Zoe Saldaña Explains How Playing Neytiri Differs From Playing Gamora

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Zoe Saldaña is an amazing and very known actress, but something that sets her apart from her colleagues is the fact that she was a part of currently two highest-grossing movies of all time — 2009’s Avatar and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame — and in both of these movies, she played colorful aliens.

Saldaña played Neyriti, princess of the Omaticaya clan, in James Cameron’s epic sci-fi flick, and she will reprise the role in Avatar: The Way of Water, this year’s sequel which was 13 years in the making. In 2014, Saldaña joined Marvel Cinematic Universe. She debuted as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, and she reprised the role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and we’ll watch her next year in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as well.

Released in 2009, the original Avatar movie became a worldwide phenomenon and it grossed $2.7 billion, which made it the highest-grossing movie of all time. In 2019, Avengers: Endgame managed to overthrow it, but Avatar regained the top spot after another re-release in China in the summer of 2020. It’s gonna take a while for Marvel to make another movie on that scale, but Avatar: The Way of Water is expected to gross just as much. Sam Worthington, Avatar’s lead star, recently spoke about returning for the sequel, and now Saldaña explained how playing Neytiri differs from playing Gamora.

“They demand a different kind of sacrifice, but they stand very unique on their own subjective grounds. Gamora is a much more traditional approach where you wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and you go through the whole prosthetic process. And then kind of once you see yourself and you feel Gamora on you, obviously, you transform, you know? And when it comes to Neytiri, it’s more of a practice. It’s months of training, not just rehearsing with your director, but training with movement coaches, and traveling to the jungle, and getting to feel what it’s like to make your own food with all the elements that are around you. And once you use all of that, you do bring it into what we call the volume, which is the set, when you shoot under performance-capture. Obviously, there are reference pictures, and Jim [Cameron] always has screens that are alive, and he’s showing you a very rough version of what the environment looks like. But you have been prepping yourself so much, and you believe so much in Pandora that it’s just not a difficult journey for you to make.” — Zoe Saldaña for Entertainment Weekly

The original Avatar movie will be remastered and re-released once again on September 23, 2022, ahead of the sequel’s release. Avatar: The Way of Water is set to be released on December 16, 2022.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is set to be released on May 5, 2023.

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