Avatar: The Way of Water makes a splash in theaters Friday, and Oscar-winning director James Cameron said he was eager to delve "deeper" into the characters we met in the original.
At a recent press event, he noted, "I think it's important for a sequel to honor what the audience loved about the experience the first time, but also to ... get them off balance, you know, do things that they don't expect."
He adds, "There are a lot of surprises in terms of where the story goes in this film that we're not putting into the trailers and the TV spots and all that ... It also goes a lot deeper in terms of the heart and the emotions. It was a much simpler story, and the characters were simpler, the first time."
Part of that is exploring the family dynamic between Sam Worthington's Sully and Zoe Saldaña's Neytiri, who are now parents having to protect their children, as well as their way of life, when a new threat emerges on the planet Pandora.
Worthington explains Cameron had unique way of filling in the cast about what happened on the planet in the decade between the two films. "Jim gave me a script that was Avatar 1.5 that ... unto itself is amazing and detailed and full of what they've kind of gone through over that gap."
"But ... [Cameron] wanted to explore what this family dynamic is, the natural extension of this love story," Worthington says, noting the extra script, which they didn't use, didn't detail that. "But it gave us a good jumping off point to understand how to fill in that gap that's missing."
"To be honest, most people would have stuck on that [script]. But not this guy," Sam said with a laugh of the writer-director.