Avatar Star Discusses Filming Without CGI in an Effects-Heavy Film
Avatar: The Way of Water star Jack Champion reveals how his lack of CGI scenes were filmed and details his co-star placeholders.
Avatar: The Way of Water is turning into a major box office hit. While the film was obviously going to deliver solid profits anyways, it only further proves that the franchise has enough fuel in the tank to keep things in motion for another decade.
In the first Avatar story, audiences were invited to the CGI playground of Pandora, where there was a need to bounce back and forth between two worlds and factions. In the sequel, the world of Pandora gets a lot more time in the spotlight, which also sets the tone for its impressive (and expensive) use of visual effects; however, one human (Spider, played by Jack Champion) became a noteworthy part of the narrative and deviated from the others filming processes due to a lack of CGI.
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During an interview with Variety, the young star (who also joined the Scream franchise for its sixth chapter) was asked about his uniquely filming process and how he balanced scenes with others, explaining, "We had this acting troupe that would basically re-act what the actors did just for my sake, but they'd wear this giant Na'vi puppet on their shoulders, so there'd be a torso here and then a head up here, and then they'd control the arms with little sticks — foam Na'vi that were actually 10-feet tall for us to look at."
In the same conversation, Champion details how sets were constructed for his role, adding, "Anytime you see me doing anything, they actually built whatever I'm running on — pieces of the ship deck, and they could maneuver however they want for the scene."
For any actor (especially a newer actor), it's clearly an odd situation to navigate with puppet scene partners. Still, considering the film's success and the experience that comes with being in a James Cameron franchise, it probably was worth the bizarre co-star arrangement, right?