qa with james cameron and the cast of avatar 2

Q&A With James Cameron and the Cast of ‘Avatar’ 2

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Did having children change the way you take risks in your own life?

CAMERON Yes, I was pretty wild in my misspent youth, and there are a lot of risks that I wouldn’t take now. I see some of that wildness in my own kids, and there are stories that are embargoed until they’ve turned a certain age. But it definitely colors your whole perspective to have children.

I also want to do the thing that other people aren’t doing. When I look at these big, spectacular films — I’m looking at you, Marvel and DC — it doesn’t matter how old the characters are, they all act like they’re in college. They have relationships, but they really don’t. They never hang up their spurs because of their kids. The things that really ground us and give us power, love, and a purpose? Those characters don’t experience it, and I think that’s not the way to make movies.

WORTHINGTON Jim wrote this family in a great way where not only are the stakes life and death, but the conflicts are quite domestic. You’re still having these arguments with kids that you have every day, like, “Pick up your clothes, eat your food,” even though the world is at war. To be honest, I’ve used a lot of what I learned from reacting to teenage boys in the movie and put it back into my real life, because I’ve got three boys — it’s a zoo at my house — and someone’s got to be the Great Santini and keep them in line.

James, even before you had kids, a lot of your action films explored that parental dynamic. I’m thinking of Sarah Connor and her son, John, in “Terminator 2,” or Ripley and Newt in “Aliens.”

CAMERON I think it’s a question of what interests one as a writer and director. The one thing I’ve learned is that you’ve got to have something that the actors can get their teeth into, something that they can draw on from their life experience. I knew as I was writing it that Sam and Zoe were new parents and that this stuff would resonate for them, but if you’re speaking to a young audience, let them feel validated that kids on another planet, 200 years from now, are going through the same crap they’re going through right now.

Sigourney, how did you react when you learned you’d be playing a moody, motion-captured 14-year-old?