‘Avatar’ stars Dallas Liu, Gordon Cormier on becoming Aang and Prince Zuko

GORDON Cormier as Aang, the Last Airbender. | photographs courtesy of Netflix

Dallas Liu had to tap into the negativity of being an anti-hero to play Prince Zuko in Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the global phenomenon Avatar: The Last Airbender

“Unfortunately, Zuko has gone through a significant amount of extreme trauma. And that’s something that’s hard to relate to,” he said. 

In a press conference held 21 February, a day ahead of the show’s worldwide premiere on the streaming platform, Liu shared that he had to pull experiences from different points of his life to be Prince Zuko. 

(FROM left) Arden Cho as June, Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko and Paul Sun Hyung-Lee as Uncle Iroh.

“I think it worked well for specific scenes. But at the end of the day, I won’t be able to fully resonate with Prince Zuko with just a burn scar, right? At some point, it was hard to differentiate the line where Dallas and Zuko stood because I was in character every day, all day. But luckily, I had Paul Sun Hyung Lee who you guys know plays Uncle Iroh. He’s the kindest person I’ve ever met. He was extremely supportive to me throughout the process of becoming Zuko,” he said. 

Meanwhile, it was a no-brainer for Gordon Cormier to play the young Avatar Aang in the show. 

“The happy side of Aang was quite easy to relate to. But I feel like it was a little bit more difficult for me to tap into his emotional side, such as when he gets sad. I had to do a lot of preparation,” the 14-year-old Filipino actor said. 

Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender is a reimagining of the beloved animated Nickelodeon series. It follows Aang, the young Avatar, as he learns to master the four elements (Water, Earth, Fire, Air) to restore balance to a world threatened by the ruthless Fire Nation and its equally terrifying leader, Fire Lord Ozai (Daniel Dae Kim).

The four nations once lived in harmony, with the Avatar, master of all four elements, keeping peace between them. Everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked and wiped out the Air Nomads, the first step taken by the Firebenders towards conquering the world. The current incarnation of the Avatar yet to emerge. 

But, hope springs forth when Aang (Cormier), a young Air Nomad — and the last of his kind — reawakens to take his rightful place as the next Avatar. 

Together with his newfound friends Sokka (Ian Ousley) and Katara (Kiawentiio), Aang must navigate the difficult journey to restore balance in the world while evading the pursuit of the Fire Nation and its relentless exiled Crown Prince Zuko (Liu). 

The series is helmed by showrunner and writer Albert Kim (Sleepy Hollow, Nikita) and executive produced by Jabbar Raisani (Lost in Space, Stranger Things) and Michael Goi, alongside directors Roseanne Liang and Jet Wilkinson. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender is now available for streaming on Netflix.