The 'Avatar' premiere: Behind the scenes with James Cameron, Laz Alonso and Matt Gerald
But then, long-lost director James Cameron needed the extra space: He brought along 40 relatives – including his parents, Shirley, 79, and Phillip, 80 -- to the lavish post-party at Hollywood & Highland to help him celebrate the launch of “Avatar,” his first film since 1997’s titanic “Titanic.” Police closed down the block of Hollywood Boulevard outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood for the occasion.Of course, this is no mere Christmas movie, and the buzz at the premiere was practically palpable.
“Avatar’s” stars were clearly excited to see how audiences would react to Cameron’s innovative use of performance-capture filmmaking to turn flesh-and-blood actors into expressive, believable members of the very blue, 10-foot-tall Na’vi tribe.
“Working with Jim feels like you’re in a laboratory, man,” said Laz Alonso, who plays the Na’vi warrior prince Tsu-tey in the film and sported a “Tsu-tey blue” shirt for the occasion.
“It feels like you’re in a laboratory watching Ben Franklin create a new lightbulb or something.”
Sounds pretty touchy-feely for a guy whom "Titanic” star Kate Winslet said she wouldn’t work with again unless she got “a lot of money.”
What was it really like to work with the king of the world (even it's a new world he made up, called Pandora)?
“You want some dirt, don’t you?” said Matt Gerald, who plays Cpl. Lyle Wainfleet, one of the humans bent on the Na’vis’ destruction.
Well, if you insist ...
“You want me to tell you he’s a tyrant and he’s unbearable?” Gerald said. “It was none of that for me.
"It was a very intense set, a lot of really passionate big brains that really know what they want, and sometimes emotions get the best of people, and people get heated, and I find that all a part of the creative process. To be a part of anything that’s considered great on any level is not for the thin-skinned, for sure.”
Cameron was certainly calm and measured as he steered his fifth wife, the waif-like actress Suzy Amis, down the red carpet. Despite the buzz over “Avatar’s” great leap forward in filmmaking technology, he downplayed his ambitions for the film and its impact on the industry.
“Look, I’m a techno-geek, and I love the innovative processes,” he said, “but I never put that before telling a story. I spend a lot of time in the writing; I spend a lot of time thinking about the characters.
“I don’t make a film to make a film. I just want to see a film. Once it’s in my head, I’ve just got to get it out on the screen. When I have all these images and these wonderful characters, I’ve got to go do it.”
– Irene Lacher
Photos: James Cameron and Suzy Amis on the blue carpet Wednesday in Hollywood, top. Middle right, click on the photo of Zoe Saldana for a photo gallery of stars' arrivals at the "Avatar" premiere. Bottom right, Laz Alonso arrives at the premiere. Credits: Matt Sayles / Associated Press, top; Kevin Winter / Getty Images, middle; Akira Suemori / Associated Press, bottom.