HOLLYWOOD — Forget about Indy whatever and Batman whatchamacallit, because everybody knows that the hardest-to-acquire movie news these days regards "Avatar," the top-secret sci-fi flick that is finally bringing James Cameron back to theaters after a 12-year "Titanic"-inspired hiatus.
Cameron recently allowed actor Laz Alonso to run loose for a few hours so he could attend the premiere of his film "Captivity" and, naturally, we threatened to strap him down to one of the torture chairs inside the event unless he talked to us about Cameron's flick.
"It's going great man, I mean the guy deserves every great thing that's been said about him as far as his creativity," the "Stomp the Yard" actor said of the shoot. "We work really hard, and he's really passionate, and we're really excited about what we're doing. May 2009 is a long time away, but we just feel the fever right now — it's alive."
Rumors say that the film is about a paraplegic war veteran traveling to another planet on a diplomatic mission. It involves the environment, technology, and aliens — but Alonso wasn't eager to contribute much beyond that, insisting that he's not even allowed to describe his character.
"I had to sign something that swore me to secrecy; to be honest with you, I don't know what I'm allowed to talk about or not — so just to be on the safe side, I ain't saying jack," he shrugged. "But, it's just a sci-fi movie that's going to blow your socks off."
This much we do know: From "The Abyss" to "Terminator 2," Cameron loves to unveil new technology with his films. The filmmaker has already confirmed that the flick is being shot in 3-D and will combine live-action and computer-generated characters and environments (see " 'Titanic' Mastermind James Cameron's King-Size Comeback: Two Sci-Fi Trilogies").
"The technology that he's using is something that hasn't been done before, the way that he's doing it," Alonso said before naming a few of the VIP guests that have swung by the set. "When you see guys like Marilyn Manson coming through, and Peter Jackson and Spielberg coming through to see what this new cutting-edge technology is, you know you really have something special going on."
"What we're seeing right now as far as technology is level one," he said of today's blockbusters. "What you'll be seeing when this movie comes out is roughly like a level 20."
Alonso revealed that he's been working opposite several veteran actors, and is about to start filming scenes Cameron's "Alien" leading lady. "I actually will be working with Sigourney Weaver next week — she's been in New York finishing up a project," he explained about the actress (see "Sigourney Weaver Reunites With James Cameron For 'Avatar' "). "She's onboard until the end of the picture, so we'll be working together for the next few months."
"Zoe Saldana plays my counterpart, Sam Worthington plays the lead," he said of the actors he's worked opposite. "CCH Pounder, Peter Mensah, Wes Studi ... it's a really dynamic cast, people from all different types of backgrounds. The majority of us though have done theater, so you can tell that Jim likes to work with a lot of theater actors."
Reflecting on the performance of "The Shield" star Pounder, Alonso said: "Oh man, when she comes on, and when you see her in the movie — you'll know it," he grinned. "[Her character] has this very regal presence about her. When she steps on set, you know she's arrived. [Pounder] fits very, very well with her character."
Finally, Alonso revealed that he has not been privy to Cameron's shoots in New Zealand or Hawaii, but has instead spent most of his time in front of a green screen in Playa Vista, California. "I'm primarily here in the States; we're doing it here in Los Angeles on a soundstage," the actor said. "For the purpose of this film, when you work in a digital environment, you can pretty much create whatever it is that you want. We do have that freedom to stay in one place for our section.
"The world is our oyster."
Check out everything we've got on "Avatar."
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