'Avatar' Crew Lends Support to Manhattan DA Hopeful Lucy Lang

Avatar star Sigourney Weaver. (Inset: Lucy Lang)
Avatar: 20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection; Inset: Courtesy of Subject

Avatar star Sigourney Weaver. (Inset: Lucy Lang)

Manhattan District Attorney hopeful Lucy Lang is among eight candidates running for the spot now held by Cyrus Vance Jr., but she's the only one backed by a cadre of Hollywood heavy hitters.

On Jan. 5, Lang took part in a Zoom fundraiser that featured filmmaker James Cameron, his longtime producing partner Jon Landau and their Avatar star Sigourney Weaver. The linchpin to the event was the other participant — Stephen Lang, Lucy’s father and a veteran actor best known for his work in Don’t Breathe and as Colonel Miles Quaritch in Cameron’s Avatar franchise.

The nearly hourlong event kicked off with a recorded message from Weaver, who called Lucy “such an inspiring leader,” someone who has devoted her life to the community and changing the system from the inside out. “If my onscreen characters have taught me anything, it’s that we have to have more women in charge,” Weaver concluded. “I know that Lucy is the right woman for this job.”

Stephen Lang followed by welcoming the guests to the fundraiser before offering a hero-worthy tribute to Cameron. The filmmaker accepted and quipped to Stephen, “You’ve cemented your place in the cast of Avatar 4 and 5.” He saved some praise for his daughter by saying that should she win, she would become Manhattan’s first female DA. “I personally think that Lucy’s leadership is long overdue,” said Cameron. He then cited her endorsements by the “Silence Breakers,” the group of women who spoke out against Harvey Weinstein and shared their stories of sexual assault, harassment and misconduct. “New Yorkers will be in very capable hands.”

Lucy served as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan for 12 years before leaving to serve as director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College. Among her other accomplishments, Lucy created a groundbreaking “college in prison” course that saw ADAs and incarcerated students study criminal justice side-by-side in New York state prisons.

After his remarks, Cameron tossed the baton to Landau who moderated the Q&A portion of the event. He asked Lucy questions about racial justice, gun violence, mass incarceration, restorative justice, defunding the police, how to address sex crimes and help survivors, the homeless epidemic, plans to support the LGBTQ community, and diversity and inclusion, among other topics.

He also questioned her on the hot-button issue of special access to the DA’s office, an issue that has come up during Vance’s tenure, particularly as it pertained to Weinstein and other high-profile defenders. “There will be no special access for anyone,” Lucy said in regard to high-profile individuals benefitting from backroom meetings. “I’m committed to an office that treats everyone the same regardless of who they are or who their attorney is.”

Because the fundraiser had a certain Hollywood pedigree, Landau’s last two questions made sense: He asked Lucy to name her favorite female character as well as her favorite film.  Though she said it was a toss-up between Titanic’s Rose and Avatar’s Neytiri, she ultimately went with Dr. Grace Augustine, played by Weaver. “Who, other than scientists can we turn to in a moment of crisis like this, then to help serve as, as guidance for the next generation?”

As for her favorite film, she, of course, picked the film starring her father and made by the crew on the call. “Avatar — but I am willing to rescind that if a 2, 3, 4, and 5 are superior.”

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.