James Cameron has selected the first new cast member for the Avatar sequels, with Fear the Walking Dead‘s Cliff Curtis landing the lead. The first film from 2009 was highly praised at the time for its advancements in technology (specifically 3D) and visual effects, and went on to become the highest-grossing move of all time. Since then, sequels have been in various stages of development, with their respective release dates pushed back again and again.
However, Fox recently announced new release dates for Avatar 2, Avatar 3, Avatar 4, and Avatar 5. Production has been confirmed to start on the first few later this year, but there had yet to be any new cast members added. That has changed now with Curtis joining the fray.
Deadline reports that Curtis has landed a new lead role that will see him return in all four of the planned sequels. He will be playing a character named Tonowari, who is the leader of an underwater tribe of reef dwellers known as the Metkayina. This confirms the upcoming films will expand the original film’s distant world by exploring new regions on Pandora. It is unclear, however, if Curtis’s new character will be a friend or foe to the Omaticaya clan.
Curtis joins a cast that so far only consists of returning stars Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang. While it is clear to see how Saldana and Worthington’s characters factor in, the other two are much more of a mystery — especially Lang. However, with Curtis being described as a new lead character, it is clear Tonowari is going to be a big part of whatever Cameron has concocted. Now that he has joined the film, it signals that pre-production is moving along and eager fans should possibly expect additional casting announcements.
Outside of how Curtis factors into these sequels, it may also signify a bleak future for his time on Fear the Walking Dead. Having a leading role in CGI-heavy films such as these will eat up a significant amount of his schedule, which means the role of Travis may be a casualty when the series returns next month on AMC.
As far as Avatar is concerned, however, Cameron’s research in preparation for this underwater world has been one of the many reasons the sequels have been pushed back. Now, it is on the acclaimed director to make good on the wait and deliver something that is unlike anything audiences have seen before. Lucky for him, he has a pretty strong track record when it comes to delivering game-changing films that gross enormous amounts of money at the box office.