James Cameron had the Avatar: The way of the water cast undergo rigorous underwater training to hold their breath for several minutes. Many of the original cast from 2009 Avatar is back for the upcoming sequel subtitled The way of the water, including Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Giovanni Ribisi, Dileep Rao and Matt Gerald. Newcomers include Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Cowell and Vin Diesel.
Since some of the Avatar As the sequel’s scenes are set in the oceans of Pandora, Cameron and his team developed new technology to film underwater achievements, leading to several production delays as they worked towards achieving this unprecedented feat. Shooting these underwater scenes also required the actors to hold their breath for extended periods of time. Winslet, playing a free diver in Avatar: The way of the waterheld her breath underwater for a record-breaking amount of time, beating the figure of Tom Cruise for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. Weaver, who now plays Jake and Neytiri’s adopted teenage daughter, also spent an impressive time free diving and holding her breath.
cameron and the Avatar: The way of the water cast now chat with The New York Times to discuss filming the sequel’s underwater scenes and reveal some more details about the rigorous breathing training they’ve undergone. Each actor also shares their own personal bests, including Winslet, who held her breath for more than seven minutes. Weaver did six and a half, while Saldaña got close to five minutes. Read what they say below:
Cameron: You want it to look like the people are underwater, so they have to be underwater. It’s not a giant leap – if you were to do a western, you’d learn to ride a horse. I knew Sam was a surfer, but Sig and Zoe and the others weren’t exactly ocean oriented people. So I was very specific about what would be needed, and we have the world’s best apnea specialists to talk them through.
Saldaña: The first step is you pretend until you make it: you say to your boss, “Yeah, absolutely, I’m so excited,” and then it’s complete horror, like, “What am I going to do?” At best, you’ll leave with a brand new predisposition, but I was afraid. I come from generations of islanders, and the only thing people don’t know about island life is that if you come from islands that have been colonized, a large percentage of the people can’t swim. Folklore teaches you to love the ocean as if it were a goddess, but you are afraid of it.
Cameron: Kate is a demon of preparation, so she took to the free diving as something she could build her character around. Kate’s character is one who grew up underwater as an ocean-adapted Na’vi – they are so physically different from the forest Na’vi that we would almost classify them as a subspecies. So she had to be perfectly calm underwater, and it turned out she was a natural.
Weaver: [My teacher] said to get rid of your mammalian instinct to go, “Oh my god, my face is in the water.” So you spend a few minutes just getting your body back into that element and letting those country man feelings dissolve.
Avatar 2 Stars Reveal Underwater Breath-Keeping Training Details
During the interview, Cameron and the Avatar: The way of the water cast reveal some new details about the extensive underwater training, including working with the “the world’s best apnea specialists.“While Worthington had some experience on the water as a surfer, Saldaña and Weaver were not”especially ocean oriented people’ says Cameron, making their personal record time even more impressive. This ties in with how Cameron often strives to make his films as realistic as possible, even when it comes to fantastical worlds and characters.
Cameron and his team have put years of work into Avatar: The way of the water so the sequel can do motion-capture underwater, and the cast made just as much preparation to hold their breath and make these scenes possible. So this beautiful underwater action has been the main proponent of Avatar 2‘s marketing campaign. Seeing it really come to life will probably spark even more excitement. Hopefully all the hard work of the cast and crew will pay off, and the film’s underwater scenes will be as stunning as Avatar: The way of the water cinema releases.
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Source: The New York Times