles, was born on the military base that was determined to overtake Pandora and killed Neytiri’s father in the first film, there’s bound to be some tension between Jake and Neytiri about the person Miles will become. Producer Jon Landau compared this situation to a “modern mixed-race couple” where their son struggles to decide what world he belongs in. Despite any rising tensions that may occur, Landau promised that the sequel to the box-office hit will have a focus on family. 

Even though Avatar: The Way of Water will not be hitting theaters until December 16th, you can still watch the first Avatar film on your Disney+ subscription, as well as in theaters re-released and remastered on September 23rd.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

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