Sigourney Weaver

Avatar: The Way of Water: We Speak to Sigourney Weaver

Dept. of Chats and Confabs


Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron’s long awaited follow up to 2009’s Avatar, finally opens in cinemas in just under a week. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña reprise their iconic roles, playing Jake Sully and Neytiri, now loving parents doing everything they can to keep their family together. Sigourney Weaver plays their adopted teenage daughter Kiri, who’s the biological daughter of the avatar of Dr. Grace Augustine, the deceased character that Weaver played in the first film.

In this Goggler exclusive, we speak to Sigourney Weaver about the pressures that come with making a sequel to the most successful movie of all time and how shooting on empty soundstages has changed her process as an actor.

Sigourney Weaver

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: There is this cultural weight that’s associated with Avatar, with everything that it is, and everything that it’s achieved. And I know James has spoken about the pressure that’s on him for this movie to perform, but I was wondering what it was like for you as an actor? is it just another day on the job for you, or does that play on your mind as well? 

Sigourney Weaver: Speaking for myself, but I imagine that this is true of all of us, we’re very committed to what Avatar is doing and saying, and we’re very proud to be associated with something that has such high resolution, and is so immersive, and so seamless, especially this time out. But I certainly didn’t feel the same kind of stress because I’m not thinking about how much money it’s costing, or what it’s going to make. I’m just thinking about what I have to do, and about supporting the story, and our family, working together and working with the kids, and all these very immediate things.

UA: So, Sigourney, we haven’t actually seen the whole movie. We’ve only seen clips, and your performance really carries through. Making these things have changed so much over the years, and throughout your career, from Alien to Avatar, you’ve experienced every stage of making a science fiction movie in Hollywood. How has not being on location or on sets affected your process as an actor? Does it become more like theater? 

SW: You know, I felt it was like theater on the first Avatar. For Grace, I did live action, but I also had an avatar self. And what I love about it is how very freeing it is for the actor. Everything drops away. There’s no hair, makeup, sets, anything. There might be a few representational platforms, but it’s an empty stage, and you come out wearing your cameras and everything. When you’re working with the other actors, all of that falls away, and you’re just speaking, from your gut to theirs. 

Sigourney Weaver

SW: And so, in many ways, I feel like all the technology picks up more things. Maybe there’s more sensitivity. My character of Kiri is a very sensitive character, and quite a gentle character in many ways, and not always a happy character. And I’m amazed at how well it transferred. Because I was doing this stuff. But I wasn’t controlling it. I was just being. And so I noticed that the technology is really very sensitive. But our experience as actors was very similar to the first one, except that it was a little easier to get the dots off because you had to really scrub the last time. 

I think we had one additional camera on our helmets. But again, all of this falls away when you’re doing the scene. And so, it is like an early theater rehearsal where you’re jumping around in a black leotard or something. But it definitely felt like I was on stage. But I kind of just trusted that Jim would make sure that whatever was needed to be conveyed would be conveyed.

You can watch Sigourney Weaver in Avatar: The Way of Water when it opens in Malaysian cinemas on Thursday, December 15.

Alek Keshishian
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