With James Cameron preparing to start shooting the AVATAR sequels this summer in Wellington, New Zealand, who better to cast than New Zealand native Cliff Curtis? The 48-year-old character actor is the first new addition to the blockbuster sci-fi franchise, and he’ll be playing a lead role alongside Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang.
Producer Jon Landau told the New Zealand Herald that Curtis will play Tonowari, the lead of the Metkayina, a clan of reef people. This makes sense, as Cameron has previously said that the sequels will explore more of Pandora, including its underwater community.
Landau said he and Cameron, who are members of New Zealand’s screen advisory board, have been following Curtis’ career ever since his breakout turn in 1994’s Once Were Warriors. Perhaps that’s why they have no problem shooting around his schedule for AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, on which he currently stars as Travis Manawa.
Personally, I fell for the actor following his brief turn as Smiley in Training Day, which left a strong impression. He’s the shotgun-toting thug who’s about to kill Ethan Hawke in a bathtub until he realizes that the young officer saved his niece from being raped. Curtis was also really good in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, and did you know he produced a pair of Taika Waititi films before the director graduated to the Marvel universe?
Curtis has worked with Martin Scorsese, David O. Russell, Michael Mann and Darren Aronofsky, and he’ll soon be seen alongside Jason Statham and a giant shark in the Warner Bros. movie Meg. He’s had one hell of career, and the Avatar franchise may just be the cherry on top.
The original 2009 film remains the highest-grossing movie in history, and Avatar 2 is slated to own theaters on Dec. 18, 2020 — a day that 20th Century Fox brass surely has circled on their calendars.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief