Avatar stars Dallas Liu and Ian Ousley were "not fans of each other at all" at first

Avatar: The Last Airbender stars Dallas Liu (Zuko) and Ian Ousley (Sokka) eventually became good friends, but according to Ousley, they didn't get along for a while.
Los Angeles Premiere Of Netflix's "The Brothers Sun" - Arrivals
Los Angeles Premiere Of Netflix's "The Brothers Sun" - Arrivals / Leon Bennett/GettyImages

Casting is important to any project, but especially when you're remaking a beloved show where fans are already familiar with the characters. Such was the case with Avatar: The Last Airbender, Netflix's live-action remake of the beloved animated show of the same name.

By and large, the show did a good job of casting these iconic characters; Gordon Cormier played bald-headed airbender Aang, Kiawentiio Tarbell played the waterbender Katara, Ian Ousley played her brother Sokka, and Ian Ousley played the obsessive firebender Prince Zuko.

Of all the actors on the show, I liked the performances from Ousley and Liu the best. Ousley nailed Sokka's sarcastic attitude from the show in a way that didn't seem cloying, and Liu was commanding as the moody Prince Zuko. Funnily enough, these two apparently didn't get along earlier in life, according to Ian Ousley himself.

"We actually knew each other in L.A. beforehand, when we were like 15," the 21-year-old actor told Complex. "It's a very long story, but we really were not fans of each other at all. So when I found out he got cast, I was like, “Oh my God, this is gonna suck. My life is going to suck for a year.”

Ousley doesn't say what problems the pair had with each other — as he says, it's a "long story" — but I'm willing to chock it up to 15-year-olds butting heads before they've fully developed their social skills. (Liu is 22 years old, for the record.)

In any case, things changed when the two attended martial arts bootcamp for the show, where all the cast members had to learn bending techniques. There, they went from enemies to roommates. "We were supposed to be friends and then we just bonded throughout the bootcamp and the first month of shooting," Ousley continued. "We lived a block away from each other and we would always get dropped off at one person's house, go eat, come back to that person's house, and then seven hours before we had to be on set for the next bootcamp day, which is very intense because it's like eight hours of training, we'd be like, 'Oh, crap, I've got to go home.' Go sleep in separate places, and then do it all again the next day. So after Christmas break, we were just like, 'Dude, we've got to move in together.' So we ended up doing that, which was really cool."

Ousley now describes Liu as a "good friend," so whatever problems they had with each other have been settled. I wonder if the Sokka-vs-Zuko fight scene from the first episode was cathartic for either of them. We'll see more of both of them in the second and third seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which have officially been greenlit. We don't have a release date yet, but you can probably expect season 2 to drop on Netflix sometime in 2026.

atla. All 8 episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender ranked from worst to best. dark. Next

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