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Avatar Fans Are Divided Over Sigourney Weaver's Performance As Kiri In The Way Of Water

In creating the technicolor, eye-popping world of Pandora, James Cameron looked to a different sort of space epic. "If you look at how George Lucas did it in the universe that he created, which is astonishing, he chose to make each different biome, each different culture, have their own planet around the galaxy," Cameron said in a conversation with Variety. "And I thought, 'Well, that's not the way Earth works.' Earth has the Arctic, the Antarctic, the rainforest, the desert and the mountains. All different biomes...I can spend as many films as I want to make just on Pandora, just by going to different places."

Cameron has begun to peel back the curtain on Pandora's cultural and biospheric vastness in "Avatar: The Way of Water." With so much newness to explore, it stands to reason that "Avatar: The Way of Water" is full of unanswered questions. What is the fate of the forest-dwelling Omaticaya people? What will happen to the tulkun? Why did James Cameron cast a septuagenarian to play a 14-year-old? The last question has been a particular point of contention for "Avatar" fans.

Some fans found Sigourney Weaver's performance distracting

Sigourney Weaver made her first trip to Pandora in 2009's "Avatar," in which she played exobiologist Dr. Grace Augustine. Even though the character was killed, Weaver nabbed an unlikely role in "Avatar: The Way of Water" as Kiri, the 14-year-old adopted daughter of Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña).

Kiri is one of the most vital new characters in the "Avatar" universe; the daughter of Dr. Augustine, Kiri boasts a unique connection to the environment and Eywa. Still, for some fans, casting a now-73-year-old actress as a teenager was a bridge too far. "It really didn't work at all," wrote @chadwickb082820 on Twitter. "The movie is great but it was so jarring." Some thought that the unconventional casting choice was a missed opportunity to lean into the themes of reincarnation. "Sigourney Weaver playing Kiri was an interesting idea and could lead to some solid world building with reincarnation and the world tree and the like," posited Redditor u/PeterCastiglione, "but the performance...IDK...I could really see this was an adult trying to play a child."

Others still felt that Weaver's performance felt less naturally youthful when sharing scenes with her younger cast mates — an unfortunate "how do you do, fellow kids" juxtaposition.

Other fans loved the unconventional casting choice

While teenage Sigourney Weaver took some viewers out of the action, others were deeply impressed by the actresses' commitment to the role. Redditor u/Prof-Ponderosa even asked, "⁠Is it wrong for me to want to see more young Sigourney Weaver movies? She was awesome and killed it here." One fan, @PetuniaKnows, viewed Cameron's casting choice as a win for older actors, especially women, who are frequently overlooked. "I honestly love James Cameron for this," they wrote. "We have accepted way too much ageism in Hollywood."

Weaver's performance also won over some critics. "Weaver's performance actually proves to be one of the film's high points," wrote Liz Shannon Miller for Consequence. "It's one of those 'damn, what can't she do?' moments, watching her embody the character — while there are plot-related reasons for her to play Kiri, why not Sigourney Weaver play anybody and anything she likes?"

Ultimately, Weaver's greatest champion is Cameron himself. "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."