Sigourney Weaver has played many impressive and memorable characters over the years, but the award-winning actress’s turn as Dr. Grace Augustine in the 2009 James Cameron movie Avatar was definitely a highlight — and when (spoiler alert) Weaver’s character died in the first movie, most fans of Pandora would not have expected to see the American actress returning. But apparently, Sigourney Weaver is not just back for Avatar: The Way of Water: the actress is actually playing a brand-new character who is a teenager, even though she is 72!
According to an interview with Empire, Sigourney Weaver is playing Kiri, the adopted daughter of Avatar protagonists Jake Sully (a human played by Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (a female Na’vi played by Zoe Saldana).
“As an acting challenge, it’s big,” James Cameron said when talking about the unexpected role that Sigourney was playing. “We’re gonna have a 60-something actor playing a character [many years younger than] her actual biological age. Sig thought it was all kinds of fun,” he added. Apparently, playing a teenage Na’vi girl actually was quite refreshing for Weaver!
The actress met with many teenage girls for inspiration, and James Cameron noticed that “Sigourney just became younger” during filming. “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,” he recalled.
“I think we all pretty much remember what we were feeling as adolescents,” Sigourney herself told Empire. “I certainly do. I was 5’ 10” or 5’ 11” when I was 11. I felt strongly that Kiri would feel awkward a lot of the time. She’s searching for who she is. I was thrilled to be given that challenge by Jim.”
“I’m playing a character I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams,” she added enthusiastically.
The Aliens actress is being joined by Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington again for Avatar: The Way of Water, but another renowned actress is also joining in: Kate Winslet, who plays one of the leaders of a nautical clan of Na’vi and who also spent a lot of time training to hold her breath underwater in order to film seven-minute scenes without any pauses!