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Cliff Curtis Boldly Claims That Avatar: The Way Of Water Is James Cameron's 'Masterpiece' - Exclusive

New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis has a foot in two filmmaking worlds. He has appeared in major Hollywood productions like "The Meg" and "Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw," while also working on movies in his native country like "The Dark Horse" and his recent effort, "Muru," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.

Those two worlds have come together in the past few years on a massive scale, as visionary director James Cameron has been in New Zealand creating not one, not two, but four new movies set in the universe of his 2009 epic, "Avatar." The first of the films, "Avatar: The Way of Water," arrives in theaters this December, while filming is nearly complete (via Variety) on the third entry in the series.

Curtis is signed to play a Na'vi named Tonowari — a member of the blue humanoid race that lives on the planet Pandora — for all four sequels, meaning that he's been doing the most extensive motion capture work of his career for months now.

While plot details are scarce, Cameron is using the most advanced technology available to bring the world of "Avatar" to life again, including inventing a process to shoot the first motion capture ever done underwater. Asked if the new "Avatar" films are going to change the filmmaking game the way the first one did, Curtis doesn't hesitate: "The evolution is game-changing as far as I'm concerned," he told Looper. "It's amazing."

Curtis says that Avatar is about family and rights

Cliff Curtis says that the "Avatar" sequels are director James Cameron's "opus masterpiece," drawing a parallel between them and his new action drama "Muru." "Thematically, what's interesting is they're both about family and they're both about Indigeneity and the response to an uncaring system [that] is not respecting the rights of the Indigenous people," Curtis said. "I'm very proud of that."

Of course, "Muru" is about a real-life incident that happened in a remote region of New Zealand, while the "Avatar" films take place in the far future on an entirely different planet. For Curtis, that meant vast amounts of time in a mo-cap suit, although he noted that his job doesn't change even if he's being digitally transformed into an alien.

"Good acting ... all comes down to finding something that rings true and honest," Curtis explained. "The more layers of technicality you put on it, the more crucial it is. You can't hide behind any of that stuff. If there's no core of something, an essence of seeking honesty and truth in what you're doing in your work, then all the tricks in the book aren't going to ... cover it up."

Nevertheless, Curtis noted that Cameron's team is pushing the boundaries of visual effects and filmmaking itself to their technological limit. "I'm going to try and paraphrase something that I heard [Cameron] and ['Avatar' producer] Jon Landau say," recalled Curtis. "It's something like this: 'We're not game-changing. We're evolving the game. This is the evolution of what we do.' I was like, 'Oh, wow' ... the evolution is game-changing as far as I'm concerned. It's amazing. It's incredible."

"Muru" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; "Avatar: The Way of Water" opens in theaters on December 16, 2022.