AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER Stars Reveal the Pressure of Doing Justice to the Original

AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER cast speaks on the pressures of staying true to the source material in the live-action series
Netflix Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender first began as an animated television series that was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio. The series became a massive success, with comics, books, video games, a prequel novel series, a sequel series, and a film adaptation was created afterward.

The 2010 M. Night Shyamalan live-action film became one of the worst films ever made and had a 5% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and fans. During the press conference, which The Illuminerdi attended for the new Netflix series, the main cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender discussed the beloved animated series and the pressure they had to deal with when it came to fulfilling the authenticity of the original work.


Gordon Cormier, who plays the lead protagonist, Aang, opened up about how he had heard about the animated series but he didn’t watch it until he got the role. Cormier said on the role, “After I figured out what the show was about, I started watching it and binged it. I really fell in love with my character and the TV show. Since then, I’ve seen it about 26 times so people could say I like the show.”

RELATED: Netflix AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER Official Trailer Gives Best Look at the Upcoming Series Yet

For Dallas James Liu. who plays Zuko, he was a big fan of the series which also resulted in him learning martial arts. Liu said on the new Netflix series:

Avatar: The Last Airbender was something that I did watch as a kid before landing the role and it is actually a huge reason why I started participating in martial arts. As you guys know, there’s a lot of bending sequences and a lot of bending styles that are influenced by real life martial art styles. Being able to be a part of this has been a privilege.”

-Dallas James Liu, Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender-

When it came to the older members of the cast, such as Daniel Dae Kim (Fire Lord Ozai) and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Iroh), their experiences with the animated series were from close family and friends. According to Dae Kim, he was introduced to the show through his son. The actor commented:

“I watched it with my son because he was the one who was a fan of the show. He was in the heart of the Nickelodeon demographic. And, you know, wanting to be a good dad, I sat down with him and started to watch. I wanted to know what he was into and so we watched it together and that’s how I was introduced to the universe.”

-Daniel Dae Kim, Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender-

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee began watching the series after a recommendation from a close classmate. “She just finished binging the entire series with their son. She came up to me and said, ‘You’re a nerd, you’ll love this.’ Based on that recommendation, I watched it, fell in love with it, binged the whole thing and it’s probably some of the finest TV I’ve ever had the privilege of watching.”


The 2010 live-action film was a huge flop. To this day, fans and critics have spoken negatively on the film and when it was announced that Netflix was working on a live-action series, it seemed like fans were eager to see Netflix’s iteration of the beloved series. One thing was for certain for the cast: there was a big responsibility when it came to filming this project. Kiawentiio Tarbell, who plays Katara, understood how much this series meant to the fanbase and she felt that pressure going into this project.

“It’s a huge responsibility. I feel like we all felt that way and this universe does deserve a well done and well thought out live-action. We all were trying to do that, especially the writers and everyone else. We were all such huge fans and I feel like that played a huge part into paying homage and doing it justice.”

-Kiawentiio Tarbell, Katara in Avatar: The Last Airbender-

Ian Ousley, who plays Sokka, explains that it was a crazy moment for him to be part of a beloved universe. According to Ousley, he prepped a lot during the audition process and also while taking on the role of Sokka. Even though the pressure and emotions were high, he felt it was a privilege to be part of the Avatar world. He said as follows:

“It was almost like a life lesson in a way, where, just like in art, you’re vulnerable. Obviously, you have to do that in the right space, but this was the right space to be able to let go and be able to have open vulnerability. We are trying to give our best performances and go all the way with it because of how much every single person loved the show. It was a privilege to be a part of something that people really care about, both fans and creatives.”

-Ian Ousley, Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender-

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Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender has received a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, albeit 59% with Tomatometer Critics. However, viewers are praising the familiarity of the beloved animated series and how it has captivated both the older and newer generations. You can check out The Illuminerdi’s full review of the series here. Avatar: The Last Airbender is officially out now on Netflix.

About Netflix Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar the Last Airbender poster

Premiere Date: February 22, 2024
Executive Producer/ Showrunner: Albert Kim
Executive Producers: Jabbar Raisani, Dan Lin, Lindsey Liberatore, Michael Goi
Production: Albert Kim Pictures, Rideback, Nickelodeon Productions
Network: Netflix
Cast: Gordon Cormier, Ian Ousley, Kiawentiio, Dallas Liu, Ken Leung, with Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Daniel Dae Kim

Synopsis: Water. Earth. Fire. Air. The four nations once lived in harmony, with the Avatar, master of all four elements, keeping peace between them. But everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked and wiped out the Air Nomads, the first step taken by the Firebenders toward conquering the world. With the current incarnation of the Avatar yet to emerge, the world has lost hope.

But like a light in the darkness, hope springs forth when Aang (Gordon Cormier), a young Air Nomad — and the last of his kind — reawakens to take his rightful place as the next Avatar. Alongside his newfound friends Sokka (Ian Ousley) and Katara (Kiawentiio), siblings and members of the Southern Water Tribe, Aang embarks on a fantastical, action-packed quest to save the world and fight back against the fearsome onslaught of Fire Lord Ozai (Daniel Dae Kim). But with a driven Crown Prince Zuko (Dallas Liu) determined to capture them, it won’t be an easy task. They’ll need the help of the many allies and colorful characters they meet along the way.

Have you already watched Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender? If you have, what was your favorite episode? If you haven’t, are you planning on watching it soon? Do you think there should be a second season? Let us know and don’t forget to check out our social media and Discord! If you like this article, make sure to follow us for more content.



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Stephanie Ramirez

A film/tv enthusiast who loves everything nerdy including: Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, Comics and Books.