Eyebrows were raised last month when it was revealed that the 72-year-old Sigourney Weaver will play an 11-year-old girl in Avatar: The Way of Water. James Cameron’s highly anticipated sequel to the all-time box office king is set to land later this year, bringing back Jake Sully and Neytiri for a technically dazzling aquatic adventure.
Weaver played Dr. Grace Augustine in 2009’s Avatar, with the final moments of the film seeing her dying at the foot of the Tree of Souls. This appeared to upload her memories into the ‘organic computer’ of Pandora and teach the Na’vi how humanity destroyed Earth’s ecosystem.
Now she’s back as Kiri, the adopted daughter of Jake and Neytiri, and during a recent sit-down with Interview magazine she called the role “the biggest stretch” of her career:
“I would say that it’s the biggest stretch I get to play in every possible way. I think if Jim Cameron didn’t know me really well, he wouldn’t have cast me as something as goofy as this. I had to work in a completely different way to play this character, a very physical way.”
Weaver’s comments echo what Cameron told Empire magazine in July:
“She looked younger, she had more energy, and she never quite stepped out of Kiri for our whole capture period. She had a glow on her face and lightness in her step and a fun spirit.”
Casting a 72-year-old to play an 11-year-old is a headscratcher, but Weaver will apparently draw on her own adolescence for the character and try to play up her awkwardness. She’s also been put through intensive physical training for the role, which included rigorous parkour and freediving lessons, meaning she can now hold her breath for an impressive six-and-a-half minutes.
Hopefully we’ll get another trailer showing off the characters and story soon so we can get a good look at Weaver as Kiri, though if you’re skeptical that this casting can work just remember that James Cameron usually knows what he’s doing. We can’t wait to see how it works out.
Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters on December 16, 2022.