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Sigourney Weaver Went Back to High School for Avatar: The Way of Water

To get in the mindset of her new character, Weaver studied teenage girls in a high school class.

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Screenshot: Disney

Sigourney Weaver’s character in the first Avatar movie—Dr. Grace Augustine—is dead. During a press conference for Avatar: The Way of Water on Tuesday, both James Cameron and Weaver wanted to make that explicitly clear. But Weaver was such an integral part to Cameron’s vision that he brought her back for the Avatar sequel, this time as a teenaged Na’vi named Kiri.

Kiri was a long time coming; apparently Weaver spoke to Cameron in 2010 (just a year after the original Avatar’s release) about the character, a girl who “is more comfortable in the forest, among the creatures” than she is in the science lab or even among other Na’vi. In order to get in Kiri’s mindset, Weaver said that she attended high school classes in order to perfect “the pitch” of the teenaged girl.

“I love that I had the opportunity to play a real adolescent,” Weaver said. “There’s a big range of who an adolescent is between 12 and 15, and once I saw that I realized I can let Kiri come out—whoever she is—and combine her with who I was at 14. It gave me so much to work with. And by the time I got there, I just got to enjoy leaving this shell behind and becoming this sometimes-brat.”

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Although Kiri is a totally new character, she does have a surprising connection with Dr. Grace Augustine, which is revealed very early in Avatar: The Way of Water. Find out more and see Weaver’s teenage turn when the movie opens December 16.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.