Edward Norton turned down an Avatar 2 role, telling director James Cameron he wanted be to a "Na'vi or nothing." Cameron’s highly successful sci-fi action film was the biggest release of 2009, kickstarting a renewed interest in 3-D filmmaking that continues to be felt today.
For years it looked as though Avatar’s place atop the list of highest grossing films of all time couldn’t be toppled, but everything changed with the arrival of Avengers: Endgame in the summer of 2019. And while Cameron’s stunning visual and technological achievement may now be relegated to the second highest grossing film of all time, there are more Avatar films on the way – many more. Beginning in 2021 and continuing until 2027, four more Avatar films will be released, meaning that the spot of the highest grossing film of all time could once again be occupied by an Avatar film. The potential prospects - and risks – are dizzying and Cameron’s casting process continues to explore intriguing options.
While we currently know who has been cast in the upcoming sequels, there has been talk recently about at least one high profile celebrity turning down a chance to star in the original film. Now, thanks to an interview with Total Film (via CBR), we know that another A-list celebrity, Edward Norton, also turned down the chance to work for Cameron, this time in Avatar 2. Apparently fueled by his desire to play a Na’vi, Norton refused to consider any other role when asked by Cameron to star in his sequel. Said Norton:
"I am friends with Jim [Cameron], and actually enormously admire and kind of adore him. So when he wanted me to do something in Avatar 2, I basically told him, 'If I’m not a Na’vi, I’m not doing it. I’m not being part of the industrial world, coming in to destroy Pandora. I’m either a Na’vi or nothing.'"
Instead, Norton took the opportunity to work with Robert Rodriguez on Alita: Battle Angel, which was co-written by Cameron. Though uncredited in Alita, Norton attributes his opportunity to work with Rodriguez to Cameron, who responded to Norton’s desire to play a Na’vi with, “Okay, maybe in 3,4 or 5, then.” Whether or not Cameron’s willingness to make a Na’vi out of Norton means we’ll definitely see the Alita star in one of Avatar’s upcoming sequels remains to be seen. At the same time, however, Norton fans would surely love the opportunity to see the star as a blued hued Na'vi in what may very well be some of the biggest films of all time.
At present, the hype surrounding the upcoming Avatar 2 seems to be relatively tame, as does anticipation for the remainder of the sequels. This is understandable to a certain degree, especially when one considers that Avatar was released a decade ago. For now, Norton will continue to promote the projects he’s attached to – most notably Motherless Brooklyn, the long awaited follow up to his directorial debut, Keeping the Faith. Only time will tell if fans do eventually get the opportunity to see Norton join the battle for Pandora.
Source: Total Film/CBR
- Avatar 2 (2021) release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Avatar 3 (2023) release date: Dec 22, 2023
- Avatar 4 (2025) release date: Dec 19, 2025
- Avatar 5 (2027) release date: Dec 17, 2027