Last week we saw a poster featuring, what looked like, Sam Worthington’s Avatar, and now we have another poster which looks like Neytiri, an alien Na’vi played by Zoe Saldana.
Director James Cameron spoke to io9 about the look of the Na’vi aliens and how he didn’t want them to look too weird as Avatar is a love story, and if the Na’vi looked too freaky the audience wouldn’t believe that a human could fall in love with one of them.
It was a fine line to walk, between making them too alien. When some early images started to leak, and even with the banners, you know some of the fans are starting to say, “Gee, I thought they’d look more alien if you’re gonna through all this trouble to CG everything.” But If it wasn’t a love story, if it was more a story about first contact with an alien race, I think it would be. But this is really more a story about assimilation, and Jake becoming one of them. And starting to see through the eyes of people who are culturally different. Plus it’s a love story. So the physiological differences — the more alien we make them in the design phase, we just kept asking ourselves — basically, the crude version is: “Well, would you wanna do it?” And our all-male crew of artists would basically say, “Nope, take the gills out.” It was pretty simple, but then taken in a very specific degree.
We had done casts from the actors’ faces, we did Sam’s face, Zoe’s, and CCH Pounder, who played Zoe’s character’s mom. There’s a whole family… Because we wanted to capture them in the characters, but make the characters still emphasize the animal and the alien. The idea was, when we go to meet the future mother- and father-in-law, we want them to be scary and freaky. So the older Na’Vi are a little stranger than the younger Navi.
But we never asked ourselves the question, What if people won’t accept it? I think that’s the huge advantage of actually being a geek/fan yourself, but you just don’t ask yourself questions like that. I mean, the studio guys — god love ’em, they signed up to write a big check for this movie. They backed our play 100%, all the way down the line. They would ask questions like, “Do they need to be blue?” “Do they need to have a tail?” things like that. And I thought, “Well, yeah, course they do.”
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