Live-action ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ unveils cast; Filipino-Canadian Gordon Cormier to play Aang
The live-action adaptation of the beloved animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (“A:TLA”) has finally introduced the cast playing Team Avatar.
Filipino-Canadian Gordon Cormier will be taking on the lead role of the Avatar himself, Aang, who is described as “a fearless and fun-loving [12-year-old] who just happens to be the Avatar, master of all four elements and the keeper of balance and peace in the world.”
“An airbending prodigy, Aang is a reluctant hero, struggling to deal with the burden of his duties while still holding on to his adventurous and playful nature,” Netflix said of Aang in a release yesterday, Aug. 12.
Kiawentiio Tarbell will, meanwhile, play the 14-year-old Katara, “a determined and hopeful waterbender, the last in her small village.”
Although she is young, Katara has “already endured a great personal tragedy, which has held her back from rising to her true potential, though it’s never dimmed her warm and caring spirit,” the streaming service said.
Ian Ousley will be playing Katara’s 16-year-old brother Sokka, who is described thus, “Outwardly confident, even brash, he takes his responsibility as the leader of his tribe seriously, despite his inner doubts over his warrior skills… doubts that he masks with his wit and deadpan sense of humor. ”
Dallas Liu will play the 17-year-old Zuko, “a skilled firebender and the intense and guarded Crown Prince of the Fire Nation.”
Staying true to the original series, Zuko is said to be “vurrently roaming the world in exile” and is “on an obsessive quest to capture the Avatar because he believes that is the only way to reclaim his life and live up to the demands of his cruel and controlling father, the Fire Lord.”
In the release, showrunner, executive producer and writer Albert Kim (“Sleepy Hollow”) revealed that while he thinks the animated series is “complete,” today’s filmmaking technology may be able to tell the story on another level.
“My first thought was, ‘Why? What is there I could do or say with the story that wasn’t done or said in the original?” A:TLA had only grown in popularity and acclaim over the last decade and a half, which is a testament to how complete and resonant a narrative experience it had been. So if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” he shared.
“But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became. VFX technology has advanced to the point where a live-action version can not only faithfully translate what had been done in animation — it can bring a rich new visual dimension to a fantastic world. We’ll be able to see bending in a real and visceral way we’ve never seen before,” Kim added.
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While the character descriptions match those of the characters seen in the beloved Nickelodeon series, it is still unclear how much of the original show will translate into the live-action adaptation.
Original “A:TLA” creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko were initially tapped to be producers and showrunners of the adaptation in 2018, and actually ended up working on the show for two years.
Last year, however, DiMartino revealed that they “made the difficult decision to leave the production” due to creative differences on where the live-action series will go.
“A:TLA” aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. Prior to the upcoming series, the show was first adapted into a live-action one by M. Night Shyamalan in 2010 with “The Last Airbender.” The adaptation flopped and was heavily criticized for apparently straying away from the characteristics of the original series and for “whitewashing” the cast. /ra