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Sigourney Weaver Thinks ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Is More Like the Disney World Ride: ‘There’s No Holding Back’

The actress also explains how she approached playing a 14-year-old girl in the film

In “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Sigourney Weaver returns. But probably not in the way you expect.

When last we left Weaver, her character Dr. Grace Augustine, had suffered a fatal gunshot wound and, while they attempted to revive her, she ultimately died. When “Avatar: The Way of Water” opens, we realize that her Avatar (still in its tank) was pregnant. The father is unknown. But the young girl, Kiri (also played by Weaver) is quickly adopted into Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña)’s family. Together, Kiri and the rest of the Sully family do battle against the evil RDA and go into hiding with the planet’s reef people, where Kiri really comes into her own. It’s an amazing character, made even more amazing by the fact that Weaver is doing the performance capture for this teenage girl herself.

TheWrap sat down with Weaver and talked about how she created this new character, getting in touch with her inner teenager and how “Avatar: The Way of Water” is more like the Disney World attractions than a mere movie.

Have you been to the Walt Disney World land?

I have. I feel the movie is like the ride in Disney World. You’re immediately part of that world. There’s no holding back. It’s like an immediate portal and you’re with this family and you’re a member of the family and you go through all their ups and downs and you root for them. It felt more like an experience than a movie. You’re not sitting back watching it, you are in it.

Where did this character come from? It sounds like you and James cooked her up together.

Yeah. I mean, he had this idea about this girl and we kind of just talked about what else might be going on for her. But there were many things he came up with that I didn’t know anything about, like her best friend being this human boy and things like that. First of all, I was very grateful to be entrusted with Kiri, because she’s such a special character, but I knew that I didn’t want to do… I didn’t want to imitate a 14-year-old. I wanted to unearth my 14-year-old, who also had a complex time at that age, and try to bring her out and use some of the angst that I remember and the joy and the fun and the clowning and this and that. Bring all those to Kiri in a very authentic way.

Cameron has said that you were very instrumental in sort of designing the character. Can you talk about that? What did you see in initial concepts that you wanted to alter?

I love this idea of a girl who feels more comfortable in the forest, for one thing because she’s wrenched from the forest. I think you learn, and she learns, that she has a very easy access to the natural world. When she’s underwater it’s very easily and quickly her element. She’s able to make friends with the creatures and call on them to for help very easily. Who is this strange girl? Who is her father? All these mysteries about Kiri and she clearly is special, but she doesn’t really enjoy being special. It freaks her out. I think we’re still finding out who Kiri is, as she is.

What was the performance capture process like this time around?

It’s exactly the same. And in fact, I thought it was less intrusive. All of the idea of the helmets, all of that falls away and you are in this big empty space. You’re often on a series of sets that represent a big tree trunk or something. But it’s really the actors with each other and there’s no interference with hair, makeup, costumes. It gives you an incredible amount of freedom and trust to just let yourself go. I find it a very pure acting experience.

Where are you on your “Avatar” journey?

We shot three. I don’t know how much he’s done in terms of editing it, but I’m sure he’ll be ready in two years and then we have to go back. Whoever’s in four and five has to go back. I don’t want to get in trouble.

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