Avatar 2: Sigourney Weaver Talks Intense Physical Underwater Prep

Sigourney Weaver has had a long-running working relationship with director James Cameron since Aliens (1986). She has since returned for his Avatar films, starting with the 2009 original as Dr. Grace Augustine, a researcher originally brought in to infiltrate and study the Na'vi before joining their fight as one of their own to preserve their way of life. With Cameron announcing the second film's in the can with the third achieving 95 percent completion, the actress spoke to The New York Times (via Indiewire) about the intense physical training she went through to reprise her role.

LOS ANGELES - OCT 14: Sigourney Weaver at the 2016 American Cinematheque Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 14, 2016 in Beverly Hills, CA (Image: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com)
LOS ANGELES – OCT 14: Sigourney Weaver at the 2016 American Cinematheque Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 14, 2016, in Beverly Hills, CA (Image: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com)

Weaver's Physical Challenges in Avatar Sequels

Weaver said she spent the better part of her prep work deep-sea diving in Key West, Florida, and Hawaii, where she would "recline on the ocean floor while manta rays glided over her." She was also able to train with "elite military divers" to hold her breath for more than six minutes after her initial inhalation of supplemental oxygen. The longer the cast could hold their breath, the more takes Cameron could film in a single period underwater. "My hope is that what I receive from the universe is even more outrageous than anything I can think of," Weaver said. "I don't really say to myself, 'Well, you can't do this.' Or, 'You can't do that.' Let me at it! And we'll see." When the three-time Oscar-nominated actress heard about the training, she took the regiment in stride. "I had some concerns," Weaver continued. "But that's what the training was for. And I really wanted to do it. I didn't want anyone to think, 'Oh, she's old, she can't do this.'"

Avatar 2: Sigourney Weaver Talks Intense Physical Underwater Prep
Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine in Avatar (2009). Image courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Other requirements in the training the Times detailed, "Weaver and other members of the cast had to learn not to squint or clamp their mouths shut — both natural reactions when you're submerged — during take after take in a gigantic water tank. She had weights around her waist and professional divers who sped her back to the surface for air at brief, regular intervals." Despite the fate of her character in the 2009 film, Weaver returned for multiple sequels. Joining Weaver are stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, and CCH Pounder. Lang's character of Colonel Miles Quaritch, who is the 2009's film primary antagonist, also met a grisly end but returned somehow. At the time of release, Avatar set box office records grossing $2.790 billion globally, which stood until 2019's Avengers: Endgame, currently sitting at $2.797 billion. Joining Cameron to write Avatar 2 is Josh Friedman and is expected to release on December 16, 2022, for 20th Century Studios. The third film will arrive in 2024.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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