May 26th, 2024

Medicine Hat actor featured in Avatar series

By ANNA SMITH Local Journalism Initiative on March 2, 2024.

Picture of Joel Oulette (right) alongside other members of cast in a scene from Avatar: The Last Airbender.--Submitted Photo

Taking on the role of a brave water tribe warrior for Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Medicine Hat’s Joel Oulette was thrilled to put his own spin on a character from the beloved animated series.

When he first auditioned for the show, Oulette had no idea what, precisely, he was auditioning for.

“At the start of the audition, I was auditioning for one of the leads, Sokka, but I didn’t actually know it was Sokka at the time,” said Oulette, who explained that the show had been under the pseudonym Tradewinds at the time. “It just seemed like this adventure show. Then they call me back and then I had an audition for this warrior archetype character. Next thing I know, I’m heading to Vancouver for a fitting.”

The character in question, Hahn, underwent significant changes from his animated version, moving from what Oulette refers to as a “rude, annoying teenager” to a strong and selfless warrior who ultimately sacrifices himself for the good of the Water Tribe.

“It was a lot of fun doing everything on set,” said Oulette, detailing his time working on combat stunt work and choreography, which he fortunately found to be in his wheelhouse during filming.

“When we actually went to shoot the scene, it felt so real,” said Oulette. “You’re on this set; it’s the set that they used in the Mandalorian, where they don’t use blue or green screen, they use live-action projectors. So it’s a very visceral feeling.”

Oulette described that he actually ended up hitting one of the other stunt actors, dressed in their fire nation armour, a few times during filming, caught up in the movement of the fight scene. Fortunately, his character’s club was not actually hard, though he imagines it must have stung a bit.

“The character I play is fun. And his story is that he’s the tribe’s warrior. He’s like the go-to man to protect the tribe, he’s probably second in command to the chief, and he was set to marry the Princess, and then this … person from outside the tribe comes along, and everything changes,” said Oulette. He added that he doesn’t often do this kind of character in his work, but it was a rewarding experience.

Oulette’s character is present in episodes seven and eight of the series, and he will also feature in a film that is coming out in April, though he cannot give details on the work at this time.

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