James Cameron Says ‘Avatar’ Aimed to Avoid “‘Stranger Things’ Effect” of High Schoolers Who “Look Like They’re 27”

James Cameron is well aware that his projects aren’t the only ones to have dealt with child castmembers’ changing appearances over the years.

During a recent Entertainment Weekly interview, the filmmaker offered further context for his decision to shoot his recently released sequel Avatar: The Way of Water at the same time as the franchise’s third film, scheduled for a 2024 release, and a portion of the fourth movie, given that growth spurts for the younger performers could change the way they look. For example, actor Jack Champion, who plays Spider in the films, was 13 when The Way of Water began shooting but is now 18.

“Otherwise, you get — and I love Stranger Things — but you get the Stranger Things effect where they’re supposed to still be in high school [but] they look like they’re 27,” Cameron explained. “You know, I love the show. It’s OK, we’ll suspend disbelief. We like the characters, but, you know.”

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Champion praised the connection he formed with Cameron over their four and a half years of filming. “He’s just a cinematic genius,” Champion said. “After so many years, he has kind of become like a father figure to me.”

During a subsequent interview with THR, Champion said that watching The Way of Water can feel like a “time capsule” given that he has been growing up in front of the cameras: “So it’s cool to see my teenage years onscreen, but I can still get immersed in the world of Pandora.”

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