Avatar: The Last Airbender

Jackson Rathbone talks The Last Airbender

“I’m focusing mostly on music and another movie I have coming up. We’re going to be working on ‘The Last Airbender’ with M. Night Shyamalan, so that’s very exciting.”

“It was great. They flew us all out to Philly,” Rathbone remembered of his audition. “I got to meet the other castmembers that they hired on. I got to read with them, even. It was a blast. It was a great chance to get a free trip to Philly and get a chance to meet M. Night. He’s an incredibly nice guy, and I think we hit it off pretty well, and now I get to play Sokka.”

“It’s a fantastic show,” Rathbone said of the Nickelodeon animated series. “I’ve always loved that kind of deep, mythical fantasy. It’s got a lot about the four elements: water, fire, earth, wind. It’s just really cool. It’s a really interesting series and such a cool character. I’ve always liked the show, and I thought it would be fun.

“For me, it’s a great chance to show my range a little bit more,” Rathbone added, comparing Sokka to his “Twilight” character. “It’s a chance to do something a little funnier. Something less serious than Jasper.”

Due in theaters in summer 2010, “Airbender” has already begun to face a bit of controversy over the casting of white actors like Rathbone, Ringer and McCartney to play Asian characters – a concern the actor was quick to dismiss. “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan,” he said of the transformation he’ll go through to look more like Sokka. “It’s one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit.”

He’s also excited to work with Shyamalan on what’s not only being envisioned as a trilogy, but also as an eagerly anticipated departure from the director’s typical “thriller with a twist” flicks. “I think ‘Airbender’ has a lot of suspenseful twists as a TV show, but I think it’s something he’s really looking forward to, for expanding his own horizons,” Rathbone said. “He has kids. How many films has he made that his kids would be able to watch? So I think it’s really great that he’s making a family film. I have a sister; it’s exciting to make a film that my whole family can enjoy.”

So, soon enough, Rathbone will put down his banjo-lele and pick up a badass sword.

“It’s just an action-packed, epic film,” he beamed. “I’m starting to do martial-arts training, which is going to be so much fun, and we’re doing a lot of interesting work with the green screen. It’s such a mythical world. We get to go to Asia, go film abroad. It’s just going to be such a blast.”

-via MTV.com

28 Responses to “Jackson Rathbone talks The Last Airbender”

  1. dr crowe says:

    Sounds like he's a fan and he's excited!! It's getting close to the start of filming.

    The news is going to start rolling in.

  2. sm says:

    Listen i know boycotting this film will not change the cast selections that have been made ( and i will boycott this film). But i hope that i am a soft roll in the ocean that starts a massive wave of people that want more realistic choices when characters are selected for roles. come on
    Kung Fu: David Carridine?!
    Avatar: Noah Ringer = Aand?!
    Scarface: Alpacino?!
    while movies are a break fom reality, the sad reality is there is either; too much influence from the producer, not enough power from micheal d or bryan k, or not the right vision from m night. And so you know I am both an Avatar and M night fan. Christopher Lambert=Raiden Get f'n real

  3. annon says:

    You lost me at Scarface=/=Al Pacino.

    One of the great performances in cinema history, and if you are saying you would go back and erase that, I am saying you aren't being level enough to face this issue rationally.

    And who knows what factors drove them to this casting decisions. Surely you do not know. Bryke could fully support this decision. It's silly to pretend to know otherwise.

  4. sm says:

    Listen I know most people go ga ga for scarface. I don’t, being of Cuban descent and knowing realistic accents, he does them no justice, but I will say if you don’t believe me watch it one more time and compare his accent to the other non Caucasian actors in the film and check for yourself. I will also say that the movie does garner a lot of attention because of a sexy storyline ( man of little affluence rises to power bay kicking every ones butt). But why did they not chose a Cuban actor? And I do understand that this is just my opinion not fact.
    In regards to the whole Bryke thing ( I like the name you thought of, clever witty and as a Bryke fan myself just cool). I’m not saying they do or don’t. I listed a myriad of reasons, that MIGHT have caused a poor selection(again my opinion) of cast members…..Jesse McCartney…..What’s your opinion on that selection? Just curios

  5. Dr Crowe says:

    You both made interesting points.

    I personally didn't care for Scarface, but it wasn't because of Pacino. Being a Floridian, I have friends and neighbors of Cuban decent and I can say Pacino isn't perfect on the accent, but the rest of the role – and the emotions of the role are executed superbly.

    I will wait to hold judgement on TLA until I see these peeps in action.

