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James Cameron Looked To Reviving Ophelia And His Own Daughters To Prep For Avatar 2's Kiri

Preview footage for director James Cameron's upcoming "Avatar" sequel, subtitled "The Way of Water," confirms that the two principal characters from the first "Avatar," Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), are back at the film's forefront. New to the franchise are a number of their children, whom they have raised in the years between the events of "Avatar" and "The Way of Water."

Sigourney Weaver, who portrays the scientist Grace Augustine in "Avatar," plays Jake and Neytiri's adopted teenage daughter Kiri in "The Way of Water." Of course, given that Weaver was around 70 years old during filming, this role presented her with a unique challenge. To find Kiri's voice for "The Way of Water," for example, Weaver spent time around teenagers at a performing arts high school in New York, simply observing how they spoke. Similarly, Weaver revealed that playing a teenager in "The Way of Water" involved utilizing an exercise from her own high school drama class. On top of learning to act significantly younger, Weaver trained with a Navy SEAL for a year in order to be able to hold her breath underwater for extended periods of time.

In addition to Weaver's insight into the extensive work it took to bring Kiri to life, Cameron likewise shared what inspired him as Kiri's original architect during promotion for "The Way of Water."

James Cameron thinks teenage girls should be able to relate to Kiri

At a press event for "Avatar: The Way of Water" that Looper attended, director James Cameron discussed Kiri's character, delving into just why he thinks she's significant. First, Cameron revealed that Kiri exists in-fiction because Grace Augustine's Na'vi avatar body was pregnant at the time of her character's death. Kiri, then, is Grace's avatar's biological daughter, hence why Sigourney Weaver plays Kiri in "The Way of Water."

"I think [Weaver] walked a beautiful line of classic teenage awkwardness and yet, as she comes into her power, as she comes into her strength, she's not a warrior," Cameron continued while discussing the character. He went on to explain that Kiri oftentimes acts differently than her adoptive mother Neytiri, who is indeed a warrior. Then, Cameron shared some what went into writing a believable teenage girl.

"To me, I thought we had the opportunity to speak to teenage girls in a way that might make sense to them. I was very well aware of this problem — I read 'Reviving Ophelia,' and I have daughters of my own," Cameron said. He then explained that he first approached writing a young woman in "Titanic," and has since gained firsthand experience through raising his own children. Finally, he emphasized that presenting different ways that women can be strong is one of the thematic focal points not just Kiri's storyline but those of the various women that appear throughout "The Way of Water."