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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 8, 2010

Stuntman from Waianae plays 'Avatar' roles

TGIF Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Waianae native Nito Larioza was one of the stuntmen in "Avatar." Among the roles he played was a Na'vi warrior.

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Waianae native and Pearl City High grad Nito Larioza tried to tell everyone back in 2007 that James Cameron's "Avatar" was going to be big.

"But nobody would listen then," he said, chuckling. "Now, everyone wants to talk."

When you're part of an epic that's grossed more than $1.1. billion worldwide since Dec. 18, it's easy to see why.

Larioza, a stuntman/dancer/choreographer living in Los Angeles, has been back on O'ahu for the holidays. Kailua native Alicia Vela-Bailey also did stunts for "Avatar."

"I worked on it on and off for three years and Alicia has worked the film from start to finish," Larioza said. "I have to give her a shout. She's my homegirl."

Larioza has been involved in big movies before. He was working with Steven Spielberg on "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" when Cameron's people called and asked him to climb the Himalayas "as fast as you can" for the Floating Mountains scene in "Avatar." "It was tough, but it came at a good time because I was doing a lot of upper-body work for 'Indiana Jones,' " he said.

He was a stuntman in "Iron Man" and a robot in the original "Transformers." He works on "Lost" occasionally and did stunts in the upcoming movies "The A-Team" (he gets beat up by Rampage Jackson), "Inception" (knocked around by Leonardo DiCaprio), and "Real Steel" (he's a robot). He also choreographed Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum scenes for "Alice in Wonderland," opening in March.

Though you don't hear from Larioza in "Avatar," you see him numerous times. Among his roles are an attacking wolf, a Na'vi warrior and one of the bird-like banshees.

"There was so much good footage that didn't make it," Larioza said, "but I guess you can't have a five-hour movie."

To get an idea of what he would be a part of, Larioza said, Cameron gave a 3-D viewing of the fire scene that was shot early.

"The first time I watched it I was blown away with the colors and realism. Cameron said, 'Nito, can you see being the wolf?' It was exciting," Larioza said.

Next up is the Jan. 26 DVD release of "B-Girl," a dance movie Larioza did some of the choreography on, and his "Yogaloha" workout DVD, to be released later this year.

The next blockbuster? He predicts it will be "Alice in Wonderland."

"What they do with that story is amazing. It's going to be huge," he said.