  6. jade123 says:

    I think Shyamalan knows what he is doing. I wish people would stop ditching the movie before it even starts filming. Nothing can ever be the same as the TV show. It just can't. I believe that Bryan and Micheal would say something to Shyamalan if they didn't like something he is doing. And about the Scarface thing, I'm totally lost. What does that have to do with anything?

  7. Vina says:

    This isn't about being exactly like the TV show. This is about undermining everything the TV show stood for. Racial diversity. Respect for other cultures. Giving kids a different kind of fantasy world than the ones with traditional Western roots.

  8. Mr Suntail says:

    Who cares what race the actors are?!?! Its not like all the voices in the anime series are from Asian actors, and really a big part of what makes the characters great in the series are the voices of the characters. If you want to whinge and boycott the movie because its not exactly how you wanted it then i have two suggestions for you. 1. stop calling yourself an Avatar fan, because if you were you would not boycott the movie. 2. If you want to have a cry, go back to mummy and whinge about your dinner instead of what could potentially be one of the biggest trilogies of the next decade. Give M. Night a chance to once again prove that he can get a movie very right.
    Mr Suntail

  9. Ben says:

    Who cares?Nearly ALL the fans. Visually,the characters are very much asian.Since we don't SEE them,voices don't matter that much. In live action,however,it's a different matter.The whole series is drenched in asian culture and characters.To have the 4 main characters be caucasians will have the same effect as David Carridine in Kung Fu,it'll distract from the story.Not a good idea.(Bruce Lee,who came up with the idea for Kung Fu,pitched the show and wanted the main role,would have been a much better choice.)And the notion that they couldn't find asian and aboriginal actors in north america,let alone the world,is ridiculous.I f the rest of the cast is picked the same way,it won't feel authentic orbelievable.If the rest of the cast is asian however,the four leads will look even more out of place,destroying the necessary illusion.
    Not listening to the fans is also ridiculous.Unhappy fans creates bad press,and bad press has kill many movies in the past(Opening weekend is crucial to movie's success and bad press can drive attendence down(that includes the non-fans)).

  10. Ben says:

    Peter Jackson did pay attention to the fans when he made Lord of the Rings. He used the web site TheOneRing.com to get the fans feedback on story and design concepts during pre-production and production.He trashed and changed a few because the fans didn't like them.The final product had some inevitable changes from the books but the spirit remained intact(that is what Avatar fans want for their beloved franchise).
    LOTR went on to become one of the most successful trilogy ever.
    Most changes have their reasons to be,but I see none for this.To those who say that “changes are to be expected” as an excuse to accept caucasian actors in what should be asian roles,I ask what possible reason could there be for this for this change?No asian actors as good as the ones that got picked?Not credible.Movies with asian leads don't do well at the box office? Crouching Tiger,Hinden Dragon for one,not to mention all the successful Jackie Chan flicks,answers that one.
    So what other reason could there be????

  11. Ben says:

    To make one thing clear,when it was announced that M. Night would be the director,I was one of those who had faith he would do a good job on these movies and said so on a few avatar fan sites.I still have faith in M.Night's abilities (I'm still a fan) and do wishes success for these movies,but the casting is a bad choice (for the reasons enumirated above)and could prouve disatrous despite his best effort.That is why he needs to change the casting before starts filming.Then, he'd a much better chance for success.

  12. Mr Suntail says:

    Disastrous? What about Harry Potter or Narnia? They did great at the box office. Caucasian actors. Now i know they are not exactly comparable, but neither is Lord of the rings. Dont get me wrong, i love asian kung fu movies and Jackie Chan but that is not the audience that M.Night is aiming for. He is trying to please the existing avatar community as well as aim for the same audience as the above movies. If he just aimed to please us (avatar community) the 2nd and 3rd movie would struggle to get financed as the 1st movie would more than likely flop like the Eragon movie did. I think for the fans, M. Night has chosen kids that fit the visual profile's of the characters even though they have a lighter complection and last time i checked, fake tans are easy to come by. 1/2

  13. Mr Suntail says:

    IF the kids can capture the core personality traits of the characters (which do not have anything to do with their skin colour) and engage well with the audience, then mission accomplished. Remember that the Creators are involved and after the cartoon series, I am happy to trust their judgement. I didnt like some of the casting for Lord of the rings but i still saw the movies and now own them as i am a Lord of the Rings fan and i understand that not everything is perfect when it comes to hollywood and casting. If we as the Avatar community are not backing this movie, then it and the Avatar franchise will not reach its full and awesome potential. Avatar could be the star trek/ Star wars or Matrix of the next decade if we back it up, but if its own community writes it off before its even had a peice of film cut, then the wider community will too. What do you as a fan want, a potentially great movie that flops due to us acting like spoilt brat's or a potentially great movie that got every chance to succeed backed by an excited fan base. your choice, but i choose to give the creators and M. Night a fair go. 2/2

