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

(Image credit: Fox)

Alita: Battle Angel 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 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. You can read the entire interview in the latest issue of Total Film magazine , available on store shelves October 18. Meanwhile, Motherless Brooklyn reaches cinemas November 22.

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(Image credit: Future)

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Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.