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James Cameron And Stephen Lang Punched Great Ideas Out Of Each Other Every Day Before Shooting Avatar 2

As 2022 draws to a close, entertainment sites and movie lovers the world over have begun assembling their annual "best of the year" lists. As most of us are still awaiting the release of one of 2022's biggest and most highly anticipated films, it's worth wondering if those lists might soon need an addendum. That film is, of course, James Cameron's long-in-the-making "Avatar" sequel "Avatar: The Way of Water."

The new film arrives more than a decade after "Avatar" broke virtually every box office record out there, and expectations are equally high for "The Way of Water." In hopes of recapturing the original's lightning-in-a-bottle vibe, Cameron has reunited with the bulk of the original's cast and crew to tell a story that finds the Na'vi again going to battle with a nefarious human corporation that has eyes on exploiting the coveted natural resources. The film also finds Cameron returning to the realm of water-bound action after exploring such depths in "The Abyss" and "Titanic." 

Yes, "The Way of Water" also features the unexpected return of Stephen Lang's "Avatar" big bad Miles Quaritch. And according to both Lang and Cameron, the pair punched out some big ideas for the returning character by literally punching each other.  

Lang brought a lot of great ideas to the set

That tidbit was revealed during a recent "Avatar: The Way of Water" press conference attended by Looper which featured stars Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington, Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang, as well as James Cameron himself. The topic of Lang's and Weaver's franchise returns understandably came up in conversation as both of their characters died in the original "Avatar." And for Lang's part, the actor claims he was merely focused on executing Cameron's new vision for Miles Quaritch in his own return.

Cameron insisted that Lang was far more involved than that, stating, "He's being humble. When you see the film you see how critical he is, and how complex his character is." More specifically, Cameron claims some of Lang's ideas for Quaritch indeed worked their way into the film. "I just want to shout out that Stephen is also a screenwriter," Cameron added, "and he actually brought ideas that I was able to incorporate in the writing phase." That apparently includes a fascinating scene in which Lang's character encounters his old human remains.

It seems many of those ideas were spawned through the pair's on-set back and forth, with Lang noting, "I play an Alpha and he is an Alpha ... He was always beating up on me, and I'm beating up on him." Cameron jokingly added that it included daily sparring sessions in which the pair actually beat each other up. "Just about every day before we went on the Capture Volume [where motion capture is recorded]," Cameron noted, "we spent an hour kickboxing and punching the crap out of each other." And as they laughingly noted, that was a great way to alleviate any tension prior to heading to set.