Movie stars sometimes react poorly to the questions journalists ask them.
Just ask Avatar star Sam Worthington, who became frustrated at my seemingly tame question on a movie set last year.
I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico; visiting Worthington on the set of Terminator: Salvation.
Worthington had just finished filming a particularly violent scene and was dressed in full make up and costume.
Being so inside the scene obviously made him a little cranky.
ME: “Can you explain how a couple of years ago no-one really knew who you were, and then next year you’re probably going to have the two biggest films of the year coming out in Terminator and Avatar?”
WORTHINGTON: “We’ll find out next year, ask me next year.”
ME: “Yes, but right now it must feel great now to be part of two massive movies, and….”
WORTHINGTON: [frustrated] “Just ask me next year, man! I’m just doing my job!”
Yes, he wasn’t in the best of moods that day.
But you can forgive him because he’d been filming for 12 hours straight and I’d got him just minutes after a particularly stressful scene.
A year later, I interviewed him again and he was much more relaxed and friendly and gave me some great gossip about making both movies – Avatar and Terminator Salvation.
Below is an interview with Worthington about Avatar the movie, conducted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Friday May 8 last year.
After director James Cameron plucked him from relative obscurity several years ago to star in Avatar, Hollywood rushed to capitalize on his new buzz.
Thousands of people around the world have been talking about the film’s 3D effects, via their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and in person.
The film, which also stars Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver and breakout star, Zoe Saldana, is another great adventure of Cameron.
Enjoy the interview with Worthington below…
Interview with SAM WORTHINGTON at Beverly Hilton hotel on Friday, May 8
You’ve come from obscurity in Australia to be starring in two of the biggest and most anticipated films of all time in Terminator Salvation and Avatar. What has this last year been like for you?
I’m enjoying the ride, for starters. Any actor wants their movies and their work to be seen. You don’t make a movie or get into this profession for your work not to be seen and just to show them to your mates at home. So I’m liking the fact that people are going to get to see my work and fingers crossed, they’ll like what I’ve produced. We’ll soon find out, won’t we? I might not be working next year. And all this, it’s just on a bigger scale than what we do in Australia.
Are you based in Australia or the US now?
I go where the work is. I don’t have a real home. When I got Avatar I sold everything that I owned because I knew it was going to be a long journey. I’ve got two bags and that was four years ago and I’ve been working ever since and I’ve still only got two bags—a bag of books and a bag of clothes. That’s about it. My base at the moment is up the road with my mates.
What’s in the book bag?
Just lots of books that inspire me and that I’ve read, over the years.
Can you give a little bit of your background and how you got into acting?
I was a brick layer. I built houses and never wanted to act. When I was 19, I met a young girl who auditioned for the premier drama school. I auditioned with her for moral support, to cheer her along. I got in and she didn’t, and she dumped me a week later. We weren’t seeing eye to eye. I didn’t know what wings on the stage were. I thought Chekov was on the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek. I didn’t realize he wrote plays. So, I was a sponge that took everything in. And then, you finish your sentence after three years and they release you for good behavior, if you’re lucky, and you go and work, and you learn how to act. I’m still an infant in this, but it’s been 10 years. I’ve always thought that you do as much as you can, in your own country, so you can sit in a room with Jim Cameron or McG and offer something. That’s my apprenticeship. You don’t build a house and then go, “Hey, can I do the Twin Towers project?” No one’s going to give you the job. So, my belief is that you do as much as you can, and I looked at other actors in Australia who have done the same thing.
People say you work for free but get paid to promote—agree?
Yeah, pretty much, totally. I’m Australian, we work for free anyway.
So, you’re okay with all of the hype that comes along with projects like these?
That’s just part of the fun, isn’t it? I guess I’ll find out. My mates are sick of seeing my head. If this happened when I was 22, it could be a bit overwhelming. I’m 32. I know who I am, so I’m just going to enjoy the ride. As long as it doesn’t affect my work, and I keep producing work of a certain quality, that keeps me in the game, then I’m okay. As soon as it starts affecting what I can achieve, or I feel that I’ve got nothing to offer, I’ll go back to brick laying.
What did you think of it in 3D?
3D for Jim is like digital for Danny Boyle. That’s just the format Jim likes. He believes it brings the audience more into the screen. It’s not ooga-booga, it’s literally you’re looking around shit. And with it being photorealistic it actually pings in a lot better. Your brain starts to buy it. It doesn’t get distracted and distanced. You believe you’re on Pandora.
Did you have that kind of immersive experience while watching it?
Yeah from what I’ve seen in 3D, yeah. It looks like we shot it in Hawaii, it’s that fucking real.
Are there themes in Avatar of a post-apocalyptic world that are similar themes to this movie?
Kind of, in the sense of hope, that’s definitely a theme in Avatar and this. Humanity, people finding hope in desperate times, which is good in this day and age.
Were you psyched to go toe to toe with Christian Bale in your scenes with him in Terminator Salvation?
I was chained up, and I was nervous as hell because he’s a guy that I’ve watched his work and I admire. This is a guy whose movies I’ve rented at the video store and here he is in front of me. Half the time I’m looking at him going, ‘this ain’t fucking real, is it? Oh shit I’ve got a line!’ He’s extremely giving. People call him intense, it’s the wrong word. He’s dedicated. He’s passionate about the story. He doesn’t give a crap about selling it. He gives a crap about the story, are we on the right path? Are we telling the story? I love that.
What surprised you about Christian Bale as you got to know him?
That he doesn’t care about how big his trailer is. He walks around in his fucking track pants and he’s dedicated to the work. A guy of that kind of magnitude or that big a star who isn’t walking around like ‘I’m the fucking king’ I love that. He’s there for the work.
Where did you shoot Avatar?
Eight months on a motion capture stage in the US and five or six in New Zealand.
You must be craving a drawing room comedy…
I did a drama called Last Night, just me, Eva Mendes and Keira Knightley in New York, in normal dress and I craved a gun and a sword, to be honest with you. It was bizarre. The kissing scenes – I wasn’t getting the same sort of rush! [laughs]
PART 2 of the same interview coming next week!
Update: Interview with Sam Worthington, Part II
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