AIR, WATER, EARTH, FIRE: WHO’S IN THE WORLD OF THE LAST AIRBENDER

AANG
Played by Noah Ringer
Where You’ve Seen Him: Never, Aang is Ringer’s first acting role.
Character insight: “I’m Aang the Avatar – the peacemaker. I’m the fourth element – Air. It’s about family: every line, every sentence of this movie is all about family and how it can get stronger.”
On getting cast: “I never thought I would be here. I got the role from an open casting call. My tae kwon do instructor pulled it over from the internet and said, “May you’ve got to try out for this part. You look just like the character and you do martial arts.” We sent in a little DVD and two or three months later they called us back and we went to Philly. I got to meet Night and [producers] Sam [Mercer] and Frank [Marshall]. Night’s been a great guy from the beginning.

KATARA
Played by Nicola Peltz
Where You’ve Seen Her: Mackenzie in Deck the Halls
Character Insight: “I’m waterbender from the Southern water tribe. If you are waterbending, you have to imagine the water in your hand and Night really wants you to have emotion when you do the moves. You aren’t just doing moves, because if you lose concentration then the water can just drop. You have to have 100% focus. In the movie Master Pakku says, “Let your emotions flow like water.” I learned Kung fu is a force against force, and Tai Chi, which is waterbending, is using another person’s force against themselves.”

SOKKA
Played by Jackson Rathbone
Where You’ve Seen Him: Jasper Hale in The Twilight Saga
Character Insight: “Originally I auditioned about two years ago for Zuko so I got to meet with Night a year ago for that role. But then they called me back in to read for Sokka. It was a pleasant surprise because I really like doing comedy. I have that range with this character and he grows a lot throughout the series. I did a chemistry read with Nicola and Noah. It was amazing when we all got together it felt right. One of the main themes of this film is family. You have the good side with Katara and Sokka who are so connected to each other as brother and sister they would do anything for one another. And then they bring Aang into their family because he has no family and they go off on this quest to save the world. Then you have Zuko, who isn’t really a bad guy but in a bad situation trying to get his family back together. It’s the opposite spectrum of family. It’s a beautiful theme.”

UNCLE IROH
Played by Shaun Toub
Where You’ve Seen Him: Rahim Khan in The Kite Runner
Character Insight: “I play Uncle Iroh who I believe is the spiritual compass of the movie. He is the man who truly believes the world needs to stay in balance in order for us to survive. It’s interesting because I think it relates to our lives these days. He truly believes that by applying your power to conquer others it comes back and hurts you in the future because it causes the world to go out of balance. He is an ex general so he has seen a lot. He used to be a warrior. Surprisingly, he is very powerful but he doesn’t show it at all. He lost a son and now he is content with life. He believes life is to be enjoyed. His nephew Zuko has become like a son to him so he tries to keep an eye on him.

ZUKO
Played by Dev Patel
Where You’ve Seen Him: Jamal Malik in Slumdog Millionaire
Character Insight: “I’m firebender and I control fire. I can manipulate the element and use it to fight with in combat. The great thing about this film and why I wanted to do it is that you can express the way you’re feeling with the way you fight. A lot of this is physical acting and there’s a couple of fight scenes where I fight Noah, who plays the avatar, and the dynamic with that is so different, because I’m fighting with aggression. I’m trying to catch this kid and hurt him and damage him, whereas he’s trying to neutralize me because he’s a monk. If I’m upset, you see that in the way I spar with the people on my ship. Fire is an element you associate with venom and aggression. It’s unpredictable, and that’s really it in a nutshell. He’s unpredictable. He’s a firecracker, Zuko.”


COMMANDER ZHAO

Played by Aasif Mandvi
Where You’ve Seen Him: Dr. Kency Dhuwalia in Jericho
Character Insight: “Whenever you play a villain, you can’t play a villain. You have to play him with a certain point of view. For me, Zhao has a very specific point of view. It may be warped and you may disagree with him, but his point of view makes sense to him and within the universe and the world he is looking at. I think Zhao believes he isn’t doing anything villainous. He is doing things to protect the world that he sees needs protecting and he believes that he and the Fire Nation are the only people that can protect the world in that way.

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