The cast of “Avatar”: Where are they now?

Over a decade after Jake first met Neytiri, Entertainment Weekly revisits the forests of Pandora.

<p>Courtesy Everett Collection</p>  Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña in

Courtesy Everett Collection

Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña in 'Avatar'

When Avatar premiered in December 2009, many wondered what to make of James Cameron's expensive 3-D environmental epic. Would the battle for the mineral rights of the fictional Pandora resonate with audiences? Or would it be a box office disaster? As the writer-director proved once again 13 years later with the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, never bet against Cameron.

Avatar soared past the $2 billion mark, becoming the highest-grossing movie ever and launching the careers of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña to new heights. The story follows a human soldier (Worthington) who syncs with a bioengineered avatar to infiltrate an alien tribe but then falls in love with its princess (Saldaña). Despite briefly losing its top spot to 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, a rerelease ahead of its sequel propelled it back to No. 1. With Avatar 3, 4, and 5 on the horizons, fans can anticipate more tales of the Na'vi for the next several years. 

As we patiently wait for more sequels, now is a good time to catch up with the original Avatar cast.

Sam Worthington (Cpl. Jake Sully)

<p>Courtesy Everett Collection; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images</p> Cpl. Jake Sully; Sam Worthington

Courtesy Everett Collection; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Cpl. Jake Sully; Sam Worthington

One-time bricklayer Sam Worthington burst onto the international stage with his portrayal of a man with paraplegia, former Marine–turned–Na’vi protector, Jake Sully.

The actor who would go on to lead one of the greatest action romances of all time described his first encounter with his costar — and it played out like a scene out of Avatar’s first act, as the pair had a bit of a communication issue. “I said…'Can I meet the person that you want to play Neytiri? Because I'd like to audition with them. I think that will help me get the part,'" Worthington told PEOPLE. "So I met Zoe [Saldaña], wooed her, charmed her, and then found out a bit later that she had no idea what I was saying. She couldn't understand my accent."

Before landing his breakout role, the Aussie actor had appeared in films like Hart's War (2002) and Terminator Salvation (2009) — a franchise also created by James Cameron — and earned an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts award for Best Actor for his work in the 2004 film Somersault.

After Avatar, he filmed two adventures in the saga of mythological hero Perseus, Clash of the Titans (2010) and Wrath of the Titans (2012); worked with Jessica Chastain in The Debt (2010); costarred with Andrew Garfield in Hulu's 2022 true crime miniseries Under the Banner of Heaven; and worked alongside Kevin Hart in Netflix's heist comedy Lift (2024). After a lengthy hiatus from Pandora, the actor returned to the franchise that made him a household name in the 2022 sequeland it looks like he’ll be staying in the Alpha Centauri system awhile, as he’s slated to star in Avatar 3, 4, and 5.

Worthington has been married to model Lara Bingle since 2014, and the pair share three children. During their first year of marriage, the couple became involved in a physical altercation with a paparazzo that led to a long legal dispute which was resolved out of court in 2015.

Zoe Saldaña (Neytiri)

<p>Courtesy Everett Collection; MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images</p> Neytiri; Zoe Saldaña

Courtesy Everett Collection; MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images

Neytiri; Zoe Saldaña

Zoe Saldaña brings her ballet-honed physicality to Neytiri, the fierce Na’vi warrior who becomes Jake’s guide and lover.

“When it comes to Neytiri, it's more of a practice," Saldaña told Entertainment Weekly at CinemaCon in 2022. "It's months of training, not just rehearsing with your director, but training with movement coaches, and traveling to the jungle and getting to feel what it's like to make your own food with all the elements that are around you."

Raised in New York City and the Dominican Republic, Saldaña initially studied dance, and the skills she learned helped the actress land her first film role as aspiring ballerina Eva in the performing arts drama Center Stage (2000). Bigger parts in the Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads (2002) and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) soon followed, and six years and a handful of credits later, she began to cement her title as the Queen of Space with the dual release in 2009 of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek and Avatar.

Since defending Pandora, she reprised her role as Uhura in Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016), suited up as Gamora for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy (2014, 2017, 2023), and played the character in both the third and fourth Avengers films. (Thanks to her roles in the latter two, she is the only performer to star in four of the top-grossing films of all time: Avatar, Avatar: The Way of Water, 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.) In 2023, the actress joined Nicole Kidman in the Taylor Sheridan series Special Ops: Lioness for Paramount+. Along with returning for the next three Avatar sequels, Saldaña is slated to star alongside Selena Gomez in Jacques Audiard's musical crime comedy, Emilia Pérez.

Since 2013, Saldaña has been married to Italian artist Marco Perego, with whom she shares three children: twin sons Cy and Bowie and son Zen.

Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Grace Augustine)

<p>Courtesy Everett Collection; Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images</p> Dr. Grace Augustine; Sigourney Weaver

Courtesy Everett Collection; Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Dr. Grace Augustine; Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver was no stranger to alien encounters or the imagination of James Cameron before playing Dr. Grace Augustine — head of the AVTR program and respected xenobiologist — in Avatar. The legendary O.G. action hero had gone toe-to-toe with both in 1986’s Aliens (the follow-up to her breakout turn as Ellen Ripley in Ridley Scott's 1979 original, Alien), receiving an Oscar nomination in the process. The 1980s were a particularly fruitful decade for the star thanks to turns in the first two Ghostbusters movies (1984, 1989), and dual Academy Award nods in 1989 for Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl.

After Avatar, she won a Grammy Award for narrating the audiobook The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book), and has since gone on to receive numerous award nominations for her work on TV and in film — including an Emmy nod for narrating the episode "Ocean Giants" on the docuseries Secrets of the Whales. Weaver also menaced Marvel heroes as the villainous Alexandra in Netflix's The Defenders; delighted fans with a cameo appearance in Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021); and starred in the 2023 Amazon Prime Video miniseries The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. In a surprise, she returned to the Avatar franchise in The Way of Water, but this time around, the veteran actress portrayed the 14-year-old adopted daughter of Jake and Neytiri.

Ahead of the Avatar sequel, she described the ongoing franchise — which she’ll continue to be a part of, having signed on through Avatar 5 — to EW as “the most ambitious project by far I've ever been involved in, and the most moving, the most astonishing, beautiful…I think all of us who get to be a part of it are just in awe.”

Weaver has been married to director Jim Simpson since 1984, and they have one child, Char, who identifies as non-binary.

Michelle Rodriguez (Trudy Chacón)

<p>Everett Collection; Jesse Grant/Getty Images</p> Trudy Chacón; Michelle Rodriguez

Everett Collection; Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Trudy Chacón; Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez gives flight to heroic transport pilot Trudy Chacón, a human operative of the Resources Development Administration sympathetic to the plight of the Na’vi.

“As soon as they said [James Cameron’s] name, I was like, ‘Whatever that guy wants,'" Rodriguez told EW in 2010. "I was like, ‘Man, I’ll serve your coffee!’”

By the time filming began, Rodriguez was already a pro at handling physically demanding, high-octane action parts. After her breakout role in the 2000 boxing drama Girlfight, followed by S.W.A.T. (2003), she went on to headline the long-running, multi-billion-dollar grossing The Fast and the Furious franchise as ride-or-die street racer Letty Ortiz.

Following Avatar, she continued to portray Letty in the Fast saga, finished her five-year run as Ana Lucia on Lost, and notably starred in the film Battle Los Angeles (2011). Rodriguez added yet another badass role to her résumé as the barbarian Holga in 2023’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Despite James Cameron’s interest in bringing Trudy back for the Avatar sequel, she declined, stating that it would diminish her character’s sacrifice in the first Avatar film and feel like “overkill.”

Although the actress has been briefly linked to Zac Efron and Cara Delevingne in the past, she bluntly told EW in 2013: “I don’t talk about what I do with my vagina.… I’ve gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too f---ing curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks.”

Stephen Lang (Col. Miles Quaritch)

<p>Everett Collection; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images</p> Col. Miles Quaritch; Stephen Lang

Everett Collection; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Col. Miles Quaritch; Stephen Lang

Long before his quest for unobtainium as Col. Miles Quaritch, the brutal head of the RDA’s security force, Stephen Lang had an extensive résumé with credits for the films Manhunter (1986), Gettysburg (1993), and Tombstone (1993). He also served as co-artistic director of the famed Actors Studio for two years. In a twist of fate, the Tony-nominated actor read for multiple roles in James Cameron’s Aliens, and despite not landing a part in the final film, he stayed on the director’s radar. That early audition paid off 20 years later when he was cast as the Avatar villain.

"Jim Cameron remembered that audition very specifically, and he chapter-and-versed that audition to me later on," he told Rolling Stone in 2022. "So, in a way, I view getting Avatar as the longest callback in the history of film."

In the time since, he has amassed dozens of film and TV credits, including starring in the hit Don’t Breathe horror franchise (2016, 2022) and the Sandra Bullock action rom-com The Lost City (2022). He received the Empire State Archives and History Award in 2018 for his contributions to advancing “the understanding and uses of history in society,” thanks to his work narrating both the audio tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, and the 2013 accompanying documentary, The Gettysburg Story. He returned for Avatar: The Way of Water and will once again reprise his role for the follow-up films.

Since 1980, Lang has been married to Kristina Watson, with whom he shares four children.

