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Next Big Thing: Jack Champion, Who Spent His Entire Teens Filming ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’ Says James Cameron Became a Father Figure

When Jack Champion found out five years ago that he was going to audition for the highly anticipated James Cameron movie Avatar sequel, the then-12-year-old actor watched the original 2009 film every day for a month. “Three hours, every day,” says Champion, now 18. “It was one of my favorite movies growing up.”

Pulling out of appearances in the 2018 horror-comedy film the night sitter and a small paper in Avengers EndgameChampion plays Miles “Spider” Socorro in Avatar: The Path of Water. She underwent a lengthy audition process to land the role. “It was four months, starting with self-tapes,” she recalls, “and then I met with the casting director. [Margery Simkin] by Skype. There were many auditions. I never said, ‘Oh, I’m definitely going to get the part.’ Because I think as an actor you don’t want to blame yourself for being sad. You’re always grateful, like, ‘Hey, at least I made it this far. I can always say I got to this point.’”

Champion remembers a standout moment throughout the entire process: finding out he got a screen test to Avatar the same day she got her role in Avengers Endgame, playing the teenage biker who meets Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). “It was crazy,” the actor recalls of the big day.

the path of water, which was in production for nearly five years, hits theaters 13 years after the record-breaking success of the original. And, depending on how the sequel is received, Cameron is already planning future installments.

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“It’s an honor to work with Jim for four and a half years of my life,” Champion says of the director. “He knows everything about every department, from acting to lighting to stunts to cinematography. Most of the time, he was holding the camera himself, doing his own camera work for him. He is simply a movie genius. After so many years, he has become a kind of father figure to me.”

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In the path of waterIn theaters December 16, Champion’s character Spider is a teenage human orphaned on Pandora after the events of the first film, and is taken in as an unofficial member of the Omatikaya clan of the Na’vi tribe. . “Growing up playing the character, you can’t help but put a lot of yourself into it. [role],” he says. “[With] Spider, I feel like it’s just a different version of me that would be on Pandora, growing up in the situation that it’s in.”

“He considers himself one of the Na’vi, even though he is a human being,” the actor adds of his character. “He’s not 10 feet tall, but he doesn’t let that stop him.”

Champion went with Matt Gerald as Recom Wainfleet in 20th Century Studios Avatar: The Way of Water.

Champion (left, with Matt Gerald as Recom Wainfleet) in 20th Century Studios’ Avatar: The Way of Water.

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

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Next, Champion will appear in scream 6 (out in March), a role that feels like “a fantasy come true” for the actor. “I observed the Scream movies in October 2021 and I immediately became a huge fan of horror and slashers. Last Halloween, I dressed up as Ghostface, and then literally in less than a year, I would be cast in the next movie.”

the water path The star will also appear in the upcoming thriller starring Lionsgate’s Liam Neeson. Revengeand is also shooting strange talesdirected by captain marvel directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

champion jack

champion jack

Photographed by Sam Kim

After working in a company as huge as the water path, Champion finds that he enjoys the flexibility of smaller projects. “You feel more in control of things. It’s like, ‘Oh, maybe my character wouldn’t do that,’ or, ‘Instead of having that costume, I could dress like that. [instead].’ I think you have a lot of creative legroom with a smaller production, because with big things, I guess more corporate decisions have already been made.”

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At this stage in his career, the Virginia actor has yet to make the move to Hollywood. “It’s all over Zoom now,” he says. “I want to keep my home in Virginia, but never say never.”

This story first appeared in the December 16, the hollywood reporter magazine. Click here for subscribe.

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