The Rise of a Younger Generation
Every so often films will provide breakout roles for one or two of our new favorite actors; sometimes portrayed in more serious films, and sometimes in lighthearted ones. But rarely do we get young stars who are allowed to tackle more adult content in major motion pictures—and getting seven of them all at once is even more rare. James Cameron, however, has given us something to look forward to, as it was announced this week that Avatar 2 will build up its cast to feature seven young actors.
The gifted group of Avatar stars include Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, and Trinity Bliss, who will play the three children of Neytiri and Jake. Bailey Bass, Filip Geljo, and Duane Evans, Jr. will appear as members of the Metkayina clan, and Jack Champion will be playing a human teenager. Amidst excited chatter around these additions, Avatarproducer Jon Landau noted:
“We never had this youthful element before, and that brings a different kind of energy to the film...They represent the future generation of Pandora and play a very significant role — not just in this movie but throughout all the movies.”
The film already has three more follow-ups set for production with a budget of over $1 billion. Not only does this look good for the seven young cast members joining the franchise, but it also looks hopeful to even younger actors.
Most of the new cast will be fairly fresh on set, but quite a few of them already have some impressive credits under their belts. Geljo previously played a main character on the children's show Odd Squad, Flatters had a part on the TV show Liar, and Dalton will be appearing in Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One set to release next year.
A Need for Youth
Hollywood is in need of a strong, youth-lead mature film. Truthfully, the media and entertainment industry are not always allies for children; generally speaking, youth on television and in movies are often portrayed as being problematic. Media consumed by children often sets the stage for how they behave and the expectations they have for the world—specifically how they are viewed and treated. Thus, negative portrayal can influence negative behavior and a pessimistic outlook on themselves and on society.
It's rare to find a significant number of younger actors appearing in what can be considered adult-focused films; but this is a good thing. There was a similar phenomenon with the release of Muschietti's R-rated It this year, which proved that a shockingly young group of actors were able to handle mature content and more complicated plot lines. The same can be said for the series Stranger Things, released on Netflix last summer. As we saw, the cast was mostly made up of a youthful bunch, but it certainly did not make older crowds shy away from it; in fact, it was a major hit and the second season is set to release next month.
The casts of Stranger Things and It were a reminder that humor, bravery, love, and strength don't always need to be preserved for "mature" actors. If Landau's statement is any indication of what's to come, then it seems we can expect Cameron's Avatarsequel to allow the young cast to do some heavy lifting with more complex narratives.
Younger generations need to be represented by people of their age, and a responsible depiction will have positive impact on their audience. This means more powerful statements being made to younger crowds, and allowing older audiences to shake their often negative view of youth. The group that has joined the cast of Avatar 2 is a symbol of intelligence and diversity, and should be favorable among a wide span of audiences.
Avatar 2 is set to release December 18, 2020. Until then, keep your eyes peeled for more incredible young actors breaking out into the scene.
Brittany K. King is a Chicago-based writer and founder of Film Daddy. She spends most of her time avoiding saying the word ‘gyro’ out loud.
Follow Brittany on Twitter @brittanykking.