  14. Ben says:

    1)They did not miscast Harry Potter,they did their best to find actors who were both good and actually looked the part,thank you for making my point exactly.
    2)There are a lot more movies that pleased their fan base and got great success(LOTR,Spiderman,Batman Begins, Harry Potter,etc…)than those who pleases the fans and fail.Not listening gets you fun stuff like Catwoman,Ang Lee's Hulk or the new “the Day the Earth Stood Still”,just to name a few.
    You're right when you say the film needs it's own community's support,but it's up M.Night to win that support.
    That bit of casting did nothing to help.
    If you'll notice,I said nothing about boycotting the film,only that I am concerned about its chances for success.
    My name is Benoit Cecyre and you'll find it on Imdb,I worked in animation for 16 years and I know a thing or two about adaptations and changes(especially with watership Down).So I'll ask again since you avoided answering my question,Why was this changes necessary(from asians to caucasians)?Are you suggesting that the wide community is anti-asian?

  15. Mr Suntail says:

    Bennie boy, read all of the comments above and you will see that I am not just commenting on your comments although obviously the earth revolves around you. Now I will address your points slowly and simply so you may have a chance to understand.
    1) All the main characters for Harry Potter, LOTR, Spiderman, Batman Begins, all have 1 thing in common. Caucasian. 2) It didn’t bother anyone in their fan base. Peter Jackson could not get help form the creator of LOTR because he is 6 feet under, hence the fan base is the next best source.
    IF M.Night was NOT working with the creators of the show, it would then make sense for more correspondence with the fan base, however he IS working with them which is why I believe we can disagree with his casting choice but still respect his decision with casting because it has been backed by Avatars makers. ½

  16. Mr Suntail says:

    NOW LET ME STATE THIS CLEARLY.
    I don’t care what race the actors are.
    As I said I love Asian films. Always have.
    Crouching tiger is a great and it did well BUT it is the exception to the rule.
    NOW, I don’t care what your name is, even though it resembles a spilt box of scrabble tiles, or what play group you go to, to do you drawings that your mum hangs on the fridge, the changes are necessary because obviously at the time, they could not find 4 Asian background kids, who look the part who can act. That’s life, get over it, it’s not a perfect world. It’s necessary because M. Night says it is.
    And no I am not saying that the wide community is anti-Asian, they are just anti-crap child actors. Is there anything else you don’t understand or are you too busy crying and burying your head into your mum’s bosom? 2/2

  17. Paul Martin Specter says:

    Mr. Suntail, I'm cutting you off right here. You're insulting someone that has worked in animation for many years. You're calling them “Benny-Boy” and being extremely condescending. I will not allow for shallow name-calling on my website.

    With regards to the race issue and Narnia, I also run a Narnia website, and one day out of the blue, someone very angrily e-mailed me asking why none of the children in the movie were black. I explained to them that the children are brothers and sisters, they're all from the same family. They then accused me of being racist. Instead of dealing with this person any more, I simply responded with one more e-mail putting things as delicately as possible, and then deleting any further correspondence from them. There was no getting through the rhino thick skull of that individual.

    With regard to Avatar, perhaps Paramount will at some point put a statement out. It's probably a matter of time before something comes out, because this has been reported on by practically everyone.

  18. Mr Suntail says:

    I apologize if I have broken the rules of your site. Maybe it would be a good idea to post some forum rules at the start of the forums thread so we know how freely we can express ourselves to each other. However I don’t think that my opinion is any less valid than some one who has worked in the animation industry when it comes to casting, seeing as you don’t DRAW THE CAST OF A MOVIE. If I get talked down to I will respond in a similar fashion with my own flair and touch, be it more childish than others. I maintain that my arguments are valid however I will cease the name calling at this time. Hopefully Ben and everyone else understand that I have a similar enthusiasm and passion for the avatar series and I want to see the movie go nuts at the box office. Ben and I make similar points it seems the only thing that differs is the need for the race to change in the casting. The main thing I want people to consider from my input is to trust that the creators and M.Night are working in the best interest of the movie and that M.Night approached them to make it, which I think shows his heart is in the right place and that he will try to stay true to the core characteristics of the story. The casting may not be perfect by your own personal standards but please (this is not directed to Ben but the others who were threatening to boycott) get over it, go see it and (this is also for Ben) give the movie’s cast a chance and get behind this movie for the show we all love.

