Kate Winslet’s seven minute-plus underwater breath hold for “Avatar: The Way of Water” has been making headlines since 2020, but moviegoers will finally get to see what all the fuss is about as James Cameron’s long-awaited “Avatar” sequel finally opens in theaters. Speaking to Total Film magazine, Winslet revealed that she has a video recording of her record-breaking underwater breath hold. Winslet held her breath for seven minutes and 15 seconds, breaking Tom Cruise’s record.
“I have the video of me surfacing saying, ‘Am I dead, have I died?’ And then going, ‘What was [my time]?'” Winslet said. “Straight away I wanted to know my time. And I couldn’t believe it…The next thing I say is, ‘We need to radio set. I wanted Jim to know right away.”
“She’s not competitive at all,” Cameron added.
“Well, I didn’t have to hold my breath for over seven minutes,” Winslet continued. “It’s just that the opportunity to set a record presented itself. I wanted to break my own record, which was already six minutes and 14 seconds. And I was like, ‘Come on!’ So I smashed my own record by a minute.”
Winslet stars in “Avatar: The Way of Water” as Ronal, the female leader of the franchise’s seafaring community. “She is strong. A warrior,” Winslet previously told Empire magazine about her character. “Even in the face of grave danger, and with an unborn baby on board, she still joins her people and fights for what she holds most dear: her family and their home.”
Speaking to Variety ahead of “The Way of Water” release, Winslet said filming in massive water tanks was “completely amazing.” She added, “I absolutely loved it. When you’re working with real experts who know how to keep you safe and know how to teach you to maximize your fullest potential in a situation like that one, and will look after you, it was an amazing experience. It’s not something you can just try at home by yourself.”
While Winslet held her breath for just over seven minutes, her “Avatar” co-stars were no slouches either. Sigourney Weaver held her breath underwater for six and a half minutes, while Zoe Saldaña’s longest underwater breath hold clocked in at five minutes.
“Kate’s a demon for prep, so she latched onto the free diving as something that she could build her character around,” James Cameron told The New York Times about Winslet’s accomplishment. “Kate’s character is someone who grew up underwater as an ocean-adapted Na’vi — they’re so physically different from the forest Na’vi, that we’d almost classify them as a subspecies. So she had to be utterly calm underwater, and it turned out that she was a natural.”
“Avatar: The Way of Water” opens in theaters nationwide Dec. 16 from Disney.