Avatar 2 stars Sam Worthington and Cliff Curtis interview

Sam Worthington returns to screens next month in the blockbuster franchise that’s already made the unassuming Aussie actor the star of the highest-grossing movie of all time.

Avatar: The Way of Water is the long-awaited sequel to the first film, coming 13 years after James Cameron’s fantasy sci-fi epic took almost $US3 billion ($A4.4 billion) at the global box office.

Avatar 3 will follow in December 2024, and, all going well, the fourth and fifth instalments in the franchise will be released in December 2026 and December 2028, respectively.

Worthington, 46, told news.com.au he really had no clue all those years ago that the film he was signing up for could dominate years – decades, really – of his life.

“A sequel was never really discussed. I think it was many years later, after Jim (director James Cameron) had taken up free diving, that I got a call. The way he was talking about it, I thought, ‘OK, I think he’s going to incorporate that into something,’” he said.

“But it took a couple of years and a couple of phone calls with Jim to discover that he wanted to keep progressing this story.”

The Way of Water sees Worthington reprise his role as former US marine Jake Sully – but this time, Sully is fully immersed in Na’vi life, having left his human body behind to follow his love of Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).

Action-packed and full of epic spectacle, the film also focuses on the plight of other inhabitants of the planet of Pandora, the Metkayina reef clan. While the Na’vi live in the forest, the Metkayina roam the seas, diving into the deep and interacting with all sorts of bizarre creatures.

It meant Cameron’s cast were faced with a “daunting” task: To learn free-diving, so he could properly film them in water tanks using the film’s performance capture methods.

New cast member Cliff Curtis, who plays reef people leader Tonowari, told news.com.au that he loved the experience. Worthington, on the other hand, was less glowing.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” he told us.

“It’s daunting when someone says what we’re going to try to achieve. It was many months of learning with the world’s best how to do this: How to slow your heart rate, how to get more oxygen into your bloodstream, how to have the mechanics of it,” he said.

“The most difficult part, then, is getting rid of that. There’s a very emotional scene between me and the son, but we’re 30 feet underwater and running out of oxygen. You’ve got to forget that you’re deep down, that you’re depleting all your oxygen, and just play this emotional scene between a father and a son.

“That’s the hardest thing.”

Avatar 2: The Way of Water is in Australian cinemas on December 15.

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