Aussie roots ground demigod
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