'Avatar 2' Underwater Scenes Had Sigourney Weaver And The Cast Holding Their Breath Over Six Minutes At A Time

Director James Cameron recently revealed that production on Avatar 2 is 100% complete in both live-action and motion capture filming, and Avatar 3 wasn't too far behind. If you're wondering what's taking so damn long, it might be more than just the extensive post-production process and development of state-of-the-art technology. Because according to Sigourney Weaver, preparation for the shoot required cast members to train with "elite military divers" in order to allow them to hold their breath underwater for as much as six minutes, so Cameron could maximize the amount of footage he could capture in a single take.

The New York Times spoke with Sigourney Weaver for a recent profile of the actress (which is worth reading in its entirety), and part of their discussion turned to her work on the Avatar sequels. At 70 years old, she wasn't precluded from the rigorous underwater training required to make the anticipated sequel to the 2009 sci-fi action adventure. And that's exactly how Weaver likes it. She said, "I don't really say to myself, 'Well, you can't do this.' Or, 'You can't do that.' Let me at it! And we'll see."

The Alien and Ghostbusters star was definitely given a handful with the Avatar sequels. The New York Times explained what was required of her in order to shoot the taxing underwater sequences:

"Weaver and other members of the cast had to learn not to squint or clamp their mouths shut — both natural reactions when you're submerged — during take after take in a gigantic water tank. She had weights around her waist and professional divers who sped her back to the surface for air at brief, regular intervals."

Needless to say, Weaver was a little worried. She recalled, "I had some concerns. 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.'"

Weaver is a big screen icon, and that's largely because of her performance as the tough Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise. So we'd expect nothing less from the woman who fought plenty of xenomorphs, eventually sacrificed herself to stop the birth of a new alien queen, and was cloned 200 years later, still as tough as ever. As for exactly what she's doing in Avatar 2 and the rest of the sequels, we're not sure since she's playing a new character this time. But we'll find out in over two years when Avatar 2 hits theaters on December 16, 2022, followed by three more sequels every other year after that.