By Zach Johnson
Before 20th Century Studios’ Avatar: The Way of Water opens exclusively in theaters on Friday, December 16, D23: The Official Disney Fan Club is introducing five new characters. Each day this week, visit D23.com for an exclusive interview with actors Jamie Flatters, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Jack Champion, Bailey Bass, and Sigourney Weaver.
In James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, Bailey Bass stars as Tsireya, daughter of Metkayina clan leaders Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and Ronal (Kate Winslet). After making the long journey across the vast oceans of Pandora, the Sullys seek shelter from the Metkayina clan. Jake (Sam Worthington) invokes Uturu, a Na’vi tradition stating that any refugee seeking sanctuary must be granted safe harbor. Reluctantly welcoming their guests, Ronal and Tonowari instruct Tsireya and her brother, Aonung (Filip Geljo), to help the Sully kids adapt to the water clan’s customs and traditions. Tsireya’s ties to her family are tested once Jake and Neytiri’s son, Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), enters her life. In outtakes from Disney twenty-three, the publication available exclusively to Gold and Gold Duo Members, Bass opens up about her role, working with A-list stars, and more.
D23: How does it feel to make your feature film debut in Avatar: The Way of Water?
Bailey Bass (BB): Wow. Hearing it like that makes it feel so real! I’ve always known I wanted to be an actor, so to get to live the dream and work with people who truly love the craft of acting is incredible. I’m extremely grateful and thrilled to be a part of the Avatar franchise.
D23: How would you describe your character? How are you similar to her?
BB: Tsireya is kind and warm. She sees people for the best of who they are. I tend to be the optimist in my family and try to sympathize with people, because we never know what someone is going through. Fortunately, Jim hired actors who have a lot of similarities to their characters, which made stepping into the world of Pandora easier.
D23: The Metkayina clan lives in harmony with their surrounding oceans. Did you get scuba-certified like other actors—and if so, what did the process entail?
BB: Yes, I did—and in Hawaii of all places! I remember the captain of the boat we were using during scuba certification telling me, “This is an incredible place to get certified. I got certified in a mucky lake.” Britain and I got to swim through reefs. There was even a rare sighting of a 4-foot shark and whale together. We snorkeled near them!
D23: How else did you prepare for your role?
BB: There was a lot of training involved in the preparation for filming. We spent months working on everything from freediving, to parkour, to dialect—even going out and swimming in Hawaii was part of it. Jim wanted the cast who was part of the Metkayina clan to remember what the sand felt like, the way the salt water waves glided against our skin, the way the ocean and the animals in it lived in harmony. He gave us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in it so that when we stepped onto the gray soundstage a couple weeks later, we could imagine and visualize Pandora in a real way.
D23: What was it like filming the second and third films simultaneously?
BB: On any given day we could be filming scenes from the middle of the second film and then cut and shoot a scene from the beginning of the third film. It was a very supportive set, led by Jim Cameron. He was our anchor, so I always felt like I knew what I was doing.
D23: How does Avatar: The Way of Water lead into the events of the third film?
BB: We introduce a lot of new characters in Avatar: The Way of Water and really take the time to show who they are. Leading into Avatar 3, we built a foundation to explore all the places Pandora has to offer and get to explore the characters more along that journey.
D23: What do you hope Disney fans take away from Avatar: The Way of Water?
BB: I’m a Disney fan myself, and there’s this feeling we get when watching a Disney film or stepping into a Disney park... and that feeling is magic. Disney creates an escape like no other, one that’s often filled with feeling and hope. So, I hope fans fall in love with the magic throughout Avatar: The Way of Water—the magic in the characters, the magic in their homes, and the environments around them.