Sigourney Weaver learned to hold her breath underwater for over 6 minutes while filming Avatar 2 so director James Cameron could shoot longer takes.
Filming Avatar 2 required Sigourney Weaver to hold her breath underwater for six minutes at a time. Upon its release in 2009, James Cameron's Avatar was a monumental success. Telling the story of a veteran (Sam Worthington) who joins a research mission on the planet Pandora, Avatar became the highest-grossing film in history (at the time) and was nominated for nine Academy Awards. Despite telling a self-contained story, Cameron soon signaled his intention to create several Avatar sequels. In August, the first of the four upcoming sequels was delayed from next year to December 2022, the latest in a long line of release postponements.
Avatar 2 will see the returns of several familiar faces from the first one, such as Worthington, Zoe Saldana (as Pandora native Neytiri), and Stephen Lang (as the late Colonel Miles Quaritch). Additionally, Weaver is poised to play a significant role in Avatar 2, though the details of her character remain a mystery. In the first film, Weaver played Dr. Grace Augustine, but she died at the end of the film. Set photos from Avatar 2 initially suggested she would appear via flashbacks, but then further looks behind the scenes hinted she could be playing a new Na'vi character.
The newest behind the scenes story for Avatar 2 doesn't provide any new clues about Weaver's character, though it does reveal what she went through while filming. In a new interview with The New York Times, Weaver shared she trained with an expert to learn how to hold her breath underwater for over six minutes. This was done so that Cameron could film longer takes for the submerged scenes. "I had some concerns," Weaver said. "But that’s what the training was for. And I really wanted to do it. I didn’t want anyone to think, ‘Oh, she’s old, she can’t do this.'" Undoubtedly, this is a very impressive feat for the actress, who was 70 years old at the time of filming.
The oceans of Pandora will get special focus in Avatar 2, which is why Cameron has spent so long developing new technology for the underwater scenes and why Weaver put in so much rigorous training. Weaver and the rest of the Avatar 2 cast prepped for the film by performing real diving sessions, and this latest anecdote from Weaver further highlights how far everyone went to achieve some form of realism in this fantastical world. While no one can travel to Pandora, they can get used to being underwater.
As it has been over ten years since the first Avatar was released, there's a great deal of curiosity surrounding the sequels. The biggest frustration at this point is that none have been released; despite the fact that Avatar 2 already completed filming, fans still have to wait two years to see the next chapter in Jake and Neytiri's story. Hopefully in the meantime, Cameron will finally let fans in on the secret of who Weaver is playing.