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'Avatar': Meet the cast

Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, and Sigourney Weaver talk about working with Cameron and their next projects

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Zoë Saldana (Neytiri)
Saldana was almost too committed to her role as a Na’vi warrior princess. ”I was sleeping with her, eating with her, hissing at people at the supermarket,” she says. ”I never stopped being her, even when I went off to do other things.” That included Star Trek, a project James Cameron urged Saldana to do. The 31-year-old, who made her screen debut in Center Stage and appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, says she’s still hooked on Avatar. ”It was hard for me to take off my helmet when we were done,” she says. ”Toward the end, we were going, ‘F—, man, I want to come back for more!”’ COMING UP: Death at a Funeral, with Chris Rock. —Kate Ward

Michelle Rodriguez (Trudy Chacon)
Rodriguez, 31, hardly needed convincing to sign on as Avatar‘s fearless helicopter pilot. ”As soon as they said [Cameron’s] name, I was like, ‘Whatever that guy wants,”’ she says. ”I was like, ‘Man, I’ll serve your coffee!”’ Rodriguez, who’s best known for her roles on TV’s Lost and in two Fast and Furious films, has built a career playing tough girls ever since her debut as an aspiring boxer in 2000’s Girlfight. ”Sometimes an agent comes up and says, ‘You have to veer away from what you’re comfortable with if you want to evolve,”’ she says. ”But playing a slut is not my thing. I’m not evolving from that, believe me.” COMING UP: Robert Rodriguez’s action thriller Machete. —KW

Sam Worthington (Jake Sully)
The Australian native, known mainly in his homeland for his 2004-05 stint on the TV show Love My Way, had only a few other credits to his name before signing on to Avatar. (It was James Cameron who reportedly recommended Worthington for the lead in McG’s Terminator Salvation, a reimagining of Cameron’s own sci-fi action franchise.) The 33-year-old has quickly become Hollywood’s go-to guy for big-budget tentpoles, such as the remake of 1981’s Clash of the Titans, out March 26. COMING UP: Playing a Mossad agent in The Debt, also starring Helen Mirren. —Tim Stack

Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Grace Augustine)
Weaver had worked with James Cameron on Aliens in 1986, but Avatar was a different experience altogether. ”It’s like The Wizard of Oz,” she says. ”This movie sort of broke open the concept of what a movie is.” Weaver, 60, has built a career on playing singular women, from the narcissistic boss in Working Girl to the possessed ”gatekeeper” in Ghostbusters to her Oscar-nominated turn as Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist — and she’s never slowed down, still taking on two or three projects per year. Is she ever going to take a break? ”Not if I can help it,” she says. COMING UP: The sci-fi comedy Paul, with Jane Lynch and Seth Rogen, and You Again, opposite Betty White and Jamie Lee Curtis. —BS

Joel David Moore (Norm Spellman)
Until now, Moore’s been most famous for his role in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. But the 32-year-old has been acting for years. ”I enjoy being able to bounce around,” he says. Where does he hope to bounce next, post-Avatar? ”This may land me in a Twilight movie,” he says. ”I’ve never seen one, but I assume that’s where it’s at.” COMING UP: The drama Janie Jones. —Keith Staskiewicz

Giovanni Ribisi (Parker Selfridge)
Ribisi has managed to avoid the limelight, despite roles in such high-profile films as Saving Private Ryan and TV shows like Friends. Now, as Avatar‘s heartless mining executive, the 35-year-old’s moment has arrived. ”It’s kind of overwhelming,” Ribisi says. Does he worry about being known as a bad guy? Nope. He’s got at least one fan. ”My 5-year-old nephew was actually rooting for me!” he says. COMING UP: The Rum Diary, with Johnny Depp. —John Young

Stephen Lang (Col. Miles Quaritch)
If you’re wondering where you’ve seen this 57-year-old actor before, well, you probably haven’t. Avatar has sold more tickets than his 31 previous films combined. ”It’s surreal, and stunning,” says the Tony-nominated stage actor, who appeared last year in Public Enemies. ”But it does get a little predictable, people coming up and saying ‘I hate you.”’ Lang’s rogue colonel has become an instant evil icon. ”The only person who likes him is me,” Lang says. ”If I don’t, who will?” COMING UP: White Irish Drinkers, opposite Karen Allen. —BS