Exclusive Interviews: Sigourney Weaver, Jon Landau and Steven Lang Talk ‘Avatar’

Avatar-Teaser-PosterBy now, anyone frequenting The Flickcast has seen our reports about Avatar’s tickets already on sale for its December 18th release, our thoughts on its early footage and of course spent hours dissecting every second of the initial trailer. But there hasn’t been much talk with either the cast or crew of the film since Jim Cameron’s appearance at the E3 convention back in June. That is, until now.

Recently, we got the chance to speak briefly with stars of the film Sigourney Weaver and Steven Lang as well as Producer Jon Landau about their experiences working on the film. Rather than asking them what we should expect to see as the trailers and revealed footage have already given us an idea of that, we wanted to know what it was like for these film veterans to work with the new technology Cameron developed specifically for this project.

Sigourney Weaver, “Dr. Grace Augustine”

The Flickcast: From an actress’s perspective, how was this different than any other movie you’ve worked on?

Sigourney Weaver: I think in every possible way. I think the one thing that’s the same is that it was very important to Jim Cameron and all of us to tell the story with as much truth and power as we could. But you were surrounded by the most awesome technology and world.

You’d see pictures of the world that you were doing performance capture in and it was a lot of his experiences in the deep ocean you see suddenly on Pandora. It was just one very inspiring thing after another that we were surrounded by. It was really a completely unique experience working on this.

Jon Landau, Producer

The Flickcast: First off, one thing that Jim Cameron has gotten known for is giving experiences. He’s not thought of as a movie maker, he’s thought of as an experience maker. Would you comment on that and how that relates to Avatar?

Jon Landau: I think Jim is thought of as an experience maker. I think Avatar is the ultimate experience. I think it is an experience that engages you in a world the likes of which you have never seen with a dramatic storyline which carries you all the way through.

TF: When it came to the creation of Avatar, what came first? The idea behind Avatar or the technology?

JL: I think with Jim, the story always comes first. He comes up with the story first and then we find ways of finding the technology to tell the story. We did that on Titanic. He did it with the Abyss with the psuedopod. The psuedopod enabled Terminator 2 but he had had the idea for Terminator 2 years before he even wrote the Abyss. So Jim, story first, technology second.

TF: How was making this movie different from any other movie made before because of the new technology?

JL: I think what’s really different, it allows us to go places where people couldn’t do before. No one could have created the world of Pandora the way we’re creating it. Nobody could have realized the banshee, the flying banshee and interacting with the cast the way we’ve been. Technology has enabled that all to service the story.

Steven Lang, Actor “Marine Corps Colonel Quaritch”

The Flickcast: How was working on this movie different from any other experience just because of all the new technology that’s associated with Avatar?

Steven Lang: Well, for one there were great periods where I didn’t work. The work on the film went over two years. Now that’s not necessarily an answer to the technology question but the lag was because of technology because other things are going on. Originally I did a four and a half month shoot in New Zealand and then came back to the film six months later. But the technology, it’s there and maybe you’re awed by it, maybe you’re intimidated by it and then you get used to it real quick.

TF: What was your first reaction when you saw the technology finally put to its full potential? Have you seen final screens yet or anything like that?

SL: Well it’s extraordinary. It’s pretty jaw dropping. It’s extremely engrossing and entertaining and inspiring and you don’t feel like you can really encompass it all in in one viewing. It’s like I remember when I was a little kid and I saw Never Never Land in Walt Disney’s Peter Pan and I said, “I wanna go there.” That’s what this is like.

TF: Did you have anything to do with the Avatar game that is going to be coming out soon?

SL: Yes, I am the voice of Colonol Quaritch, my character, in it but you have to get to level three I think to get to me.

TF: Do you have any kids you are going to be playing that game with when it comes out?

SL: I have four kids, they’re pretty big kids but I’m sure they’ll play it anyway. Absolutely.

TF: How was it working with Jim Cameron? Have you had previous experience working with Jim before?

SL: We’ve never worked together before and I was thrilled to be asked to do this. It was an unalloyedly wonderful experience. It was ferocious hard work. Very focused. Very, very provocative. Very, very improvisational. Just an altogether exciting experience. You couldn’t ask for more from a director.

Even with the extended footage of Avatar being received with mixed emotions by some, there is something special about this project that still has captured the hearts of the geek community as it was so wholeheartedly received at Comic-Con. Stay tuned to The Flickcast as we continue coverage of this epic and momentous project.

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