Why James Cameron Made the Na’vi People in ‘Avatar’ Blue

Zoe Saldaña in 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'
Zoe Saldaña in 'Avatar: The Way of Water.' / 20th Century Studios

Spotting the most obvious differences between humans and the fictional humanoids of James Cameron’s Avatar universe is a fun little task you might assign to a 5-year-old. The Na’vi have only three fingers (and a thumb) on each hand, a tail, and an average height of about 10 feet. And, of course, they’re blue.

As JoBlo reports, how the director landed on that color pretty much came down to the process of elimination. In an interview for the January 2023 issue of Empire, Cameron explained that, for starters, “... green was taken. There was a long history of green aliens. Plus, the Hulk.” Any pink or brown hue was out by default for seeming too human, and SpongeBob SquarePants (not to mention The Simpsons) took yellow off the board. The remaining contenders were blue and purple; and Cameron, whose personal favorite color is purple, decided to save that to use as “one of our main bioluminescence colors … associating it with Eywa and anything sacred to the Na’vi.”

But blue had been a frontrunner since the start of the franchise’s conceptual phase for another reason, too. As Cameron explained, “ … my mom told me about this dream she had where there was a 10-foot-tall blue woman with six breasts. Cool image. I drew her, but the six breasts thing didn’t come out looking as good as it sounds, plus would mess with the rating. So, anyway ... blue.”

Cameron answered a number of other questions for Empire, submitted by a cross-section of past collaborators and various entertainment industry titans—including Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Guillermo del Toro, Pierce Brosnan, Zoe Saldaña, and more. For access to the full Q&A, learn how to subscribe to the magazine here.

[h/t JoBlo]