Kate Winslet learned an impressive underwater skill while filming the ‘Avatar’ sequel

Kate Winslet
Photo credit C Flanigan/Getty Images

It’s been a long time since “Avatar” ruled the box office when it came out in 2009. And even longer since Kate Winslet and director James Cameron worked together on "Titanic."

But they've reunited for another project, and this time Winslet is in the water much longer.

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In the "Avatar" sequel, Winslet, 46, plays a mysterious character named Ronal. The film takes place in an underwater world, which means the actors had to endure immense amounts of underwater training in scuba diving.

The actors also had to master free diving -- or holding their breath for long lengths of time.

It was amazing enough that 72-year-old Sigourney Weaver could easily hold her breath for six and a half minutes. But Cameron applauded Winslet in a recent Entertainment Weekly article, noting that she "blew everybody away when she did a seven-and-a-half-minute breath hold."

No matter it’s worldwide success, and director James Cameron’s stellar film resume, a sequel to a 12-year old movie is risky. And there are three more sequels planned.

"It sounds kind of nuts, the process. I mean, if Avatar hadn't made so much damn money, we'd never do this, because it's kind of crazy," he told the outlet.

While Cameron, 67, began planning this first sequel in 2012, filming didn’t start until 2017. And as can be ascertained from seeing the original sprawling, CGI-heavy, location-spanning “Avatar,” these things aren’t quick to assemble.

But after all this time, Avatar 2 has an official release date – December 16, 2022 – if no official title just yet. The story is set 14 years after the first, and unlike the mostly forest settings of “Avatar,” this second one focuses on the undersea world seen in the first film. Former human soldier Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Na'vi warrior Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) have started a family, and much of the film centers on their young offspring.

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As known from his most famous film, “Titanic,” to the numerous water-based documentaries he’s worked on, and his record-breaking journey to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 2012, the ocean is James Cameron’s first love.

As EW reminds, the director has long advocated for ocean conservation. "I do the ocean thing when I'm not making movies," he says. "So if I could combine my two greatest loves — one of which is ocean exploration; the other, feature filmmaking — why wouldn't I?"

Avatar of course was lauded as one of the most innovative special effects films ever made. But a striking production detail about this sequel is that the motion-capture technology they used on the first film was not going to work underwater.

So they had to go about figuring out new ways to capture actor movements and expressions underwater in order to replicate the fantastic effects of the first film.

While the first sequel took a decade, it has been reported that the remaining sequels have already been filmed during the process of making Avatar 2.

In fact, principal photography on Avatar 3 has already wrapped. It is due in 2024. The fourth and fifth movies are currently set for 2026 and 2028.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: C Flanigan/Getty Images