Exclusive: Edward Norton explains how refusing work on Avatar 2 led to his Alita: Battle Angel cameo

(Image credit: Fox)

Alita: Battle Angel (opens in new tab) may not have blown the box-office away upon release, but fans have every hope that a sequel may arrive someday. Director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron have both stated that – should the first movie make enough money – a second movie is in the pipeline. 

Of course, Edward Norton's cameo in Alita: Battle Angel heavily hinted at a sequel already being in mind. The actor briefly appeared in a non-speaking role as Nova, an immortal mad scientist able to transfer his conscience into other people. But, how exactly did that A-list cameo come about? Our sister publication Total Film (opens in new tab) put that question to Norton, who was promoting his new movie Motherless Brooklyn.

"I am friends with Jim [Cameron], and actually enormously admire and kind of adore him... So when he wanted me to do something in Avatar 2, I basically told him, 'If I’m not a Na’vi, I’m not doing it. I’m not being part of the industrial world, coming in to destroy Pandora. I’m either a Na’vi or nothing.' 

"He was like, 'OK, maybe in 3, 4 or 5, then.' In the meantime, he asked, 'Well, do you know Robert [Rodriguez]?' I was like, 'Whatever. Let’s do something. I want to do something with him.'"

So, there you have it – Norton's refusal to play a human invader in Avatar 2 led to his cameo in Alita: Battle Angel. And should that second Alita finally come about, Norton will surely be back as Nova once more.

Norton went on to discuss Motherless Brooklyn as well as his time on Fight Club and his alternate plans for The Hulk (opens in new tab). You can read the entire interview in the latest issue of Total Film magazine (opens in new tab) , available on store shelves October 18. Meanwhile, Motherless Brooklyn reaches cinemas November 22.

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Editor-in-Chief, Total Film

Jane Crowther is the Editor of Total Film magazine and the Editor-in-Chief of the Film Group here at Future Plc, which covers Total Film, SFX, and numerous TV and women's interest brands. Jane is also the vice-chair of The Critics' Circle and a BAFTA member. You'll find Jane on GamesRadar+ exploring the biggest movies in the world and living up to her reputation as one of the most authoritative voices on film in the industry.