Aussie roots ground demigod

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY MOVIES -

EST Aus­tralian ac­tor Sam Wor­thing­ton, 35, re­turns to the big screen this week in Wrath of the Ti­tans, the ac­tion-ad­ven­ture se­quel to his 2010 hit, Clash of the Ti­tans, which grossed al­most half a bil­lion dol­lars at the global box of­fice.

Asked if it would be wise to call Wor­thing­ton – who im­mi­grated to Australia with his work­ing-class English par­ents from Sur­rey to Perth when he was just six-months-old – a ‘‘movie star’’ to his face, Wor­thing­ton’s Wrath of the Ti­tans di­rec­tor, South African-born Jonathan Liebesman, ad­vises against it. ‘‘I would not say that to him,’’ he says. ‘‘That would not end well.’’ Wor­thing­ton’s boy-made-good life story has of­ten been told, with his fa­ther, Ron­ald, a power plant em­ployee, send­ing his son off to Cairns with $400 to find him­self. Wor­thing­ton had dropped out of Fre­man­tle’s John Curtin Col­lege of the Arts and his dad told him to ‘‘work his way home’’ from Cairns.

He worked con­struc­tion and brick­layer jobs and, at the age of 19, was in Syd­ney and au­di­tioned with a friend for a schol­ar­ship at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Dra­matic Art. Wor­thing­ton got in, his mate didn’t, lead­ing the young ac­tor to a stel­lar ca­reer with an Aus­tralian Film In­sti­tute Best Ac­tor Award for the 2004 drama Som­er­sault and the big­gest break of all, be­ing se­lected by James Cameron from thou­sands of hope­fuls to star in Avatar.

Clash of the Ti­tans, with Wor­thing­ton play­ing Perseus, the son of the Greek god Zeus, had the ac­tor head­lin­ing the movie, with Os­car nom­i­nees Liam Nee­son and Ralph Fi­ennes sup­port­ing.

The fame and for­tune, Wor­thing­ton says, has not gone to his head. And he says it never will – be­cause of the Aus­tralian way of life.

‘‘I think it is the work ethic that gets in­stilled in you in Australia,’’ Wor­thing­ton says.

‘‘My in­dus­try, or any other in­dus­try in Australia, is about the job at hand. That’s how I look at this crazy job that I do. It is still just one step at a time. It is com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion.

‘‘I like go­ing to work and get­ting my hands dirty and cre­at­ing a story for an au­di­ence.’’

Clash of the Ti­tans, a re-make of the 1981 film star­ring Lau­rence Olivier, was a box-of­fice suc­cess, but largely slammed by crit­ics and Wor­thing­ton would only re­turn to do a se­quel if im­prove­ments were made.

Liebesman, di­rec­tor of last year’s Bat­tle: Los An­ge­les and 2006’s The Texas Chain­saw Mas­sacre: The Be­gin­ning, was brought in to helm Wrath of the Ti­tans.

‘‘He is so ded­i­cated to en­sur­ing the au­di­ence gets its money’s worth,’’ Liebesman says of Wor­thing­ton’s in­put into the pro­duc­tion.

‘‘I think when the first film got crit­i­cised, es­pe­cially for its 3D, he was adamant to get it right this time.’’

Look­ing ahead, Wor­thing­ton’s star will con­tinue to rise. James Cameron has mapped out scripts for two Avatar se­quels and Wor­thing­ton is one of a hand­ful of peo­ple who knows how Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 will play out.

‘‘I know the story for 2 and 3 and it is epic,’’ he says.


Sam Wor­thing­ton re­turns as Perseus in se­quel

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