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James Cameron Had To Teach Zoe Saldaña To Run Properly For Avatar

James Cameron runs a tight ship, even if he has a seeming obsession with sinking them on camera. The visionary behind the resurgent "Avatar" universe has often been on the receiving end of claims from his casts and crews — ranging from lighthearted anecdotes to serious frustrations — alleging that he's prone to explosive onset outbursts when things don't go according to his plan. In a recent Masterclass project, Cameron even referred to himself, with some seeming self-awareness and a tinge of regret, as a "tin-pot dictator" (via The Independent). 

It seems that Cameron has restrained his temper significantly in recent years, though he still refuses to pull his punches with collaborators. On the set of "Avatar: The Way of Water," he supposedly called Sigourney Weaver's behavior "inappropriate" after she expressed feeling insecure about her portrayal of Kiri. Weaver is far from the only "Avatar" actor to receive tough love from Cameron, however — Neytiri actor Zoe Saldaña recently shared that the director had been particularly upset by a bizarrely specific aspect of her performance in the first film.

She needed to be taught how to run

Apparently, on the set of the first "Avatar" film, James Cameron was shocked by the way Zoe Saldaña ran — so much so that he felt he needed to take action. Saldaña herself recounted an exchange she had with the director for Elle UK. Presumably following a take of a scene, she remembered Cameron remarking, "'What is that?'" after seeing her run as Neytiri.  

"He takes off his headphones like, 'What is that?'" she recalled. "I'm like, 'I was running.' He goes, 'That's not running! You've gotta learn how to run!'" She went on to say that Cameron urged her to "get on a treadmill or something" so that she could get more comfortable running. It isn't entirely clear what the director's issue was with her physicality, but she seems to tie it to her lack of experience due to her training as a dancer. "I didn't know how to run because I was just busy dancing ballet and dancers don't run because anything that jeopardizes your knees or your ankles, you just don't do."