“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.”