James Cameron filmed Avatar sequels at the same time to avoid the "Stranger Things effect"

Avatar: The Way of Water
(Image credit: Disney)

James Cameron has revealed that one of the reasons he wanted to film the Avatar sequels back-to-back – that's Avatar: The Way of Water, Avatar 3, and some of Avatar 4 at the same time – was to avoid "the Stranger Things effect" where the child actors look much older than their characters. 

"Otherwise, you get – and I love Stranger Things – but you get the Stranger Things effect where they're supposed to still be in high school [but] they look like they're 27," Cameron said in a recent interview with EW. "You know, I love the show. It's okay, we'll suspend disbelief. We like the characters, but, you know."

Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, who plays the Sullys' youngest child Tuk in the Avatar sequels, was seven when she was cast and is now 13. Jack Champion, who plays the human Spider, was 12 when he was cast and is now 18 – and "growing like a weed," according to Cameron. 

Stranger Things season 1 was released in 2016 and season 4 came out in 2022. Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, was 12 years old when she was cast and is now 18 as she films season 5, while Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike, was 13 when he was cast and is now 19.

Set over a decade after the events of 2009's Avatar, the newly released sequel picks up with human-turned-Na'vi Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) living in domestic bliss with their four children, the war with humanity a distant memory. That is, until the RDA returns – with some familiar faces in tow.

Avatar: The Way of Water is in theaters now. For more viewing inspiration, check out our picks of the best upcoming movies in 2023 and beyond. 

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.