When it was announced that Sigourney Weaver was returning to Pandora for James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar sequel The Way Of Water, fans had questions. Namely, how the hell would she be back, since her character – sympathetic human Dr. Grace Augustine, leader of the RDA’s Avatar Program – died in the course of the first film? Are we talking flashbacks? Or a secret twin sister? The answer is something wholly unexpected. As revealed in Empire’s upcoming world-exclusive Avatar: The Way Of Water issue, Weaver is playing an entire new character in this film – and there are things about her you really need to know. Firstly, that she’s a Na’vi. Secondly, that she’s called Kiri. And thirdly, and most surprisingly, that she’s Jake and Neytiri’s adoptive teenage daughter. Here she is on our newly-unveiled subscriber cover.
We’ll allow you a sentence just to take that in again: Sigourney Weaver plays a blue alien teenager in Avatar: The Way Of Water. For the actor, who also worked with Cameron all those years ago on Aliens, it was a chance to bring her inner child out to play. “I think we all pretty much remember what we were feeling as adolescents,” she tells Empire. “I certainly do. I was 5’ 10” or 5’ 11” when I was 11. I felt strongly that Kiri would feel awkward a lot of the time. She’s searching for who she is. I was thrilled to be given that challenge by Jim.”
Cameron was aware of just what a leap it would be for the legendary actor. “As an acting challenge, it’s big,” he says. “We’re gonna have a 60-something actor playing a character [decades younger than] her actual biological age. Sig thought it was all kinds of fun.” Getting into that mindset meant Weaver workshopping with a group of teenage girls to channel some youthful energy – and the results were remarkable. “Sigourney just became younger,” recalls Cameron. “She looked younger, she had more energy, and she never quite stepped out of Kiri for our whole capture period. She had a glow on her face and lightness in her step and a fun spirit.”
While the reveal of Weaver’s role brings up all kinds of other questions about what The Way Of Water has in store, one stands out most strongly: does this mean her mother, Neytiri, will get to inherit Ripley’s most famous line? We’ll have a few months to wait and find out what “Get away from her, you bitch!” translates to in the Na’vi tongue.
Empire’s Avatar: The Way Of Water issue hits newsstands on Thursday 7 July, with unparalleled access to the film and its cast and crew – heading to Cameron’s Lightstorm HQ and talking to the director himself, as well as producer Jon Landau, stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, and plenty more. Plus, it’s stacked with never-before-seen images, opening up the world of Pandora like never before.
Pre-order a copy online here – and stay tuned to empireonline.com for more major exclusives. Avatar: The Way Of Water comes to UK cinemas from 16 December.