Sigourney Weaver said playing a teenager in the second instalment of Avatar is the “safe way” she can return to her adolescence.
The 73-year-old Alien actress also told the PA news agency at the much-anticipated world premiere of Avatar: The Way Of Water – at the Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square, London, that the cast were at “each other’s throats” like a real family while filming.
Weaver stars as the adopted teenage daughter of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana’s characters, Jake Scully and Neytiri, who play the Na’vi people that live on the planet of Pandora which is invaded by humans.
In the original Avatar, which came out in 2009, Weaver played research scientist Dr Grace Augustine but did not reprise that role and Worthington was human before becoming a Na’vi.
When asked by PA about having to recreate being a teenager again, Weaver said: “I remember being 14, 15…so I often wanted to disappear (and) I remember what a see-saw it was.
“You’re on top of the world and then you feel everything is unfair and just lots of opposite things happening at different times – and Kiri’s very like that so it was fascinating.
“It was kind of a safe way (of) going back into my adolescence.”
Weaver said the film, directed by James Cameron, has the “family” as the central theme over the environment as it is more “universal and relatable”.
She added: “It was a joy to be part of that family, we were at each other’s throats sometimes, Jim (Cameron) wanted that…for us to kind of get at each other, still have fun and it’s very much a real family.”
Saldana also told PA: “(The story) felt like a natural progression for someone like Jake and Neytiri.
“That’s the natural course that they decided to follow is to start a family and and to keep that family together, to protect that family.”
The actors meet their marine kinsmen and so had to learn how to free dive and hold their breath underwater for several minutes in real life for filming.
Saldana was also asked about the difficulties of holding her breath for those long periods of time.
The 44-year-old Guardians Of The Galaxy actress said: “Those were the stakes that were (there) for us as artists, preparing and training to incarnate a character once again.
“It was quite daunting at first, but once we went through the training with world renowned free divers, it was exhilarating.”
Bailey Bass, who plays one of the new Na’vi characters, said she loved “being” in the water, while holding her breath, and called it one of her favourite moments from filming.
The 19-year-old, who has recently starred in Interview With The Vampire, added: “In order to hold your breath for a long period of time you have to be in a meditative state.
“So as much as people think it’s a challenge, and it’s scary, because you need to be calm, to hold your breath, I was at ease.”
Titanic actress Kate Winslet also joins the cast – where she reunites with Cameron since her break-out role in Titanic – alongside other newcomers Jack Champion and Edie Falco.
Bass also said she “freaked out” when she found out that she is playing Winslet’s daughter, a free diver of another water-based Na’vi clan Metkayin.
She added: “I’m just like, oh, wow. I mean, she’s a legend, and to be able to be with her in a scene…it feels like a once in a lifetime (opportunity) but who knows?
“It can always happen again. You never know.”
Both Stephen Lang, who plays Colonel Miles Quaritch, and Joel David Moore as Dr Norm Spellman also return for the sequel.
Avatar: The Way Of Water is due for release in cinemas on December 16.