Zoe Saldaña On ‘Avatar: The Way Of Water,’ Returning To Pandora: ‘This Is An Experience, An Escape And We All Deserve It!’

TheGrio.com, By Jared Alexander, Posted December 22nd 2022

TheGrio caught up with Saldana and co-star Sam Worthington in London during the film’s global premiere!

After 13 years, Pandora is back. The highly anticipated sequel to “Avatar,” the highest grossing movie of all time, is officially premiering this month. Actors Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington and others reunite with filmmaker James Cameron for what is expected to be yet another technical and emotional marvel in cinema.

TheGrio sat down with the cast and crew of the series in London ahead of its global premiere, breaking down the 13-year gap between the two films, what makes “Avatar: The Way of Water” stand out and why “Avatar” has resonated for so long around the world.

Like the 13 years the audience has lived since the first film took the world by storm, “Avatar: The Way of Water” takes place many years after the original film.

Jake Sully, who readers may remember as the human protagonist of the first film, is now a true Na’vi (the alien species and inhabitants of Pandora) after transferring his consciousness into his Avatar body at the climax of the first film. Sully now leads his tribe and remains partner to Neytiri (Saldaña), who is now the mother to their four children.

This change depicted in the second film is intentional, as are many of the topical themes in the film, Saldaña tells theGrio.

“Especially now more than ever, we’re just seeing such a high influx of people having to be displaced, because of war, because of inflation … our environment being affected the way that it is,” she explained. “I love that Jim (Cameron) takes these themes and he creates a story that is both going to compel us, move us deeply but also make us think a great deal without it being preachy either.”


The film, Worthington noted, is purposefully not a remake. “How Jim presented it to us was, ‘I don’t want to make a remake, I don’t want to make a carbon copy. I want to make an extension of this family, an extension of this planet and see where it can take us,’” he said.

Saldaña believes the sequel fulfills certain needs. “This is an experience and this is an escape and we all deserve it, especially everything that we’ve been through in the last couple of years,” she said. “So let’s not forget that films are just meant to entertain you and they’re meant to inspire you and that’s what ‘Avatar’ is doing.”

As the title suggests, the film exchanges the sweeping Pandoran forests from the first “Avatar” for gorgeous underwater sequences, all shot with the actors completely submerged for minutes. Of course, for the actors, a film with such achievements in technical and visual effects is as much a surprise to them when they see the final product as it is for the audience.

Reflecting on seeing it for the first time, Saldaña was astonished. “I found myself needing to breathe, she exclaimed. “But also consumed by a sense of wonder! If Jim took inspiration and created Pandora based off of Earth and all of his numerous expeditions to the deep ends of the ocean, then he has seen things that I will never have the guts to see for myself. But he is delivering it to me in this package and I’m just like, ‘This is such a beautiful experience.’”

Continued Saldaña, “I do find myself to be a very empathetic person but in watching ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’ I just feel like my heart wanted to burst. There was so much compassion not just towards other civilizations and other people, but towards animals and our environment and um, I hope people are moved from that sense as well.”

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is in theaters now.

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