Academy Award winning actress Kate Winslet has been cast in a starring role in James Cameron’s Avatar sequels. After years of preparation, the followups to Cameron’s 2009 blockbusters are finally in production, with the first scheduled to hit theaters in 2020. Many of the actors from the original film, including Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang, are returning for the highly ambitious project, but there are some newcomers to the fledgling franchise. A collection of child actors have been brought on to play Na’vi children, and the likes of Cliff Curtis and Oona Chaplin have joined as well.

Cameron, always one to reach for the stars, attempted to get some A-listers to play on Pandora before filming started. Though he failed convincing Josh Brolin to come onboard, the director was able to make the Avatar sequels a Titanic reunion by bringing the one and only Kate Winslet into the fold.

According to Deadline, Winslet has been cast as a character referred to as Ronal. The report did not state if this individual is one of the human characters or a Na’vi – though Winslet has the chops to pull off either. Cameron had this to say about the development:

“Kate and I have been looking for something to do together for 20 years, since our collaboration on Titanic, which was one of the most rewarding of my career. I can’t wait to see her bring the character of Ronal to life.”

Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker Sewing Kate Winslet Cast In Avatar Sequels

Despite Winslet’s history with Cameron, this news arguably comes as a bit of a surprise. Though the actress did have a supporting role in the Divergent series, she has largely steered clear of big-budget tentpoles throughout her career. Winslet tends to appear in prestige dramas that have hopes of contending for awards, such as Steve Jobs and The Reader. Even when she dipped her toes in high-concept genre fare, it’s something smaller like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This is the first time Winslet will lend her talents to bona fide blockbuster films, and it’ll be interesting to learn more details about her character as the Avatar sequels make their way through production. It’s unknown how many of the followups Winslet will be in, but if she’s “starring,” then it’s likely a key role that will carry over through multiple entries in the series.

Getting Winslet is a huge get for the Avatar world, as it in a way gives the sequels some credibility. Though the first film was the biggest box office hit of all-time and earned a Best Picture nomination, some have questioned the need for four followups to a movie that’s left a minimal footprint on the pop culture zeitgeist. The allure of Winslet should be enough to pique the interests of casual audiences and cinephiles, if only to see what she brings to the table. Something about what Cameron has in store was enough to sell Winslet on the idea, so there’s likely something special in the works.

MORE: Why The Avatar Sequels Are Worth Their $1 Billion Budget

Source: Deadline

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