  19. Paul Martin Specter says:

    I fully agree that we should give the filmmakers a chance to prove themselves. I'm a HUGE fan of both Night and Avatar, and I'm greatly looking forward to the film, regardless of who is playing whom.

    Also, I was just hoping to halt the argument before it escalated beyond belief. I meant no offense to anyone involved.

    I do have some rules, but perhaps I should make rules for commenting and link to them from this comment form.

  20. Ben says:

    If I insulted anyone,I'm sorry,that was not my intention.At no time have I used any derogatory terms towards anyone and I didn't give my name,what I did and ask to look it up on imdb to talk down to or impress anyone but to help explain why I held the views that I held and to demonstration that I wasn't a troll(trolls prefer anonymity and will claim to be anything that suit them to win their point without ever backing up their claims with any facts).
    I do trust M.Night and two producers from the show.Turning nearly 8 hours of show into a 2 hour movie while making changes to the plot to cover up the parts that been taken and taking into consideration the in medium doesn't bother me,I know that it's in good hands.And when it comes to directing children he's absolutely perfect.And when it comes to casting is movies,he has so far shown extreme good sense.

  21. Ben says:

    So why the long face on this cast?Is just about race?Not quite.The casting is problematic this time(I mean c'mon,McCartney has Zuko???even among caucasian actors they could've found better(heck,Rathbone would've been way better))which made me realize that maybe M.Night might not have had as much to do with the casting and might in fact have to make do with what Paramount is giving him.I do trust him to make the best of what could be a bad situation.He could make a great film and draw out an incredible performance from the courant cast but that does not mean he'd be out of the woods yet. Here's how I see it play out.Right now many fan are protesting via letter righting campaign (which is usually much more effective then petitions and e-mails)to have the cast changed.Odds are things will stay as they are(but you never know)the rage of the fans will die down a bit as production progresses.But as the release date looms closer other groups(asian and first nation actors as well as anti-racism groups)start their media blitz against the movie which may reignite the fans anger.

  22. Ben says:

    The controversy would help it was rated R but since this a family film,it will most likely hurt its chances and make it fail on opening weekend.Even with positive word of mouth,it is extremely rare for a movie to do better on it's second weekend than the first.Do you see why I'm worried?
    There are two solution to this(there could be more but I can only see these two for now)Either change the casting(the most effective way but the least likely) or make a teaser trailer for mid-july that blows everybody away and makes the fans want to see the film NOW!!!(more of a gamble but more likely to be attempted(it won't stop the actors and anti-racism groups from protesting but the fans less likely to join them and more likely to in the theatre on the first weekend)).
    I hope this nuances and clearifies my position.

  23. Paul Martin Specter says:

    Let's just put it this way. Night's casting directors came through with an eclectic cast for Lady in the Water. Night doesn't have total control over casting, though.

    There are a number of things they take into account.

    1) Acting alone
    2) Acting with the others in the group
    3) Personality
    4) Would the person be easy to work with for the entirety of a three film shoot? In other words, are they easygoing and easy to get along with?
    5) Availability for the entirety of the shoot.
    6) Ability to capture the spirit of the character, with all emotions required.
    7) A natural charisma to the characters.

    I think an explanation should be released by Paramount, but I also think that any decision made will be met with a backlash. If they go on with this cast, fans will probably protest and see the movie anyway. If they drop this cast, fans will probably protest when the movie isn't exactly like the show, scene for scene. I dunno.

  24. Ben says:

    Hope you're right

  25. Mr Suntail says:

    Me too.

  26. Mrs. Zuko says:

    I think Jackson will do an amazing Sokka! The plus is he is also a fan so he can really tune into Sokkas personality. Which to me is one of the funniest things about the show are Sokkas comments :O)

  27. sm says:

    Listen they (whoever the casting company is)do not know what ethnicity would wear a kimono….dont believe me.
    http://www.cartoonbrew.com/ideas-commentary/more-anger-about-avatar.html
    check this out!!!!
    listen im just one guy and again this is my opinion but…….Jesse for Zuko…in the typed expression of Jade (Distant horizon)
    *headdesk*

  28. missy says:

    There will be a protest at The Last Airbender Open Call on February 7th in Philadelphia, from 10AM to 4PM at the Independence Hall Visitor Center.

    Independence Hall Visitor Center
    “Independence Ball Room”
    6th & Market Streets
    Philadelphia, PA 19106

    We are asking EVERYONE who is against the all white casting, and racism in HollyWood to please come out and use their voice. News channels will also be out..lets make an impact. It takes ONE person to change the world..it will take a group to change this movie!

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