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Sigourney Weaver Explains How She Found Kiri's Voice In Avatar: The Way Of Water

"Avatar: The Way of Water" is shaping up to be the biggest sequel in years, and it's not just because of the 10-foot-tall protagonists. The long-gestating follow-up to 2009's "Avatar" will be a splashier, bolder affair by just about every metric, including the 3-plus hour runtime and a budget so high that the film will need to be one of the highest-grossing movies in history in order to break even (via Variety). It also promises to be a significant entry in James Cameron's oeuvre by reuniting the director with three of his most iconic female leads: Kate Winslet, Zoe Saldaña, and Sigourney Weaver.

Winslet is playing a new character, Ronal, queen of the Metkayina clan, and Saldaña is reprising her role as Neytiri, but Weaver's involvement is a little more complicated. The veteran actress starred in the first "Avatar" as exobiologist and noted Stanford alumna Dr. Grace Augustine, but her character was killed. Now she's returning to Pandora as Kiri, the 14-year-old adopted daughter of Neytiri and Jake. Here's how Weaver found the voice for her adolescent character.

Sigourney Weaver turned to high school students – and her own inner 14-year-old – for help

For all the physical training and advanced technology required for "Avatar: The Way of Water," one of the more simple yet daunting tasks was having Sigourney Weaver portray a teenager. "It was incredibly exciting to set loose your inner 14-year-old and to refine it, because being 14 is not all fun," the septuagenarian actress told The New York Times

In an appearance on "Good Morning America," Weaver detailed how she was able to credibly sound like a 14-year-old for "Avatar: The Way of Water." Her preparation involved visiting students at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts to hear them speak firsthand. "I actually went to some classes at LaGuardia for that age group," Weaver revealed. "Of course, there's a huge range of how kids go through puberty, and what surprised me was that in terms of the voices, you had voices that sounded very young and voices that sounded very adult."

For Weaver, arguably the most important step in creating Kiri was accessing her inner 14-year-old. "I had to ... kind of unearth my own 14-year-old, and then I just got out of her way." The actress would then check in with Cameron, as well as the film's dialect coach.

Other aspects of imitating a 14-year-old seemed to come naturally to Weaver, particularly when it came to the character's physical movements. "Sigourney just became younger," Cameron told Empire. "She looked younger, she had more energy, and she never quite stepped out of Kiri for our whole capture period. She had a glow on her face and lightness in her step and a fun spirit."

"Avatar: The Way of Water" opens December 16.