Avatar 2 Director Shut Down Sigourney Weaver's ‘Insecure’ Behavior on Set

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Posted:
Avatar logo, Sigourney Weaver

Avatar 2 director James Cameron reunited with his longtime collaborator and friend Sigourney Weaver, and it seems that his reunion with the actress was highlighted by a crucial interaction on set. 

Avatar: The Way of the Water is set to expand the story of Jake Sully and Neytiri as the sequel introduces the pair's family. Alongside the two protagonists of the first film, Weaver will also make a comeback in a surprising way by portraying Jake and Neytiri's 14-year-old adopted Na'vi daughter, Kiri, after playing the role of a human scientist Dr. Grace Augustine in the first film.

It is unknown how Weaver's completely new character will fit into the plot of the sequel, but early footage suggests that Kiri will play a significant part in the proceedings. 

Ahead of the ultra-expensive sequel's release next month, new details about Sigourney Weaver's return and reunion with director James Cameron have emerged online. 

How James Cameron Advised Sigourney Weaver on Avatar 2

The recent issue of the D23 magazine provided noteworthy quotes about the behind-the-scenes development of Avatar: The Way of the Water

Sigourney Weaver, who reunited with Avatar's James Cameron for the sequel, offered high praise to the director, describing him as "one of the most extraordinary, original, and daring filmmakers ever." 

The Aliens star continued by sharing a hilarious exchange between her and Cameron (who is never afraid to speak his mind) on set, noting that the director told her that she can portray a 14-year-old in the sequel since she is so "immature:"

"It was a great privilege to be able to play this fantastic character who bridges these different worlds. It’s also nice reuniting with an old friend. He said, ‘I know you can do this, because you really are immature; you are a 14-year-old.’ I would say the same thing about him. He may be 16 years old. He teases me quite a bit, but I also trust him. He always knew what he needed and took the time to get us there. He listens to his actors. He really wants us to weave ourselves together with our characters."

Weaver then pointed out that she was in "agony about Kiri" most of the time, saying that she had no idea "what was actually coming across."

Sigourney Weaver as Kiri, Avatar 2
20th Century Studios

The 72-year-old actress then revealed a notable exchange between her Cameron on set that led the filmmaker to tell her to "stop being insecure" about not getting any feedback during filming:

“I was in agony about Kiri most of the time. I had no idea what was actually coming across. I couldn’t keep track of it. I didn’t want to be thinking about that, and Jim never said anything. One day I blurted out some whiny complaint about not getting any feedback, and Jim just turned and said in a serious voice, ‘You have to stop being insecure. It’s really inappropriate for who you are, how old you are, and what you’ve done in your career.’ So, that shut me up. I heard him loud and clear.” 

Zoe Saldaña, who portrays Neytiri in the movie, shared her excitement at the prospect of working with Weaver "more closely" in the sequel: 

“Working more closely with Sigourney was one of the things I was most looking forward to. I love her work. She’s one of my top three idols. Jim gave her this amazing turnaround that she could really sink her teeth into, to play and explore. Watching her approach her character was like a master class every single day.” 

The MCU actress also explained that it "kept getting more complex" the more she filmed scenes with Weaver, noting that the veteran star has a "method approach" during production:

“It just kept getting more complex. We didn’t clash, but we were definitely in character. She has a method approach for how she gets into character and stays in character, and there were times when I really felt like I was the mother of a teenage daughter. Jim would look at me and give me that look that said, ’I have teenage daughters. Trust me. You are exactly in the zone.’”

Circling back to Kiri, Weaver teased how the teenage Na'vi is portrayed in the sequel, pointing out that she's completely different from Neytiri and Jake: 

“She’s not a warrior. She doesn’t take up arms. So, in that sense, she’s like neither Neytiri nor Jake. Neytiri is beautiful, regal, composed. I think Kiri feels very awkward, clumsy, inept disciplined, and I think Kiri wishes she could be more like Neytiri. Life would be easier. if she could be more like anyone, she’d like to be like Spider.” 

The Spider that Weaver mentioned in her comment is referring to Jack Champion's character who is a human orphan that has a deep emotional relationship with the Na'vi culture. 

Kiri, Jake Sully, Avatar 2
20th Century Studios

Weaver also revealed that Kiri "feels more comfortable" with Jake and actually talks to him more than Neytiri due to his relationship with Grace (the character that Weaver portrayed in the first movie). 

The Avatar actress then teased the dynamic of the Sully siblings in the sequel and Kiri's relationship with them:

“Kiri loves her siblings, but they’re at each other a lot. The scenes are inspired by Jim’s kids. Kiri tries to take care of Tuk, who everybody loves; she’s a great little sister but she always wants to tag along. Kiri is a little jealous of Lo’ak, because he’s very close to Spider. She wants Spider all to herself.” 

Trinity Bliss, who plays Tuktirey in the sequel, talked about Lo'ak's role in the fil,, noting that he is the "cooler older brother" who is protective of her character while also talking about Neteyam as the oldest of the bunch:

“[Lo'ak] often does not bring Tuk when he adventures into the world, because he is protective of her. Tuk has a lot of respect for Neteyam as he is the big brother who sometimes feels like a dad. Neteyam protects her and all of the other siblings and doesn’t throw her under the bus as much as Lo’ak does. Tuk is very fond of her older sister, Kiri, and really looks up to her, Everything Kiri says and does is amazing to her.”

Why James Cameron's Honest Feedback Helps Elevate the Sequel 

James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver have a longstanding working relationship dating back to the first Aliens movie in 1986. While the honest exchange about insecurity between the pair on the set of Avatar 2 might be surprising for some, it just further establishes the mutual respect that Weaver and Cameron have for each other. 

Weaver feeling insecure on the set of Avatar: The Way of the Water is understandable, considering that she is portraying a 14-year-old teenage kid. However, it seems that Cameron's honest comment was all Weaver needed to hear to note the fact that the director trusts her with her portrayal of Kiri. 

The exact plot details are still being kept under wraps, but Avatar 2's trailer teased another tragic story, thus spelling bad news for Jake and Neytiri’s family. It would be shocking if Cameron decides to kill off Kiri in the sequel, especially after bringing back Weaver as the Sully family's adopted daughter. 

Still, the possibilities are endless for Kiri in The Way of the Water. Promotional footage suggests that the teenage Na'vi appears to be one of the lead characters in the sequel, meaning that her role will likely be fleshed out before her potential death. 

Avatar: The Way of the Water is set to premiere in theaters on Friday, December 16.

- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.