I’m never good at keeping track of when it’s cool to like something and when it’s not cool anymore, so I’m not sure where we are in the cycle on “Avatar” and Sam Worthington in general. I like the guy. I think he’s been stiff in a few of the film he’s made, but I also see moments from him where there’s something special going on, and I totally get why directors keep casting him, hoping they’ll be the ones who figure it out and put it all together.
So far, John Madden might be the guy who gets to claim he directed Worthington to his best performance, and it was a pleasure to sit down with Worthington to talk about the film they made together, “The Debt,” which arrives in theaters this Friday.
Worthington always comes across to me like the President of the Don’t Give An F Club when it comes to what people think of him or how he does his job. As I understand it, that attitude is one of the things that got him the job in “Avatar” in the first place. I’ve interviewed him several times at this point, and I enjoy sitting down with him each time. I think he loves the work he does, but not talking about it, and I can respect that position. If people engage him in real conversation, though, he seems absolutely up for that. It’s the hollow exercise of staying on-message that I think drives him a little bit crazy, which I understand.
As I did with Zoe Saldana last week, I talked to Worthington a bit about returning to the world of “Avatar,” but I wasn’t trying to get him to give me a scoop. Right now, he’s not going to tell anyone anything about plot. Instead, what I’m curious about is the experience for actors of returning to a character a second time. He just wrapped a second “Titans” film as Perseus, and we talk about the way this one’s different than the first one, which is obviously very important to him and to the filmmakers. We also talk about how to play a character who is defined by a lack of reaction, and I think he’s got a smart take on it.
Overall, I know it feels like we get a ready-to-order “movie star” foisted on us every year, and it can be off-putting, but the actors aren’t really the ones manufacturing that instant fame. It’s a side effect of being lucky enough to do interesting work with good collaborators, and I think we’re still just starting to see who Worthington really is. His decision to make “The Debt” is a good indicator, though, that he’s not just a boring blockbuster guy, and that gives me hope for whatever’s up next for him.
“The Debt” opens this Friday.