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James Cameron wrote 'Avatar 1.5' script to help the actors with 'Way of Water's 10-year jump

To say that Cameron is a detail-oriented storyteller would be the understatement of the century.

By Josh Weiss
(L-R): Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER.

To say that James Cameron is a detail-oriented storyteller would be the understatement of the century.

The celebrated filmmaker isn't just interested in pushing the boundaries of cinema from a technical standpoint, but he also wants his actors to be as prepared as possible when the cameras start rolling. He craves the most authentic performances imaginable, which can only be possible when an actor understands their character inside and out. Given how Avatar: The Way of Water (out in theaters next week) takes place a decade after the events of the 2009 original, Cameron apparently wrote an entire screenplay detailing what happened to all the returning characters in those intervening years. 

“Jim [Cameron] gave us a script of 1.5 that he wrote that shows the time between Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water, and he wrote a full script," Sam Worthington, who returns to play Jake Sully, told press, including SYFY WIRE. “[He said:] ‘Look, read this. We’ll fill in the blanks of what Jake’s been doing.’ I said, ‘When do we shoot this one? Because this is amazing.’ He goes, ‘No, no, that’s just something I wrote over the past year to give you his backstory.’"

Worthington said he lent the pseudo-prequel script to co-star Zoe Saldaña, who still has it. “I just never returned it," she admitted. "I was like, ‘I’m keeping this.’”

Avatar: The Way of Water flies into theaters everywhere next Friday, Dec. 16, and early reactions on social media have been overwhelmingly positive. "Never bet against James Cameron," tweeted Uproxx writer Mike Ryan. "Trying to spare hyperbole, but I’ve never seen anything like this from a technical, visual standpoint. It’s overwhelming. Maybe too overwhelming. Sometimes I’d miss plot points because I’m staring at a Pandora fish."

"It’s a James Cameron limit break where even intimate feelings slam with seismic force," added Eric Francisco of Inverse. "Jaw-dropping design make a mostly CG world and cast (miraculously emotive) feel impossibly alive. Even the water’s hypnotizing."

Three sequels are planned, but we'll have to see how the box office numbers shake out before Disney (releasing Way of Water under its 20th Century Studios banner) gives Cameron the go-ahead for Avatars 4 and 5. The third installment should be finished by now and currently has a theatrical release date of Dec. 20, 2024.

“I don’t worry about it," Cameron said to Variety when asked whether he's worried about the long-awaited sequel tanking financially. "I don’t think anything one does artistically in life should be determined by the trolls and the naysayers. You just go where you think it makes sense ... My tastes are so kind of blue collar and general. They’re not esoteric, my personal tastes. If I like my movie, I know other people are gonna like my movie. It’s very simplistic, really, ultimately.”

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