Sam Worthington was the last person one would expect to become a Hollywood star. A former bricklayer who landed his first part meeting an actress in an audition, the Australian native rose to incredible success with roles in films like Terminator: Salvation, the highest-grossing film of all time Avatar, and Clash Of The Titans. Now, the 35 year-old reprises his Titans role of Perseus with the sequel Wrath Of The Titans.
Worthington talks about what makes Greek myths like the story of Perseus so timeless to this day.
“I just feel that they deal with themes and they’re big themes like destiny and responsibility and these big family values that are still relevant to us today,” Sam believes, “That’s why these mythological tales or Shakespeare or these other kind of big folklore tales that have survived, because we can find relevance in them in our own society, in our own way now. I think that’s why they’ve survived.”
Sam talks about how he was able to work with the CG effects in the Titans films.
“It’s a more improved version of interacting in the sense that this one,” Worthington says, “[Director] Jonathan [Liebesman] is very good at combining the practical with the special effect. He’d learn a lot of techniques himself, like a lot of those explosions are real, a lot of the trees going off are real, so you’re dealing with an abundance more of practical stuff to interact with. And then both me and him, we would bring the special effects guys on set a lot more and realize that we’re not going to be dictated by the special effects; you have to work in tandem because the special effects can come in five, six months later down the track.”
“We’d like to balance and play with what we have now and then get them to kind of play catch up a bit rather than us playing catch-up or the reverse, and I think that actually helps because then you’re working together,” he adds, “Sometimes they’re off in the back in their own tent. Well, I don’t like that. I’d rather them be on the frontline with us and then you can collaborate or argue. It’s almost like learning what I learned on Avatar then on Clash, you just keep improving it and refining it and I think therefore the interaction between us and CG becomes a lot more organic.”
Worthington was asked if there was anything he wanted to do differently in Wrath as opposed to its predecessor.
“I think it’s its own thing,” Sam says, “I’ve been pretty vocal about how I felt personally about the first one and what I did in the first one. I haven’t done that in a way of putting the first one down at all, it’s just I think, to me, it’s my responsibility to try and, in this one, create a character rather than just a conduit for the action. And I think by coming up with a different dynamic or the themes of responsibility for this dysfunctional family who just happen to be gods in a world of monsters, you just kept going back to that. Ever action scene was always like, does this relate to a family?”
“If you look at the first Chimera chase, it’s me chasing after my son,” he continues, “It’s got nothing to do with the fucking monster. The second one with the Cyclops, which is more of a fun chase, it’s me trying to go after the cousin. That became the main factor; drill this family story into this big spectacular blockbuster and if we lose sight of that then some of the things I felt were misplaced and misdirected in the first one will come back to haunt us and I didn’t want that.
The Clash Of The Titans film that preceded this one, although successful, was criticized by some for being a watered-down version of Greek mythology. Sam talks about how he approaches Greek mythology.
“I think with this Greek mythology thing, it’s not a history lesson,” Worthington believes, “These movies never have been like that for me. We’ve just utilized the mind of this great field of characters and creatures and situations and journeys and to me, that’s the most exciting thing.”
“Purists are going to be burned, but I don’t care,” he adds, “Because I like the fact that we are mining these worlds of themes and creatures and whatever to create our own mythology, our own kind of canon of stories. And I get excited by that.”
Worthington was asked if he had gotten any injuries during filming.
“You get a couple of bruises, but that’s the nature of this type of film,” Sam says, “It’s all about investing in these weird action scenes where you are fighting a guy in a green suit.”
Worthington talked about his favorite scene that he worked on in Wrath.
“The Minotaur, just because it’s something we talked about way back, having a labyrinth, the fact that it moves I thought was a really cool concept,” he replies, “The fact that we had a set that actually moved was fantastic for us. I just like it because, to me, it was a brutal fight like UFC and I just thought that’s something different.”
“I was getting a bit over heroes that have big six packs and do stylized action scenes,” Sam says, “That was the trump card of saying, I want to go back to movies I grew up watching where the hero got beaten up, he’s the old gunslinger who’s a bit rusty and cops a lot of hits and to me, that was the cherry on the cake of what I wanted to achieve in regards to the action.
Sam talks about his favorite villains in films in general.
“I like all of them,” he says, “It’s how you make them different. I went back and me and Jonathan looked at movies like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon and old westerns where the action and the villains they meant something. In this, when the Chimera appears, we boo him because he’s killing the whole village. It’s how to take these action scenes and ground them and create a villain that’s worth booing.”
“Hades, Ralph [Fiennes], to his credit, creates a villain that’s worth booing at the start,” Worthington continues, “Kronos itself is a villain worth booing. Sometimes in spectacle movies you can lose sight of that. I just got that drilled into my head by Jim [Cameron], create villains that not only do you want to cheer, but are worth booing in a big cinema or IMAX. All of them have that. The Minotaur is a horror movie in itself. It’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You don’t see him until the end. It’s Aliens.”
Worthington mentioned what he takes away from Greek mythology for the Titans films.
“You have to do your best to ground it,” Sam says, “Don’t get caught up in that Zeus is the god of gods.”
Since the new 3D technologies have emerged, movies released in the format have largely been very hit or miss in the box office. Having done Avatar, which is one the most successful film ever to be released in 3D, Sam talks about what he believes makes a good 3D movie.
“Make it good!” Worthington simply states, “I’ve been in the one that was most revered and in the most slated. [Laughs] Jim [Cameron]’s drilled 3D into my head and what the complexities of it is and how it can be utilized and I know that definitely on this, me and [directing] Jonathan [Liebesman], that was one of my first meetings with Jonathan was if you’re gonna come into this, how are you gonna shoot it? You gonna shoot it in 3D? If you convert it, are you gonna have a stereoscopic guy on set the whole time? How are we gonna do this because I don’t want to be wearing the brunt in a situation like this when it comes to 3D, which is something that in a way is out of my hands. If used correctly, I’ve always said it can draw you into a world, and with movies like this, it’s perfectly. With blockbusters, it’s perfect. It can draw you into a world. If used incorrectly, I’ve been a part of it, it can give someone an aneurism. And it takes you out of the story.”
“But I know, with this, the studio and him have definitely been on point, from the first conversation they had,” he adds, “Audiences are smart. They know when the 3D is put on just to get money. And they know that the 3D can be kind of simple. This, I believe the guys push themselves to push the 3D for them, I know it wasn’t tacked on as a moneymaker and I think audiences notice that. They’re going to see it with Titanic in 3D as well. They’re going to know that Jim hasn’t just tacked it on to get extra bucks. He’s pushing himself. He knows that audiences are smart enough to see that. They’re smart enough to see it in a preview before another movie, whether the 3D is going to kick in or not.”
Worthington talked about the importance of filming Wrath on location on places like the Canary Islands off of Africa.
“Me and Jonathan talked about this, one of the great thing about these movies, you got to go to these epic places,” Sam says, “That’s what helps you tell the story. You can’t buy Tenerith, you can’t buy the big pit mines of Wales that we go, you can’t put that on the back of a studio. It’s a lot of fun. I love it. I think it gets you out of the green screen for a bit.”