Nine months after “Avatar” first came out and Stephen Lang found himself in the middle of a globe-blanketing PR campaign, the 58-year-old actor is getting a kick out of doing it all over again.
Following the $2.4 billion success of its original release, James Cameron’s “Avatar” is headed back to theaters on Friday, and Lang is back doing the interview circuit, amiable as always, in stark contrast to his scenery-chewing, do-not-cross-me villain in the 3-D blockbuster, Colonel Miles Quaritch. Stopping by the MTV newsroom recently, Lang chatted about the new footage in the “Avatar” special edition , how his career has changed in the last year and some of the crazy fans he encounters these days.
MTV: How’s it feel to be back in the world of Pandora?
Stephen Lang: Everybody’s entitled to a victory lap! Above and beyond that, there has been this hankering for more information about this world that Jim created, and Jim is responsive to that and excited to bring back some of the footage it was probably painful for him to cut in the first place.
MTV: Have you gone back and seen the new footage?
Lang: Yesterday, I viewed all the new stuff. I was surprised at how emotional it was, just to re-enter the world and to be reminded what an extraordinary period in my life this has been. I’ve been doing other things and “Avatar” subsided for a while and it’s been a lot of fun for it to rise up again.
MTV: Is there any new footage from Colonel Quaritch to look forward to?
Lang: There are bits and pieces of me. There’s a little bit more of my fighting, there’s a little bit more of my black-heartedness. There’s still plenty of Quaritch scenes that are somewhere else.
MTV: Yeah, I know you guys filmed a ton of stuff way back when. Were you hoping any of that got picked and given the finishing treatment?
Lang: I think that several scenes like that may well be on the DVD that comes out with lots of additional things. What Jim wanted to do here is showcase the planet itself — the creatures, the landscape. You see some creatures that you hadn’t seen before, and they’re stunning. There’s a love scene.
MTV: I was going to ask you about that — the extended Na’vi sex scene.
Lang: There’s an extended Na’vi sex scene, but that doesn’t cover it. It’s a very sensual and sensitive and sort of erotic scene. It’s the ultimate blue movie, you dig what I’m saying? But there’s no sex scene between Quaritch and [Sigourney Weaver’s] Grace or anyone else, which is unfortunate.
MTV: How have things changed for you, personally and professionally, since the movie came out?
Lang: I don’t think that personally they’ve changed so much. I’m pretty set or formed. I’ve been kicking around a long time. I think I probably am happier than I was. I feel quite satisfied. I think every actor wants to be part of something that can be considered a piece of cinema in a significant way, and I feel that way with “Avatar.” I think professionally it certainly has goosed things for me. There are more interesting opportunities.
MTV: Are you getting a lot of the villain roles?
Lang: Some villains come across my desk. I read them. Of course, after doing Quaritch, who I admit is the villain of the piece, you tend to compare everything to that, and I don’t want to repeat myself, or I don’t want to do a pale reflection or imitation of myself. I like to think I have range as an actor. I’d really like to get the girl. And by “get the girl,” I don’t mean kill her!
MTV: Have you had any interactions with wacky fans? Anyone screaming at you on the street, “You’re not in Kansas anymore”?
Lang: I get a lot of people coming up to me and saying, “I really hate you.” And they say it in the nicest possible way and I accept it. It’s the people who come up to you and say, “I really liked your character. Man, he was right!” Those are the ones you worry about.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Avatar.”
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