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Bringing Sigourney Weaver Back In Avatar 2 Was A Unique Challenge

Sigourney Weaver may have played some iconic characters in the past, but it's not so easy to come back from the dead. The actor's most notable collaboration with director James Cameron was in "Aliens," the second film in the "Alien" movie saga. Ripley survived the events of that film, but Weaver's character from her next Cameron team-up would not be so lucky. The experienced actor portrays Dr. Grace Augustine in 2009's visually stunning "Avatar." As the mind behind the film's integral Avatar Program, Grace developed the technology to insert a person's consciousness into a Na'vi clone body and used this advancement to broker peace with the alien race.

But because of military investment in Pandora's treasured resources, her defense of their sovereignty eventually costs Grace her life. After a conflict with Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), Grace sustains a mortal wound that's too severe for even the great powers of Eywa to save. Grace dies as the Na'vi attempt to transport her soul into her Avatar's body. Seemingly, this would put a decisive end to Weaver's tenure in the "Avatar" franchise. Instead, James Cameron said "challenge accepted," and went on to craft a way to bring her back in the sequel.

The writers wanted Kiri's character to translate

The innovative mind behind high concepts such as the "Terminator" franchise and "Titanic" was not going to phone in his "Avatar" sequels. In fact, after James Cameron hired husband and wife team Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to pen "Avatar 2," the writers realized there was so much story that it would have to divide into two films. Though an exciting prospect, one of their concerns was Cameron's out-of-the-box idea for Sigourney Weaver to return. The writers explained to Variety that fears about making Kiri (Weaver) Grace's daughter had a lot to do with the story.

"We were all like, well, how is that going to work exactly?" Jaffa wondered. "Sigourney playing a teenager who is her offspring?" The issue at hand was how much time had passed between the first and second films. This writing team had the complex task of catching viewers up as well as introducing the idea that Kiri was the daughter of Grace's Avatar.

"And how do we explain it in the first act? That was a lot of exposition to get across, to get the audience to understand, to understand her struggles with her identity and her place in the world," Silver added. Not only did viewers have to get behind Grace getting pregnant through her Avatar but also the strange likelihood that it was an immaculate conception through Eywa. Though it is never substantiated, it seems like the most likely scenario.

Playing Kiri was not an issue for Sigourney Weaver

When James Cameron broached the subject of bringing Sigourney Weaver back for the sequel, his idea was relatively simple.

"I wanted to get the band back together," Cameron told USA Today. Given the success of their previous collaborations, who could argue with that? The two came together with the idea of Kiri, who has an obvious connection to nature on Pandora. Cameron had no reservations about whether Weaver could pull off a 14-year-old character.

Weaver recalled Cameron's confidence in her, quoting him as saying, "Nobody else knows this about you, but I know that you are 14 at heart, anyway. You're so mature, and yet you're always clowning around, so I have no doubt that you can do this." Weaver went on to observe students at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts to perfect the role, but it was her understanding of Kiri that was most significant. She and Cameron delved deep into the character and talked about Kiri's connection to Eywa and her struggle to understand where she comes from. Though it seems like a natural theory that Kiri is the result of Grace passing on to Ewya, the writers are staying tight-lipped about that ... at least for now. 

"I don't think we ever spoke about her specifically as a Na'vi Jesus," Rick Jaffa told Variety. "But it's a mystery," Amanda Silver finished. "We can't really talk about it."