RB: Almost all of your movies have a spiritual aspect to them, even if they're not necessarily a spiritual movie. Why is spirituality so important to you?

MNS: You know, I can't think of a movie as just a movie. It's got to be more than that, more than a job, more than a factory line. It's got to be something meaningful, something that's revelatory about the world and life for me to get up in the morning and feel I'm doing something important. It isn't important because there's a lot of money involved or because you can become famous. So you wake up and you go: "What is it about? What is it Aang's learning? He's learning about the elements. And what do they teach us as human beings and how does that relate to the American-Indian culture? How does that relate to Buddhism? What have we been talking about for thousands of years? What do we see when people look at the wind and the trees?" Those are great things to spend your day thinking about.

RB: There's a lot of talk that this is going to be a trilogy. Is that for sure? Do you have anything in mind for the next two films?

MNS: That's the intention. But it's not that it will be the same characters going on another adventure. It's not that. This is an entire story, and this movie is the first third of the story. It's very much in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings in that it's a larger story at work here. There are two different things: There are continuations of a story, and then there's a sequel. One of the primary things that drew me to this was to tell a long-form story. It's a gamble because you may not get a chance to make the other parts of the story, but that's an exciting gamble. It's an exciting challenge to put your heart and soul into the first part of a story and hope I get to tell the second and final part.


Next Story