Gordon Cormier, Ian Ousley, Kiawentiio & Dallas Liu on Avatar: The Last Airbender | Interview

by W. Andrew Powell

“I love this show,” Ian Ousley said. “I love it. I’m just happy to be here.”

The four young stars of Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender seemed to be as excited to talk about the series as they were to have stepped into the iconic characters.

Ian Ousley as Sokka, Gordon Cormier as Aang, and Kiawentiio as Katara
Ian Ousley as Sokka, Gordon Cormier as Aang, and Kiawentiio as Katara

“It was a pretty big deal for me,” star Gordon Cormier said about getting the role of Aang. “I was 11 when I first booked it and then finished when I was 13, so it was a whole year of my life just dedicated to the show.”

Alongside Cormier, Ousley stars as the wise-cracking Sokka, with Kiawentiio as Waterbender, Katara, and Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko. Sitting down with me to talk about the new series, they were bubbly and excited.

For Cormier, he loved Aang’s energy. “He is so happy, and one second he’s here, one second he’s there, and then he’s crying in a corner. He’s such a complex character with so much happiness and so much sadness because his whole nation was part of a Genocide.”

“I grew up watching the show,” Kiawentiio said. “I grew up loving the show… [and] being able to see myself in the character was so important. I feel like I relate so much to Katara that I was so excited to be able to bring her into actual real life.”

“Getting to live out my childhood dream of being a Firebender,” Liu said, “[and] Zuko has a very complex childhood. I think he’s certainly one of the most dramatic characters that we see in all of our show,” Liu said. “Having a comedy background and then moving into a more dramatic and serious role was something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. I feel really lucky and grateful that I was given this opportunity.”

Arden Cho as June, Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Iroh
Arden Cho as June, Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Iroh

For Ousley, joining the cast and playing Sokka was different than most of his other roles.

“I’ve done so many roles where I’m crying and I’ve done all sorts of stuff, but I love comedy,” Ousley said. “It was really fun to get to build that out on screen. And then I just love Sokka because he gets so many moments, like as a real person… [and] real emotions, of what Sokka would be going through.”

And there was more to playing the characters than the dialogue. Kiawentiio revealed a bit about how she prepared to play Katara once she mastered her abilities.

“It took us the time of boot camp, which was one or two months before we started filming, to start to get a hang of it. We were in there practising every day, trying to get the moves down,” she said.

“They really wanted me to do as much as I could at the beginning–even though I start out really beginner and really service level–but to get my body understanding those things and ready for, by the end of the show, where I really master my element.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender is out now on Netflix. Watch our interview with stars Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Daniel Dae Kim.

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gordon Cormier as Aang in episode 101 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023

All images courtesy of Netflix.

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