Giovanni Ribisi (Parker Selfridge)

<p>Everett Collection; Frazer Harrison/WireImage</p> Parker Selfridge; Giovanni Ribisi

Everett Collection; Frazer Harrison/WireImage

Parker Selfridge; Giovanni Ribisi

Giovanni Ribisi plays the film’s other villain, Parker Selfridge, an RDA executive willing to do anything to get his hands on Pandora’s reserves of unobtanium. Ribisi not only fictionally oversaw the AVTR Program in the movie but was also a real-world partner in the company Stereo D, which helped convert the film's images to 3-D.

“Here it finally was. Somebody made a full-length feature film of epic proportions, creating a universe you could explore all on the computer, and I definitely wanted to be able to understand and work with that," He told TIME in 2009. "All these companies did demos, trying to hop on board, and then we won the contract. And Jim [Cameron] didn’t even know anything about the fact that we were trying to compete for this.”

Before joining the cast of Avatar, Ribisi was most familiar to audiences for his recurring role as Phoebe’s (Lisa Kudrow) brother, Frank Buffay Jr., on Friends, and his Emmy-nominated guest turn on My Name Is Earl. He also starred in the hit heist movie Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie, as well as in the films The Gift (2000), Boiler Room (2000), and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004).

After Avatar premiered, he appeared in several films, like the 2012 comedy hit Ted (and its 2015 sequel), before returning to television in series such as Sneaky Pete and The Offer. Ribisi revisited the world of the Na’vi 13 years later for the 2022 sequel Avatar: The Way of Water.

The actor has been married twice, first to actress Mariah O’Brien — with whom he shares a daughter, Lucia Santina — and then to model Agyness Deyn. He now has fraternal twins, son Enzo and daughter Maude, with interior designer Emily Ward, whom he has been dating since 2017.

Laz Alonso (Tsu’tey)

<p>Everett Collection; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images</p> Tsu’tey; Laz Alonso

Everett Collection; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images

Tsu’tey; Laz Alonso

Laz Alonso is Tsu’tey, the strongest warrior of the Omaticaya clan and Neytiri's intended mate.

With the audition process being so long, Alonso said that, at one point, he forgot he had even read for it. “I went in, in June of ‘06, and I didn’t hear anything until November," he told Collider in 2009. "I had forgotten about Avatar and then, all of a sudden, I got a call from my agent, who said, ‘You’re one of three, and you’re his top choice, so you’ve gotta go in and nail it.’”

Prior to his role as the proud Na’vi fighter, he was the host of the series NYLA on BET. He soon transitioned from hosting to acting, appearing in the Jake Gyllenhaal military drama Jarhead (2005), and playing the villainous Fenix Calderon in the fourth installment in the Fast saga, Fast & Furious (2009).

Following Avatar, he worked on a number of TV shows like Breakout Kings and The Mysteries of Laura, before finding great success as the “Supe” hunter, Mother’s Milk, on Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys. Alonzo also appeared in the action crime/thriller Wrath of Man (2021).

CCH Pounder (Mo’at)

<p>20th Century Fox/ Everett; Dia Dipasupil/Getty</p> Mo’at; CCH Pounder

20th Century Fox/ Everett; Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Mo’at; CCH Pounder

CCH Pounder plays Mo’at, Neytiri’s mother and the spiritual leader of the Omaticaya clan who has a psychic connection to the Na’vi deity, Eywa.

“It was one of the great experiences.… The chemistry was terrific ‘cause I think all of the actors are sort of actors’ actors," she told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. "Beyond the special effects and the incredible look, I think we started off with a really good script and a really good story."

Pounder was already a familiar face to viewers thanks to her lengthy career in television on shows like ER and The Shield. She also voiced Amanda Waller on Justice League Unlimited, among an extensive list of animated works.

After Avatar, she continued playing Waller for DC; wrapped her seven-season gig as Dr. Loretta Wade on NCIS: New Orleans in 2021; and appeared in other projects like Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019), Full Circle, and Rustin (2023). Like many of her Avatar castmates, she returned for 2022’s Avatar: The Way of Water, and will reprise her role in Avatar 3 and beyond. She will also be seen in Amazon Prime Video’s limited series Anansi Boys, adapted from the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name.

Pounder was married to her husband, Boubacar Kone, for more than four decades until he died in 2016. They welcomed three children together.

Joel David Moore (Dr. Norm Spellman)

<p>20th Century Fox; Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty</p> Dr. Norm Spellman; Joel David Moore

20th Century Fox; Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty

Dr. Norm Spellman; Joel David Moore

Before arriving on Pandora as Dr. Norm Spellman — an anthropologist who studies under Dr. Augustine and serves as one of the original avatar drivers — Joel David Moore’s breakthrough film role was as Owen in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004). In 2008, he began recurring as Colin Fisher on the hit Fox drama Bones. He also starred in and directed the 2007 thriller Spiral.

Post-Avatar, Moore continued to appear on Bones through its final season. He has directed several more features — including 2016’s Youth in Oregon and 2023's Some Other Women — and played Joey Ramone in CBGB (2013). He reprised Dr. Spellman for Avatar: The Way of Water and will continue to play him in the upcoming sequels.

