Kiwi actor Cliff Curtis has just landed the role of a lifetime - cast as a lead character in all four of James Cameron's upcoming Avatar films.

Producer Jon Landau revealed the news exclusively to the New Zealand Herald today, saying he and Cameron were "really excited".

"Not only is Cliff a great actor but he is a great person too," said Landau from his Los Angeles office.

Curtis will play Tonowari, who is the leader of the Metkayina, the reef people clan.


Landau said he and Cameron, who are members of New Zealand's screen advisory board, have followed Curtis' career from Once Were Warriors through to Dark Horse.

"No one shines brighter than Cliff," said Landau, adding that Curtis is "a shining example of the extraordinary creative talents from New Zealand's film community that have drawn us to produce our films in the country".

Curtis will join returning cast members Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver on the shoot, which will begin production at Wellington's Stone Street Studios next year.

The first of the four sequels is due for release in December 2020, and the final film is set for release in 2025.

The original Avatar film, released in 2009, earned more than $3.9 billion at the global box office and remains the top grossing film of all time.

Cliff Curtis in Fear the Walking Dead.
Cliff Curtis in Fear the Walking Dead.

Curtis is one of New Zealand's most prolific actors, starring in some of the country's most celebrated films, including The Piano, Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider and The Dark Horse.

Most recently, he led the cast in The Walking Dead spin-off series Fear The Walking Dead, which is now in its third season.

The news comes as Cirque du Soleil announces it will bring its Avatar-inspired show Toruk to New Zealand this year.