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Zoe Saldaña on how motherhood prepared her for ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’

Between 2009’s Avatar and its new sequel, The Way of Water, Zoe Saldaña became a mom — and not coincidentally, so did her Navi character Neytiri.

The Marvel movie veteran, now a mother of three, explains that brought a whole new meaning to the character for her, as now Neytiri and her husband, Sully, played by Sam Worthington, are fighting to keep their family alive amid a new threat to their planet, Pandora.

“In my personal life, when I became a parent, fear entered my realm,” Zoe said at a recent press event. “The fear of losing something that you love so much … and you just spend a great deal of your time creating these hypothetical scenarios that are just unimaginable.”

She adds, “When I read … the second script, that was her, that was Neytiri. I didn’t see it then. I see it now because my job wasn’t to see it. My job was to be it.”

Writer-director James Cameron, a father of four himself, agreed. “I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms, but that’s it. Exactly.”

Cameron expressed, “You may be fearless when you don’t have kids. You learn fear when you have kids, when you have something greater than yourself that you could lose. And that’s what both of your characters are dealing with.”

He continues, “You know, Sam plays a character that would go flying through the air with no parachute to land on the biggest, meanest predator on the planet to solve his problem; would he do that as a father of four?”

Cameron added with a laugh, “I’m thinking probably not.”

Avatar: The Way of Water is now in theaters, after an impressive $17 million sneak peek performance Thursday. It currently has a 94% Audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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