Sometimes, in the life of an actor, those big jobs come around that look like sure things. That’s especially true when a massive project like writer/director James Cameron’s Avatar comes along, and there’s a plum role ready for a friend and collaborator like actor Michael Biehn.
However, that big ticket opportunity doesn’t always pan out, as Michael Biehn knows from the eventual results that Hollywood history would send his way. As he described in a recent interview, he’d sat with those expectations for quite a while, only to endure the following result:
For nine months, I thought I was going to be playing the part Stephen Lang played in Avatar, and I ended up not getting it.
While Stephen Lang was an absolutely perfect fit for the role of Avatar’s brutal antagonist, RDA Col. Miles Quaritch, there’s a part of us that can’t help but imagine what that role would have been like with Michael Biehn playing it out. It’s a scenario that’ll have to stay in the hypothetical arena though, as Stephen Lang will be returning to that role, somehow, in the Avatar sequels.
The official reason that James Cameron gave for this casting decision was that he didn’t want to draw a comparison between Avatar and Aliens, as he’d already cast Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine. However, looking back on the history of Cameron’s films with Michael Biehn, the director may have also wanted to avoid audiences thinking that he’d merely re-skinned the actor’s villain from The Abyss and transplanted him into a futuristic film.
Being an actor of reason and just an all-around good guy, Michael Biehn continued to elaborate on his reaction to the experience in the following remark given in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on his overall career:
I understood. I'd been disappointed too many times to be depressed for more than 24 hours.
Now while James Cameron himself admits that casting Weaver in Avatar did play a part in preventing Michael Biehn from being included in the film, there wasn’t actually a particular role that was written into the film that he would have been considered for.
And yet, with four sequels being developed and filmed for the former highest grossing film in the world, the suggestion of bringing Michael Biehn into one of the later films is something he isn’t adverse to. James Cameron mentioned this when reached out for comment on this profile piece on the actor, as he’d made this rather promising statement:
It’s a good idea to put him into a performance capture character in Avatar 4 or 5, I’ll have to think about that. But no promises. In any case, I do look forward to working with him again.
Obviously, there can’t be any promises when it comes to Avatar 4 and 5, because those films are still so nebulous at this point. Avatar 2 is obviously the priority, as it’s being filmed and crafted as we speak. But at this point, after hearing Michael Biehn’s story about how Avatar missed him like a Na’vi arrow at an RDA bulldozer, it would feel like an ultimate sadness if the man didn’t get to play in James Cameron’s gigantic, world building playground.
Avatar 2 is supposed to be in theaters on December 17, 2021, as part of a cinematic universe that’s scheduled up until 2027. Knowing that film’s pedigree with timeliness though, it doesn’t seem like that’s a promise at this point either. Which means you may want to distract yourself with the list of film’s heading your way in the near future, by checking out the 2019 release schedule for what’s headed your way in a much closer proximity.