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M. Night Shyamalan's Next Film Rests on the Shoulders of a 12-Year-Old Dallas Boy

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M. Night Shyamalan has made some great movies (The Sixth Sense, course, and the far superior Unbreakable) and, more recently, a handful of terrrrrible ones (The Happening, Lady in the Water, The Village). But the kids, at least, anxiously await his next feature: The Last Airbender, Shyamalan's due-in-2010 adaptation of the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Variety, at the moment, is more interested in its star: Noah Ringer, the 12-year-old cast as the shaved-headed Aang, who, apparently, "must save the world by defeating the evil Fire Lord and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation," duh. Why do we care? He's a local on the verge:

After conducting a yearlong worldwide search for a young martial artist to play Aang, the director came across a video from Dallas-based 12-year-old Noah Ringer, who'd heard about Paramount's open audition call through his tae kwon do club.

Touting a first-degree black belt and a proficiency with various Eastern weapons, Ringer not only bore an uncanny resemblance to Aang (complete with shaved head) but also impressed Shyamalan with his sincere gentleness -- a characteristic the director felt was essential to play a monk who brings balance to a warring world.

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