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Avatar's Sam Worthington Says The Biggest Challenge Of Filming Underwater Was Displaying Emotions

With 14 years between the original "Avatar" and its sequel, "Avatar: The Way of Water," it's no surprise that both cast and crew were anxious to see how fans would respond. However, it didn't take too long to see that moviegoers were filling to fill the seats in theaters for "The Way of Water" and they did so in record-breaking form. Now, further details have emerged about how difficult the movie was to make — not only for director James Cameron but for the actors as well.

In addition to the technical challenges that the production faced, the performers also had to develop unique acting techniques as a large portion of the movie takes place underwater. But first, the person who needed to learn a new skill was Cameron, who decided to use known motion-capture technology in an unknown environment. "The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between the air and the water, which forms a moving mirror," Cameron explained to Collider. "Basically, whenever you add water to any problem, it just gets 10 times harder."

The actors were also pushed to their limits, with Zoe Saldana having to face her fear of water when she entered the giant tank, and Stephen Lang dealing with the stress of properly hitting his marks. As for the lead actor Sam Worthington, he was most concerned about the water hampering his performance.

It's hard to express emotions while holding your breath

The filming process for "Avatar: The Way of Water" saw the actors having to enter a giant water tank to film crucial scenes. Underwater work certainly isn't new for James Cameron, with 1997's "Titanic" also reliant on a similar tank. However, Kate Winslet — who stars in both "Titanic" and "The Way of Water" — spoke about how different her experiences were. In an interview with Variety, Winslet explained, "We did have to do some scuba work for that [Titanic]. But nothing to do with breath-holding, nothing at all."

Carrying much of the film's emotional weight is Sam Worthington who plays Jake, and in an interview with Geek Culture, the actor explained his own challenges of displaying emotion when filming underwater. Worthington described how difficult it was to show meaningful and believable connections between the characters when they were having to hold their breath for many minutes at a time. Despite undergoing hours of training in order to properly dive for long stretches, Worthington still had some issues to overcome. "We all had to learn the technique where we could hold our breath underwater for many minutes at a time, so we can do scenes underwater that were action orientated and very thrilling, but also that were very emotional," he explained. "And that's a very challenging thing, is to do emotion underwater, and to do it authentically and truthfully."

Of course, part of the actor's challenge was trying not to think about how dangerous the situation really was. "Also you're 30 feet deep," said Worthington. "So you need to not get scared and rattled by it." The result in the movie is undeniably spectacular, and with the cast and crew moving toward the third film, it will be interesting to see what unique challenges they may have to face.