Kate Winslet is no stranger to working with James Cameron as a director. She was nominated for an Oscar for her work in Titanic, but that didn't exactly prepare for the experience of working on the Avatar sequels. The actress admits she was a bit nervous when she walked onto the set of Avatar 2. While it had been the better part of a decade since the first movie, it seems Winslet still felt like the new kid as one of those who had not been part of the original blockbuster. To at least some degree those nerves were warranted, and luckily Cameron helped by speaking with the actress.
Appearing on Marc Maron's WTF Podcast, Kate Winslet explained that on her very first day working on the Avatar franchise, she was already nervous, when James Cameron told her that everybody else there had already "drunk the Kool-Aid" when it came to immersing themselves in the world of Pandora and the rest of the franchise. According to Winslet...
Also, because he’s so intricately connected with that entire world because he created it, right, there’s a sort of a confidence in him that sort of breeds collaboration and conversation. It was great. I remember walking into the room on the sort of first day of rehearsal and lots of us were there all sitting around a table. And I was quite nervous because I thought, most of them had been on the first one ten years ago and all known each other forever. So I walk into the room and Jim said, ‘I just need to warn you before we go anything further. We’ve all drunk the Kool-aid so you will be speaking N’avi within the next half hour.’ I was like, ‘What does he quite sort of mean by that?’ But there’s a proper immersive experience to be found there and it was quite fascinating.
It's one thing to walk onto the set of an existing franchise as the new person, but in the case of Avatar it's a bit more than that. James Cameron created a new world when he created Avatar and he went much deeper in creating this world than many writers do. The Na'vi have their own language which functions like the real thing. The planet Pandora is full of life, even if the majority of the animals there are hexuped while the Na'vi are quadrupeds, which makes no sense. James Cameron put a lot of work into building this world and so step into probably feels quite different than just walking into any franchise. Especially when you're the only one who doesn't speak the language.
Of course, in this case "immersive" has something of a double meaning as Kate Winslet tells Marc Maron that the majority of her scenes took place under water. The actress has spoken previously about the work she went through to learn how to hold her breath so she could do long takes underwater. Production was probably also quite immersive since Winslet was working on more than one movie at once.
It sounds like Kate Winslet took to the experience quite well and ultimately drank the Kool-Aid herself. We'll see the results when Avatar 2 opens, which is supposed to happen in December of 2023, but we've heard that before.