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The first of four sequels to James Cameron’s game-changing blockbuster won’t hit theaters until 2020. But EW has the exclusive intel on the troupe of young actors who will join stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana on Pandora (first photo below).
The forest-dwelling offspring of Avatar‘s human–turned–Na’vi hero (Sam Worthington) and his fiery love interest, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), will play a crucial role in the long-long-long-awaited follow-ups to the 2009 blockbuster, the first of which began filming on Sept. 25 (and are called the Avatar Sequels, by the way).
The young actors playing Sully’s family are revealed here for the first time, along with the children from another Na’vi clan, called the Metkayina, who dwell on giant oceanic atoll reefs under the rule of a leader named Tonowari (Cliff Curtis of Fear the Walking Dead).
Of course, in the above photo, you’ll have to use your imagination a bit to picture the cast in CG character as lanky blue cat-eyed Na’vi. That is, with one exception — Javier “Spider” Socorro (played by 12-year-old Jack Champion, who’s standing on the right in a blue shirt in the above photo). Spider is a human teenager born at the Hell’s Gate military complex, a crucial location in the first film.
According to producer Jon Landau, the kids of Avatar 2 represent the biggest focus shift from the original movie. “We never had this youthful element before, and that brings a different kind of energy to the film,” he says. “They represent the future generation of Pandora and play a very significant role — not just in this movie but throughout all the movies.”
Director James Cameron has famously spent years working on the scripts for the four Avatar sequels. The first is scheduled to hit theaters on Dec. 18, 2020. That hiatus is nearly as long as the 12 years between Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar — and the filmmaker proved skeptics wrong once Avatar passed Titanic as the highest-grossing film of all time. Landau remarks that Avatar 2 will silence any doubters who dismissed the first title as a one-time 3-D sensation.
“Nobody is watching Avatar [on home video] or waiting in four-hour lines at Disney’s World of Avatar or going to the sold-out Cirque du Soleil shows because of the film’s 3-D,” he points out. “People respond because of the movie’s characters, themes, and emotions—and we have all that again. When the cast read what Jim Cameron wrote [for the sequels], it hit them with even greater resonance than the first movie.”