Sigourney Weaver Fights To Save An Alien World In Avatar

James Cameron's Avatar, coming in 2009, is about ecology and greed, says star Sigourney Weaver. She talked to Premiere magazine about what it's like to work with the world's most micro-managing director. And she explained why she's not a science fiction actor. Click through for some highlights, plus an update from director James Cameron himself.

According to synopses released so far, Avatar is the story of an injured ex-marine who gets taken to an alien planet, the Avatar world. There, he's forced to help humans colonize it against his will. But he eventually rebels and helps to lead the aliens in their fight for freedom.

Weaver said a few times that she's not a supporting character in Avatar, but "the female lead." Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana may have the "romantic leads," but Weaver has just as big a part. On her character, she says:

[James Cameron] created a wonderful character for me. She's a lot like him — she's very impatient, she's very driven, she's got a big heart, she's very complicated and you see very different people in the human world and in the avatar world. It's a fantastic canvas for me to paint on.
Weaver's character, Grace, has bright red hair and big eyelashes, but no makeup. "She's a scientist, and she's an attractive woman who has given up a normal life to devote herself to this planet and fight this fight. She learns a lot over the course of the story," Weaver says.

Avatar is "gonna blow the mind of this industry," with its vivid emotions and 3-D motion-capture visuals using Cameron's own self-designed cameras, Weaver predicts. The story is about ecology and greed, but also about love and "becoming a man." (I don't think Weaver meant her character becomes a man. But you never know.) "It's a very dense piece of work," she adds.

Not only did Cameron design the new 3-D cameras used in Avatar, but he also designed the sets, the guns and a lot of the alien creatures we meet. So it's understandable that he's a bit impatient with people who can't see inside his head and understand his vision, Weaver insists. "He's operating the camera," she adds, possibly exaggerating, but maybe not. "Considering what he's taken on, he's quite angelic, actually."

Weaver has turned down a lot of not-that-compelling parts in science fiction movies, and she doesn't think she has that much of a following among science fiction fans. But she loves the genre, because it involves "doing the impossible."

Separately, Cameron wrote to Ain't It Cool News about the status of Avatar:

I'm in New Zealand right now, working on effects, while Steve Quale shoots some second unit. We've worked together a lot (he did the engine room scenes on "Titanic", plus co-directed "Aliens of the Deep" with me) and he's the only guy I trust to shoot stuff for me, especially in 3D. We still have a little performance capture work to do with Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in March, when we get her back from Star Trek (she's Uhura — but of course you already knew that.) And we have a couple of days with Stephen Lang in April or May, to shoot his character's last scene, which is so technically difficult it will take us until then to figure out how to do it.
Cameron also dismissed the supposedly leaked Avatar teaser poster above as "fan art." But that doesn't explain why Fox execs rushed to issue a cease-and-desist order to sites displaying it last week.

[Premiere Magazine, via Jenni]