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James Cameron Went To Bizarre Lengths To Prepare His Cast For The Avatar Sequels

Good things take time, and that saying rings true for James Cameron's 2009 science-fiction epic "Avatar." The film's development began in 1994, years before the technology to make it possible even existed (via ABC News). The road to creating what would go on to become one of the world's biggest box office hits was a long, painstaking one.

The film follows a conflict between humans attempting to reverse decades of climate change damage on Earth and the nature-worshipping Na'vi people, who live on the planet Pandora. As the humans make advances to harvest a mineral native to the Na'vi's homeworld, a battle breaks out.

The sprawling universes within "Avatar" and its iconic blue alien-like Na'vi characters require special technology to bring to life, which has proven to be no small feat. Cameron recently spoke with fellow director Denis Villeneuve ("Dune") over Zoom for Variety, where they delved into the long-awaited "Avatar" sequels, and how Cameron prepared his cast for shooting.

The Avatar cast took an immersive field trip

During their Variety chat, Denis Villeneuve asked James Cameron how the "Avatar" actors managed to flow naturally as the Na'vi characters when they couldn't see what was happening around them because of the series' heavy reliance on motion capture technology.

Cameron explained that he took the "Avatar" series cast on what he refers to as "a sense-memory odyssey" so they had an idea of what audiences would be seeing. He said that they set up camp in a rainforest and lived there for several days "[cooking] in underground fire pits" and "[drinking] water from the leaves."

Cameron revealed, "I said, 'All right, we're going to walk up a trail and I want you to observe as much as you can about how you place your feet, how you place your hands when you go up a steep section. You're going to have to remember it, what it felt like, what it smelled like, and you're going to have to bring it back into a relatively sterile environment.'" 

"Avatar 2" is slated for release in December 2022.