The Na’vi next gen is here: A talk with actors Jamie Flatters and Bailey Bass
The Pandoran world is expanding and so is the narrative. Actors Jamie Flatters and Bailey Bass tell us why James Cameron might have another winner with the Avatar sequel.
Published: 17th December 2022 08:53 AM | Last Updated: 17th December 2022 08:53 AM | A+A A-
It seems like it has been forever since the release of the first Avatar film, hasn’t it? Specifically, it has been 13 long years, and yet, paradoxically, the memory of the first film continues to remain so fresh. A new planet called Pandora, a new civilisation called the Na’vi…
The fictional world captured the imagination of people across the world to such an extent that many were driven to depression by the knowledge that the planet was not real.
And yet, James Cameron’s love letter to nature was, in fact, about our world, our planet. Environmental concerns have only grown multifold over the last decade, even as the sequel—originally scheduled for release in 2014—is finally set for release, after an incredible delay of eight long years.
Actors Jamie Flatters and Bailey Bass—who play Na’vi youngsters, Neteyam (son of Jake and Neytiri) and Tsireya respectively—suggest that the experience of the sequel will be well worth the wait and more. With early reviews of the film from across the world suggesting that Cameron might have another winner on his hands, here are Jamie and Bailey breezing through some talking points about Avatar: The Way of Water.
I still remember the first Avatar film as a unique theatre experience. Do you remember when you saw it?
Jamie Flatters: Oh, I was only nine years old when I saw the film—and I loved it!
Bailey Bass: They played the first film during the auditions for everyone, and that’s when I saw it. I loved it, of course. Specifically, I was paying attention to Zoe Saldana’s performance as Neytiri, so I could take cues for my own role.
With the shooting of the sequel taking longer than anticipated, is it fair to say you both grew up on the film sets?
Bailey: Jaime, you had a lot of birthday parties on the sets!
Jaime: (laughs) Yes, I did have a lot of birthdays while shooting the sequels. I remember it all as an incredibly formative experience…
Bailey: You learn so much when you spend as much time with actors who are extraordinarily gifted at their job. And this includes Jaime, who I think is a phenomenal actor.
James Cameron has the reputation of being a tough taskmaster. What are your quick impressions about James Cameron?
Jaime: Uh, first and foremost, vegan! (laughs) No, no, he’s an amazing man. I’m fascinated by how he can attack an epic film and retain a such sharp focus on it for such a long time. As you can imagine, he has a limitless passion for filmmaking.
Bailey: I see him as a really thoughtful director who cares about his actors as people—not just as tools to be used for his project.
Jaime: And he’s a man who will do your job better than you can—especially when you don’t do it well.
Avatar: The Way of Water is said to have revolutionised the usage of performance capture technology.
Jaime: Well, I know it probably won’t be a fashion statement for me to say.
Bailey: We felt like superheroes, didn’t we?
Jaime: I liked the GoPro in front of my face (laughs). Many think that motion-capture equipment is restrictive, but I think it has helped us realise that to act, we don’t need anything more than the actors around us.
Bailey: Yes, and for the first time, it’s being done underwater. This has never been done before and just to be among the first people to have accomplished such a phenomenal feat… It’s a great feeling.
At the end of the first film, Jake Sully leaves his human body and transforms into a Na’vi man. Would either of you be game for such a transformation if it were possible?
Bailey: Nooooo! I’m good, thank you! (laughs) I find it to be too scary—unless, I know someone who has done that. I mean, with Jake, he meets Neytiri, falls in love, and is compelled to transform.
Jaime: I like your thinking! I wouldn’t be among the first 100 to transform, but hey, if about 10,000 people have already done it and seem okay, then I might consider it. Wait, that doesn’t reflect well on me, does it?
Bailey: Let the others die first? (laughs)