With James Cameron hard at work on his new Avatar sequels, producer Jon Landau has revealed the extent to which cast addition Kate Winslet went to pull off her new role.

Cameron, who is currently filming the first and second of the four planned follow-ups, had previously teased that his forthcoming return to the world of Pandora will explore “never before seen parts” which will primarily be set underwater. 

Considering this aspect of the next two films – Cameron attributed the sequels’ delay to spending over a year-and-a-half working out how to pull off underwater motion-capture technology – one scene required Winslet to be able to hold her breath for a staggering seven minutes, something the Oscar-winner nailed.

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Landau told Collider: “We built a water tank that was 500,000 gallons of water, and we are doing performance-capture under the water, on the surface of the water, and above the water. We trained our cast to free-breath-hold, because in the sequences they have to just be swimming, they can’t be on scuba, and they have to be able to do long takes. So we had a gentleman named Kirk Krack come in and train everybody that needed to be underwater how to go underwater and how to hold their breath.  

"Kate Winslet had to train in this and she got up to a static breath hold of just about seven minutes. It’s amazing, it’s mind over matter. You see Kate going underwater and she just felt so comfortable. There was one day, we have a tank where she was just rehearsing and testing and we have some windows into it, and I go in there and she’s just walking on the bottom [of the tank] left and right, left and right, left and right, then she sees me in the window and she just waves. I couldn’t believe it."

Having directed The Abyss and Titanic, Cameron is no stranger to water – however, he hinted these sequels could have been his most challenging shoot yet.

“Basically, whenever you add water to any problem, it just gets ten times harder. So, we’ve thrown a lot of horsepower, innovation, imagination and new technology at the problem, and it’s taken us about a year and a half now to work out how we’re going to do it,” he told Collider

The majority of underwater scenes will take place in the next two Avatar films with the fourth and fifth instalments written and scheduled to be released in 2024 and 2025.

Winslet will appear alongside returning stars Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang.

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