Stephen Lang Never 'Abandoned The Mindset' Of Avatar's Quaritch Between Films

"Avatar: The Way of Water" has already lived up to the expectations of its technologically revolutionary predecessor. In addition to the breathtaking visual effects (fake water has never looked this great), the sequel gives its characters another chance to recapture the hearts of the eager audience. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) return as parents to a swath of new, lovable Na'vi children that now lead the film series. However, "The Way of Water" proved the most interesting character in the "Avatar" franchise may actually be Quaritch. More than a decade later, Stephen Lang brings the vengeful villain to life as if he never left us in the first place.

In the first "Avatar," Quaritch was the quintessential, overtly bigoted military leader designed to be hated by anyone with a heartbeat sitting in the theater. And yet, Lang brought just the right amount of charisma to balance out the character's evil tendencies. We loved to hate him. "The Way of Water" resurrects the spirit of the character in a new avatar, and he is about as devious and unrelenting as we remember him. Lang never abandoned Quaritch's mindset in between the two films, which allowed him to slip back into the role with a new layer of nuance.

'I was ready to do it'

In an interview with Digital Spy, Stephen Lang revealed that he always kept the character alive in the back of his head in between the development of both films:

"I don't think I ever really abandoned the mindset, because I'd known for a long, long time that there was more to be said on his behalf. So I always kept those embers kind of glowing in the back of my heart -– or heartless body. When time came to actually revisit Quaritch and bring him to life, I was ready to do it. He's a character that I find a great pleasure to inhabit."

More to be said, indeed. Lang returned to the villainous role not just for old times' sake, but to dive deeper into the psyche of the complex character. "The Way of Water" re-introduces the formerly-deceased Quaritch in a manner that forces the character to reckon with his own, now-blue existence. He's still a massive prick, of course, but there is more to explore the second time around in that "heartless body."

'He becomes part of Pandora'

In "Avatar: The Way of Water," the fundamental parts of Quaritch have been restored, but he now fully inhabits the body of a Na'vi everywhere he goes. He is forced to acclimate to the very species he previously deemed unworthy of the world they lived in. Lang believes Quaritch is still quite the villain, but his new status quo complicates things:

"And now I think he is that. He still is the source of conflict. But he's also something else again, as he becomes part of the landscape. He becomes part of Pandora, in a way, and that operates on him in very confusing ways."

The internal conflict Quaritch has with his newfound ability to live in the Pandora environment is not a major focus in "The Way of Water," but the groundwork is laid to address it head-on in the future. From finding his own human corpse in the forest to taming a Banshee all on his own, Quaritch is slowly but surely separating himself from his past life. The sequel's ending also sets up a turning point in Quaritch's second lease on life, which could be a larger focus going forward in any of the three upcoming sequels.

Until then, you can see Quaritch continue to wreak havoc on the Na'vi in "Avatar: The Way of Water," currently in theaters. Not that it needs more money, but still.