New Aang in 'Avatar' series is Filipino-Canadian Gordon Cormier

Meet Filipino-Canadian Gordon Cormier, lead of new ‘Avatar’ series

/ 05:43 PM February 22, 2024

New Aang in 'Avatar' series is Filipino-Canadian Gordon Cormier

Gordon Cormier as Aang in the live-action series “Avatar: The Next Airbender.”

The moment Filipino-Canadian actor Gordon Cormier was told he got the part of Aang — or the last living airbender in the live-action adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” — he made it a point to watch the original cartoon 26 times and more.

Cormier was born four years after the beloved animated series took the world by storm. But Aang navigating the four nations as the chosen Avatar was not only the focal point of its storyline. He was also surrounded by larger-than-life characters dealing with inner demons of their own, most of them with a hunger to take down the Fire Nation once and for all.


“When I booked the role, they pulled me in for a getting to know you thing — I didn’t have a personality test like my co-stars, but they pulled me with a few other people. They started talking and I had no idea what was going on,” he recalled during a press conference attended by Cormier was also joined by his co-star Dallas Liu who stars as Prince Zuko.


A younger Cormier was confused, as the producers said “they searched the whole world for Aang only to find him who lived 15 minutes away from the studio.” He initially thought that it was a “mean way” of informing him that he didn’t land the role of Aang.

“But then they said, you booked it, Gordon. And then there were a lot of tears, crying, and emotional words,” he said. Cormier was just 11 years old when he got to work breathing new life into who is possibly one of the most beloved animated characters of all time.

One of the highlights of the series was that of Aang coming to terms with being the Avatar — an incarnation of a spirit who has the sole ability to master the four elements. The responsibility is passed in order from Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. But for Cormier, taking on the “happy side” of his character was the easiest part.

“The happy side of Aang was quite easy for me because I feel like it was a little more difficult for me to tap into Aang’s emotional side, such as when he gets sad because of really sad stuff,” he said with a knowing smile, careful to not reveal a spoiler.

Gordon and Aang’s growth

A now 14-year-old Cormier believes that he, too, like Aang went through a lot of growth while filming. But he still maintained an easygoing personality, which makes him believe that he’s the one who’s most similar to his character.


“I feel like I’ve grown quite a bit but in the original series, it only takes place within three months. But you can see Aang growing as a person and even physically better,” he said. “Like you can see in Season 3 of the animated series, you wouldn’t say shredded, but he’s really scary.”

Gordon Cormier as Aang in a scene from "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Gordon Cormier as Aang in a scene from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

The actor also thanked Liu and his co-stars Kiawentiio (Katara) and Ian Ousley (Sokka) for being his family throughout filming as well. “You can really see how our relationships grew throughout the series.”

“Aang doesn’t know of these characters yet but you can tell from the second they met, they became family,” continued Cormier. “And that [mirrored] what happened in real life too.”

Liu then chimed in, saying the dynamic between Zuko and Aang felt “personal and intimate” as they went through their respective traumas and eventual growth throughout the series. His character started as a firebending master determined to capture Aang, but their relationship evolved into mutual respect.

“Thanks to this guy, he’s such a pro at such a young age,” said Liu while referring to Cormier. “Despite working those long hours, he did an amazing job. What I want to say is that in Aang and Zuko’s scenes, they’re much more personal and intimate because it feels like real people living in this fantasy world where it’s life and death.”

Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko in "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko in “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

Memorable experience

During the press conference, he said the moments between him and Cormier’s characters will be among the highlights. “Those moments between Zuko and Aang, I feel like people will truly relate to their relationship as crazy as it might sound.”

Cormier had a lot of “super memorable experiences” on his own, such as “lying down in a tiny saddle” on the back of Appa (or Aang’s sky bison) with Kiawentiio and Ousley. “Thirty minutes passed, we’re waiting out there and we’re all sleeping, we’re lying down in this tiny saddle and we’re really tired. We really bonded over that experience.”

“We had many fun stunts as well. There’s this one scene where I had this wire ring attached to my back and they had to pull me up within 50 feet super fast,” he continued. “That was scary. It was memorable but it was terrifying. The look on my face at the time was pretty accurate. I wasn’t even acting. I was just screaming and yelling.”

Gordon Cormier (leftmost) with Kiawentiio (Katara) and Ian Ousley (Sokka). Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Gordon Cormier (leftmost) with Kiawentiio (Katara) and Ian Ousley (Sokka).

What Gordon can learn from Dallas

Majority of Liu’s scenes were done with Paul Sun-Hyung Lee who starred as retired Fire Nation general Uncle Iroh. This made him “jealous” of the “camaraderie and friendship” his other co-stars shared, but he admired their ability to go beyond interpreting animated characters.

“They were able to do something that feels very grounded and you’re getting to see these real people interacting with these elements in this world,” he said.

Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko. Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko

When asked about words of wisdom to give Cormier, Liu zeroed in on the beauty of having a support network is important to survive knowing the “nature” of their industry. “Having a strong support system whether it’s your family, childhood friends, or even your own team. To have a strong base in your heart is extremely important.”

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“Especially with a fandom like ‘Avatar,’” he continued while facing Cormier. “Although most of us are supportive of what we’re doing, I hope that the people who are supporting you will lift you and give you strong words of affirmation. And continue to champion you through and through.”

The live-action adaptation also stars Elizabeth Yu, Daniel Dae Kim, and Ken Leung.

TAGS: Avatar the Last Airbender, Gordon Cormier, live-action adaptation

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