PHILADELPHIA -- James Cameron's highly anticipated sequel to "Avatar" hits theaters Friday. It took 5 years to film "Avatar: The Way of Water."
The star studded cast says the oceans of Pandora presented the challenge of their careers.
"I think the world is ready," said Zoe Saldana, back in her role as Neytiri. "I felt now more than ever, I just needed to escape to Pandora so badly. I'm so happy that now it's finally here, and we get to share it with the world."
Filming on this sequel began back in 2017, with Cameron pushing even his own boundaries.
"The key to it was to shoot really underwater and really at the surface of the water," he said. "It looks real because the motion was real, and the emotion was real."
Producer Jon Landau says the goal was to "create something that really does go to the next level."
That level includes depth, with Cameron training his cast to film those underwater scenes - under water. He hired a team of professionals to teach his star-studded cast to perform their craft 30-feet deep, inside a performance capture tank.
"I said, Jim, I can't hold my breath for 30 seconds," laughs Sigourney Weaver, who plays Kiri. "And he said, 'You'll be able to,' and I thought, 'This is so Jim.'"
Weaver got up to six and a half minutes under water.
Kate Winslet broke a record with 7 minutes and 15 seconds.
"It was completely amazing," she said. "I was very happy to do it. I was really comfortable about the process. I felt very, very safe, which of course was key."
Stephen Lang is back as Colonel Quiddich. He says the key is to "relax to a point where you are expending as little oxygen as possible."
"And then you go down and act," he laughed.
This sequel centers on the expanded Sully family, as they face danger and endure tragedy.
"The movie is about connecting to the people that you love," said Sam Worthington, back as Jake Scully.
"Avatar: The Way of Water" runs 3 hours and 10 minutes long. It debuts in select theaters Thursday and everywhere Friday.
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