Actress and singer-songwriter Trinity Jo-Li Bliss played Tuktirey or “Tuk,” the youngest of the Sully children in the box office records breaking film, Avatar: The Way of Water. She comes from a multicultural family (her mom was born in China) and is here to remind us to be kind to the planet that we live on. Having learned a lot about protecting the environment and water conservation from filmmaker, activist, and environmentalist James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron, Bliss is ready to share the film’s sustainability message and its green production with its legions of fans worldwide. 

In celebration of Avatar: The Way of Water‘s digital release and Earth Day, The Beat caught up with Bliss to discuss the young actor’s experiences working with Sigourney Weaver, the sustainability measures taken on set, and why environmentalism is so important to the younger generation.

Rebecca Oliver Kaplan: What was it like acting opposite Sigourney Weaver, who was playing the teen daughter of her character from the first Avatar film?

Trinity Jo-Li Bliss: Sig is kind of a kid at heart, and she often felt like “Big Sis Sig.” Of course, I knew she was a legend because she’s my auntie and my favorite movie star. Also, she was probably my dad’s celebrity crush back in college. (Sorry, Dad.) And so [after I was cast], when I figured out I was her little sister, I just jumped up and down excitedly. I couldn’t believe it.

Sig had such a graceful, warm presence when I got to set. I love her. She’s like a big sis, “Sigceratops.”

Kaplan: [Laughs] What other nicknames do you have?

Bliss: Yeah, we have several different nicknames. Big Sis. Sister Sig. Siggy. She’s Sigceratops. Then, I’m Twinceratops.

Kaplan: That’s awesome.

Bliss: She’s also just a master of the craft, of course. It’s great learning from her on set and seeing her be the pro that she is. I just tried to soak it in and learn from her. 

Avatar: The Way of Water

Kaplan: What was your experience working with so many legends on Avatar 2? Did you learn any interesting lessons?

Bliss: I learned so much since they’re masters of the craft. But also, because Avatar was environmentally friendly, I learned how to protect and nurture the planet. Things like plant-based catering on set, Earth Day [events], and the Avatar immersive experience in Hollywood taught me how we need to protect and nurture our planet and how the Na’vi have respect for nature and connect with nature and the animals. The Na’vi inspired me to keep vegetarian… Well, I just learned a lot about our environment.

Kaplan: What other environmentalism measures were on set, if any?

Bliss: We had our water cooler, and each of us had our Avatar water bottles, so that’s one way we wouldn’t use plastic. Also, within the message of Avatar, we can learn about the Na’vi and how they connect to nature and rekindle their connection and awareness with Pandora. We can do that with our Earth too. I think that’s also a way to take [the environmentalism and sustainability message] in.

Kaplan: Do you think that message is important to your generation?

Bliss: I mean, I have so many vegetarian friends, and we all want to do something to help Earth and help our planet. So I do think it is a great message for the younger generation. But also, watching Avatar in IMAX 3D and being surrounded by this world really helps us rekindle that connection with the world and nature and be in that environment.

Kaplan: Speaking of being immersed in that world, did you perform your stunts?

Bliss: Yes.

Kaplan: What was that experience like?

Bliss: It was mindblowing! We had three months of training before starting to film to get into the Na’vi mindset and physically and mentally prepare how to free dive for the water scenes, archery, and all those things! Also, we had to learn the dialect. So that training process helped us when it was time for filming. We were so into it already. We met our castmates and were all a family by the time of filming. It was a mind-blowing experience.

Kaplan: So it was like a group training beforehand? Almost like a camp?

Bliss: It was almost like a BootCamp, and often the young cast was together. I almost said kid cast, but I’m the only kid now. So sad. But most of the time, it was the young cast grouped and then the adult cast. Then, sometimes, we’d all be together. We got to go to Pandora Disney World, experience that, and be surrounded by the world—and Avatar Flight of Passage, that ride still gets me every time. It’s probably my favorite ride at Disney World or ride ever. Getting to experience that with my castmates helped us bond: screaming for Flight of Passage and being on the riverboat ride. So yeah, the training process helped us bond and get into the Na’vi, physically and mentally.

Kaplan: What excites you most about Tuk’s journey in the upcoming Avatar films? What are you excited for fans to see?

Bliss: Well, there’s so much to come. I’m excited for Tuk. Right now, she’s still eight or nine, and even though she’s quite small but mighty, I’m excited to see her grow into a Na’vi young woman and become even more badass. I’m excited to see her experience so many things. I’m also so excited that in the upcoming Avatar films, we will see new parts of Pandora and the new cultures of Na’vi. I’m also excited for everyone to see how Tuk and the Sully family meet all of them and react to some of that.

Trinity Jo-Li Bliss and John Landau at Avatar: The Way of Water Immersive Experience at Lighthouse Art Space
Bliss and Landau at Avatar: The Way of Water Immersive Experience at Lighthouse Art Space. Photo Courtesy of Disney.

Kaplan: Speaking of which, I know that Michelle Yeoh will be in Avatar 3. Did you get to work with her? If so, what was that like?

Bliss: Our filming was separate, but I met her at the Critics’ Choice Awards. I was there for Avatar with my castmate and brother from another mother, Jack ChampionJohn [Landau] and Jim, and “Slang,” or Stephen Lang. And then Michelle Yeoh was there for Everything Everywhere All At Once. And so, I got to meet her!

I said, “We’re in the same movie and haven’t met. I’m so inspired by you.”

So yeah, I got to meet her then, but I didn’t meet her during filming. I’m excited to see her in it, though. She’s such a trailblazer for the Asian community and my mom and me, and it’s really exciting that she’ll be in the movie and that I got to meet her.

Kaplan: How was working with James Cameron?

Bliss: It was so inspirational. Earlier, you talked about how everyone on the set is a legend and master of their craft, which Jim is, too. I was so inspired by him since probably in school, even before I watched or heard of Avatar; I’ve been learning about the Mariana Trench dive in school, and so inspired by that. I mean, the man went down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, which is mindblowing and inspiring! Jim has always inspired me never to stop asking questions, be curious, and keep learning.

Also, he inspired me while being on the Avatar set on how to nurture our world. He also kind of just inspired me to be a better person and a better actor. Getting to work with him was a dream come true. He’s the best.

Avatar: The Way of Water is now available exclusively on digital. Buy it here.

Cover photo provided courtesy of Dan Steinberg Photography/Disney.