Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Cliff Curtis Channeled His Inner Child To Nail His Avatar: The Way Of Water Performance

At long last, the sequel to 2009's "Avatar" hit the big screen in December 2022. "Avatar: The Way of Water" continues director James Cameron's story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), the Na'vi, and the Resources Development Administration. In doing so, it brings with it no shortage of breathtaking visuals and new additions to the "Avatar" lore for fans to learn about. Of course, it also introduces a host of new characters, notably those that belong to the aquatic Metkayina clan, led by franchise newcomer Cliff Curtis' Tonowari.

A well-respected and active leader, Tonowari is shown to clearly have his people's best interests at heart. However, taking in the Sullys following the RDA's occupation of their home does put his clan in danger for a time. Nevertheless, he holds no ill will toward them for the actions of those coming after them. In fact, he welcomes them to remain with the Metkayina despite their battles with the RDA remaining unresolved. To say that Curtis took this outline and brought it to life effectively with a strong performance would be an understatement.

Bearing in mind just how well Cliff Curtis did in the role of Tonowari for "The Way of Water," one might be surprised to learn that he channeled his inner child to truly nail the performance.

Curtis had to bring a childlike imagination to the set

It's no secret that "Avatar: The Way of Water" is a very visual effects-heavy movie. Between the numerous CGI characters and Volume-generated environments, it didn't leave much for actors to work with as they performed. Cliff Curtis told the Hollywood Reporter that the key to making the most of the situation and getting the best performance possible was to simply act while in the mindset of a child. "You have to fully commit, the way little kids fully commit when they're pretending to be in an imaginary land," he said, adding that using his imagination was all it took to make the material work.

This approach certainly paid off, given his standout performance as Tonowari, but all in all, it didn't take Curtis much effort at all to knock the performance out of the park. In truth, as he revealed to Geek Culture, he never felt like he had to work too hard on the "Way of Water" set. "I've never worked a day on this movie, [I was] just having the best time, going to have fun, and play in this world," Curtis shared. He notes that getting to spend so much time in the water was especially fun, concluding, "I just enjoyed every moment of it."

With multiple "Avatar" and "Avatar: The Way of Water" sequels on the way — thanks largely to the latter turning a sizable profit — could we see Cliff Curtis' Tonowari make a comeback? Only time will tell.