Cliff Curtis has revealed he scored the biggest role of his career - a lead spot in James Cameron's four Avatar sequels - without auditioning for the role.

The Kiwi actor was revealed as one of the leads for the four-movie series on Monday, playing a character called "Tonowari" - the leader of a group of reef people called Metkayina.

In an interview with Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB this morning, Curtis revealed he didn't have to audition for the role.

Instead, Cameron offered him the job on the spot during a Skype call.


"(I got) a phone call from James Cameron," he said. "That turned into a Skype call and he offered me four movies. It was that simple. It was a straight invitation."

Curtis, the star of local movies The Dark Horse and Once Were Warriors, called it "a highlight in my life and career".

He said he was happy to finally leave "the grind" of being a struggling actor behind him.

"It's a bit mindbending. After years of struggling - you have to do all these meetings, auditions and chemistry reads - (there's) none of that ... he goes, 'How'd you like to do four movies?' 'Oh yeah, sure Jim, that sounds great'.

"I always wanted to get to a point where it would come down to someone who knows my work, respects my work, who I get to know and respects my company, giving me a call," Curtis said.

A scene from Avatar, the world's highest-grossing blockbuster released in 2009.
A scene from Avatar, the world's highest-grossing blockbuster released in 2009.

Filming on the four sequels is expected to begin early next, with the first Avatar sequel planned for release in 2020 and the last in 2025.

Curtis will join returning cast members Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver on the shoot.

The first 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.

Curtis called Cameron's out-of-the-blue offer "a dream come true".

"It's James Cameron - he's a genius ... Just to feel valued, as a fellow storyteller at that level, it's huge, it's really significant."

YouTube / 20th Century Fox

Curtis admitted to Hosking he hadn't yet received a shooting schedule and didn't know much about how Cameron was going to make four films back-to-back.

"Technically I don't understand how he's going to do what he's going to do ... I've just got to turn up and make my humble contribution to the overall scheme of things."

Curtis said his filming commitments on Avatar would work around his schedule on US zombie show Fear the Walking Dead, which is made in America.

But being able to make the movies at home was something he'd always dreamed of, Curtis said.

"The dream has always been to do it at home ... It doesn't get better than this mate."

Cameron's Avatar news comes amid a number of Avatar-themed announcements, including a theme park opening in Florida, while Cirque du Soleil's Avatar-inspired show Toruk will tour New Zealand later this year.