As production resumes on Avatar 2 in New Zealand, now seems as good a time as any to figure out who is actually appearing in the first of four planned sequels to 2009’s Avatar. Luckily, Collider’s own Christina Radish got the chance to chat with one of the sequel cast members, David Thewlis, while discussing his latest project, the National Geographic limited series Barkskins.
Among the most intriguing parts of Thewlis’ discussion with us about his work on the Avatar sequels was his adamant confirmation he is not set to appear in Avatar 2, despite reports across the internet and his inclusion on the IMDb cast list for the sequel.
“Well, nothing could be more different than Avatar. It completely doesn’t resemble anything that I’ve ever done. I should be clear, by the way, ‘cause I know that a magazine in Britain has got me in Avatar 2, but I’m not in Avatar 2. I’m going to be in Avatar 3, which was shot at the same time as Avatar 2, and the plan is that I will be in Avatar 4 and 5, as well. I just wanted to clear that up because somebody got that wrong recently.”
This tracks with the revelation that while Cameron spent years finishing the scripts for all four Avatar sequels, production right now is only focused on the first two sequels. If Avatar 2 succeeds, Cameron will then get the go-ahead to begin filming Avatar 4 and Avatar 5.
Thewlis went more more in-depth on his experience working with Avatar franchise director James Cameron, sharing with us:
“I loved working with Jim Cameron. I was a bit nervous ‘cause I’d heard stories that he’s quite a hard task master. I’d heard stories about the filming of Titanic, and that he could be quite difficult. He wasn’t difficult, at all. He was nothing but an absolute pleasure, and I had a great laugh with him. He’s something of a genius. He does everything. He’s an engineer, an artist, a filmmaker, and a writer. He’s just an extraordinary character. I felt very naive. I didn’t really know what I was doing because I’d never shot in that way before. It’s not really like making a film, at all. It doesn’t resemble it, in any way. Everything was completely new to me. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. There were lots of younger actors on set, who had to tell me what to do next because I felt like an old man. It was a great challenge, and I look forward to doing more of it. Jim Cameron was delightful. I admire him greatly.”
Thewlis also managed to delight us with his very candid and insightful explanation of his experience thus far with the Avatar filming process. Prepare yourselves for some truly great words on, as Thewlis describes it, the “bizarre” work of motion-capture.
“Yeah. It’s the complete opposite. People told me, ‘Oh, you’re going to love it. It’s like doing theater.’ It’s not like doing theater. It’s not like doing film, either. Motion capture is bizarre. You’re in a velcro suit all day, with a camera right in your face, all day, every day. If you sit down for too long, you have to be re-calibrated. And if you touch anyone else, you get stuck to them ‘cause you’re all made of velcro. It’s fairly uncomfortable. You don’t know what’s going on or where you are, and it’s baffling. But therefore, it’s novel and super interesting because you’re never bored. It’s quite a thing.”
Avatar 2 is currently scheduled for release in 2021, while Avatar 3 is scheduled to follow in 2023, Avatar 4 in 2025, and Avatar 5 in 2027. Get even more Avatar franchise updates here.
Reporting by Christina Radish.