Sigourney Weaver on the Lightness of Being an Avatar
08.05.09 by REELZ
In James Cameron's Avatar, Sigourney Weaver plays Dr. Grace Augustine, a veteran botanist who mentors the protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), during his introduction to the alien moon Pandora. Like Sully and all the other humans, she has to inhabit an avatar, i.e. a human-alien hybrid, in order to survive the deadly environment they encounter there.
Weaver explained in an interview with IESB that getting into her avatar was more than just a matter of changing her look:
One of the fun things about my character is that she's so unhealthy. She's so driven. She never sleeps. She chain smokes. She doesn't eat. When she's on Pandora, she has this light, young body, and she can jump from tree to tree. She's free. She has no aches or pains. One of the things that I worked on was the impact of coming back into your human body, when it's not in great shape. That's something that Jim and I discussed, coming out of the link, having been such a free and physical spirit, and then going back to your body, which is falling apart. That was very humbling, each time. Grace was very aware that she was running out of time.
The contrast turns out to be even more overwhelming for Sully, who is paralyzed in his human form, and is eventually confronted with a choice that may mean abandoning his avatar forever.