Moore is married to Katherine Braham, and they have a son, Ollie, and a daughter, Esme. In fact, Ollie made his big screen debut at 3 months old as Jake and Neytiri’s newborn son in a flashback scene in The Way of Water. Moore told PEOPLE that seeing his son on set made him so emotional that he and his wife “were just both bubbling with tears.”

Wes Studi (Eytukan)

<p>20th Century Fox/ Everett; Amanda Edwards/Getty</p> Eytukan; Wes Studi

20th Century Fox/ Everett; Amanda Edwards/Getty

Eytukan; Wes Studi

The Omaticaya warrior chief, husband to Mo’at and father to Neytiri, is brought to life by seasoned actor Wes Studi.

However, working on Avatar came with many difficulties for the Native American actor. "That world's language, for one, was fairly difficult in that it's a made-up language. It also remind[ed me] that all these things were a very real thing to my ancestors," he told HuffPost. "And then, in a way, we're reminded that indigenous cultures many times fall under the manifest destiny of those who would gain something from our suppression."

Studi, a Vietnam War veteran, first got on Hollywood’s radar with supporting performances in Dances With Wolves (1990) and The Last of the Mohicans (1992). By the time he joined the cast of James Cameron’s environmental epic, he had added several more noteworthy credits to his repertoire, including the lead role in Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) and an appearance in the Al Pacino/Robert De Niro classic Heat (1995). Other notable projects include Deep Rising (1998) and Mystery Men (1999).

His work life post-Avatar has continued to thrive, particularly on TV, with turns on the horror series Penny Dreadful and the FX comedy Reservation Dogs. In 2019, he became the first Indigenous actor to receive an honorary Academy Award. Though he did not return for The Way of Water, Studi is set to appear in Avatar 3.

He has been married to his second wife, actress and singer Maura Dhu Studi, since 1990, and the couple has a son, Kholan. The duo performs and tours together as part of the band Firecat of Discord. Studi has two children, Leah and Daniel, from a previous marriage.

Matt Gerald (Cpl. Lyle Wainfleet)

<p>20th Century Fox; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p> Cpl. Lyle Wainfleet; Matt Gerald

20th Century Fox; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Cpl. Lyle Wainfleet; Matt Gerald

Matt Gerald plays Cpl. Lyle Wainfleet — an RDA mercenary and loyal supporter of Miles Quaritch — who fought against the Na’vi during the assault on the Tree of Souls.

"[James Cameron] is so specific in his vision and it's really freeing to know that you're in good hands with Jim, and that you could be part of his tapestry and trust that he's getting everything he needs from you," he told The Hollywood Reporter at the 2022 The Way of Water premiere of working with Avatar's director. "So that's quite reassuring to know as an actor and I appreciate him for that."

Prior to the fight for Pandora, he played Tommy Hisk on The Shield alongside fellow Avatar actor CCH Pounder. He also went toe-to-toe with Ice Cube in XXX: State of the Union (2005).

After the film’s success, he showed up in two episodes of Dexter. Gerald then appeared in the 2015 film San Andreas; joined the Netflix corner of the MCU as Melvin Potter on Daredevil; and appeared on Avatar costar Zoe Saldaña’s Paramount+ series Special Ops: Lioness. He returned to the role of Wainfleet in 2022 to menace the Na’vi again in Avatar: The Way of Water. He is expected to come back for the series' next three installments.

In 2015, Gerald married his long-time girlfriend, Camille Natalia, with whom he has two kids.

Dileep Rao (Dr. Max Patel)

<p>20th Century Fox; Frazer Harrison/WireImage</p> Dr. Max Patel; Dileep Rao

20th Century Fox; Frazer Harrison/WireImage

Dr. Max Patel; Dileep Rao

Dileep Rao is Dr. Max Patel, the RDA scientist responsible for synching the human drivers with their Avatar host bodies.

"It's a visionary work — like Jim Cameron and all the technicians, crew, artists, everyone who works on it — but I think these movies are made for the fans," Rao told Hollywood Insider of the franchise during a The Way of Water red carpet interview in 2022. "If it doesn't matter to them, it doesn't matter, right? It's been very gratifying to see how much people love the movie, how much they love the story."

Before Avatar, he only had a handful of onscreen roles, most notably in the Sam Raimi horror film Drag Me to Hell (2009). In addition to his acting credits, Rao was also a one-time Jeopardy! champion, and won just over $34,000 during the show’s 18th season in 2002.

In the time since the first Avatar, Rao appeared in Christopher Nolan’s twisty blockbuster heist movie Inception (2010) and guest starred opposite Rami Malek on Mr. Robot, before returning for The Way of Water. He will be back for Avatar 4.

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