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Why Tonowari In Avatar: The Way Of Water Looks So Familiar

It's a big wide alien world out there in "Avatar: The Way of Water," and finally, we're getting an all-new tour of it courtesy of James Cameron. The man responsible for two of the biggest blockbuster movies of all time is coming back to potentially get a third in his all-new sequel, and he's got an impressive cast along for the ride.

Besides Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana getting back in blue (along with Stephen Lang returning as Quaritch), "Avatar: The Way of Water" will also see some eerily familiar faces appearing under a pixelated coat of face paint. Sigourney Weaver, a character that kicked the bucket in the last film, appears here as Jake and Neytiri's adopted Na'vi daughter alongside Jack Champion as their adopted human son and Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, and Trinity Jo-Li Bliss as their biological offspring. There's also an all-new tribe that the former Earthling and his alien love must unite with to face off against a returning threat to Pandora.

Potentially standing by their side is Ronal (Kate Winslet), the mate of the tribal leader of the Metkayina, Tonowari, who could help lead the charge against those nasty human space invaders who just can't take a hint. You'll need someone who can carry a presence even under a layer of CGI for a stoic and immensely respected leader. Smart move for Mr. Cameron, then, to hire one man who has become a consistently welcome addition as a supporting star in just about any film he appears in.

Cliff Curtis was a king among Three Kings in David O'Russell's war drama

It's been a long journey to the shores of Pandora, but for every stop along the way, Cliff Curtis, who plays Tonowari in the new film, has delivered some incredible performances throughout his career, with one of his most notable stepping stones being in David O'Russell's war comedy-drama, "Three Kings."

The 1999 film sees three soldiers (played by George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube) near the end of the Persian Gulf War track down the whereabouts of some hidden gold only to join the local uprising in a last confrontation with the enemy. Curtis plays a local father and husband, Amir Abdulah, who escapes capture and is aided by the trio to flee to safety.

It was a notable breakthrough in Hollywood for Curtis, albeit one that had him at the start of playing supporting characters of different nationalities from his own Maori. However, Curtis ensures he veers away from stereotypes to instead focus on the character and the story they play a part in telling, explaining, "What connects us is the specifics of who we are, and then that relates universally on many levels" (via The Guardian).

He taught Ethan Hawke a lesson in modern classic Training Day

If audiences hadn't yet caught wind of Cliff Curtis' potential in "Three Kings," he made sure they would with Antoine Fuqua's critically acclaimed police thriller "Training Day." In what would home Denzel Washington's second Oscar-winning performance, Curtis appears in a single scene, which he steals from Ethan Hawke while terrifying the audience in the process. Left to the wolves by Alonzo (Washington), Jake (Ethan Hawke) finds himself at a poker table headed up by Curtis' Smiley. What follows is a terrifying trip to a bathtub, with Hoyt making a deal with a Los Angeles-based devil and Curtis chilling audiences to their bones along the way.

The scene certainly left its mark on the film, particularly for a star who isn't even in it. As Hawke revealed on "ReelBlend," Washington watched it being filmed and came to the conclusion that it's the movie's highlight. "I remember about that day, particularly, Denzel stopped by the set, and he watched for a little while, and he went, 'Damn! I'm not in the best scene in this movie,'" Hawke said. In hindsight, with tension as high as it was, maybe it was a good thing he wasn't.

Curtis helped bring the Sunshine in an underappreciated Danny Boyle classic

Cliff Curtis is among the crew who joined director Danny Boyle in his unsettling but impressive sci-fi endeavor, "Sunshine," which homes many stars in the making, including Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, and Michelle Yeoh. In a somewhat slightly over-the-top story, the film sees a team of astronauts on a dangerous mission to reignite the dying Sun in order to save an Earth that is getting chilly at this point.

Curtis plays Searle, the ship's doctor and psychological officer hoping to keep the crew in check. Speaking to Rotten Tomatoes about the role, Curtis explained that one of the biggest draws for him was working with Boyle. "Danny's an interesting guy to direct a movie like this. Usually something like this would be thrown into hyperdrive and you'd end up with the Michael Bays of the world. Which is cool, you know, hey, I'll work with anyone, and I really liked 'Transformers!'"

He made a lethal hit in Fear the Walking Dead

"Fear the Walking Dead," which began its early days with Cliff Curtis leading the charge, is still shuffling along as one of the first successful spin-offs of "The Walking Dead" franchise. As Travis Manawa, he is the head of a household sent into disarray during the beginning of the outbreak of the virus that sees people getting bitey. Curtis lasted long enough to make it to Season 3 before his character was killed off. It was a shocking turn for audiences, but given a sudden drastic time jump, it made sense for him to bite the bullet before biting others.

Curtis got the call from James Cameron to join his voyage back to Pandora for "Avatar: The Way of Water" during his time on "Fear the Walking Dead," so the actor could be forgiven for (quite literally) bailing out early from the show and making it to the shores of the eagerly anticipated sequel. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Dave Erickson said Curtis is "insanely generous as an actor but also as a person, and he's just very big-hearted and very kind, and he understood that it's ultimately about the larger structure of the show and how does it inform the story." In the end, though, Erickson didn't feel all that guilty. "And then he's doing a little movie for Jim Cameron now so I think he's doing okay."

Cliff Curtis was a friend of Doctor Sleep

Because Mike Flanagan was tasked with making what many believed to be an impossible extension to one of the greatest horrors ever made, Cliff Curtis had the relatively easy job of being an all-around decent guy. In the sequel to "The Shining," Ewan McGregor takes on the role of Dan Torrance, the young boy who escapes the Overlook Hotel and finds refuge and a road to recovery with the help of Billy Freeman (Curtis), the reliable ally who risks his life to help Danny on his journey and his battle against Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson).

It was a massive task for all involved given that the film both continues Stephen King's beloved story and daringly ventures into Stanley Kubrick's adaptation. While on set, Curtis explained to FilmIsNow, "Once in a while, you get this feeling: This is going to be a good one." Assured in the project he was a part of, Curtis added, "The core audience who wants this movie is going to really enjoy it, and that takes such a load off. It's such a relief."