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Clash of the Titans – Sam Worthington on the duality of man

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Clash of the Titans - Medusa and Sam Worthington
Medusa and Perseus (Sam Worthington) © Warner Bros

In the second part of my interview with Sam Worthington, I asked him to compare his new movieClash of the Titans with the blockbuster Avatar, and his thoughts on what being a hero means.

What was the time period that you did this in terms of when you did Avatar?

Avatar - Sam Worthington
Avatar - Jake (Sam Worthington) meets his avatar © 20th Century Fox

I think that Avatar was still filming, to be honest. We were still going knowing Jim. When did I do this? I filmed Avatar in 2007 and then I finished, it was like fourteen months. Then straight after that I did Terminator Salvation and then started Clash of the Titans. I kept going back and forth between those movies. We kept going with Avatar right up until the last minute. I think that Jim called me one time after Clash.

Can you compare the experiences at all?

You can’t. Avatar was its own juggernaut; its own beast. We’ve seen it at the box office and I can tell you that filming it you can’t compare it to anything. But this experience compared to, say, Terminator was a lot tougher. I thought this would be a cakewalk, me in a dress, running around, that it’d be easy. It wasn’t because the way that Louis (Leterrier, the director) shoots is very fast. There’s a lot of energy on set. You’re running around with three cameras the whole time. So in that regard, going to these extreme locations, too, it was tougher than I thought, I must admit.

You’ve played a lot of heroes lately, what kind of character traits do you see in a hero?

Clash of the Titans - Nicholas Hoult and Sam Worthington
Eusebios (Nicholas Hoult) and Perseus (Sam Worthington) © Warner Bros

Heroic is not fighting. It’s actually getting off of the canvas or if someone else gets knocked down it’s you helping them get up. That’s how I look at it, my definition of a hero.

With Perseus in Clash of the Titans, I wanted him to be like a troublesome adolescent. He loses his family. The whole movie is about family in my book. He loses his adopted family and he is a boisterous teen. That’s how I wanted him to be, that he doesn’t listen to anybody. Out of that he finds a heroic quality through finding another family. He learns to calm down and maybe become an adult.

I think that every movie I do has a lot of similarities. There’s the duality of people, the duality of man. In this it’s half man and half god. In Terminator, it’s half man and half robot. In Avatar, it’s half man and half big blue alien. So I’m definitely either screwed up and searching for something in myself or the fact that I like that about characters.

I think that if you have a character who has an inner conflict like duality can give you and then you put him in other conflicts, then two things arise; either a villain or a hero. It’s as simple as that.

Heroism, as I said, doesn’t come out of basically what you believe you can do but it’s however people endow you with it. I think that by him learning to calm down and embrace his family they can then claim that he’s a hero. That’s how I look at heroism.

You’re garnering the kind of image that people might not be able to separate, the fact that these are escape movies and not you personally. Are you working hard to keep your identity separate from that?

Clash of the Titans - Sam Worthington
Perseus (Sam Worthington) © Warner Bros

I’m not out here to be a star. If you want to be a star you go on Big Brother. I’m out here to help the director facilitate his vision which is to tell these escape stories.

You write what you want about me on websites and newspapers but no one really knows me. They get the idea that I’m a tough, heroic kind of figure. I’m a sensitive pussycat and it’s a case where when I do my job I dive into these characters and try to flesh something out of myself and into these characters and so into the fabric of me. That hopefully translates well. But I don’t look at any disassociation.

I do movies that I would like to go and see. I think that’s a good barometer. (I want to be sure) the audience gets their $16 bucks worth. That’s my job.

Has Jim Cameron talked to you at all about the sequel to Avatar?

We have discussed Avatar II. He brought it up when we were filming it. He would have ideas to what we were filming in the first one. Obviously, we’re not going to go into that until Jim finds himself a challenge. He’s not the type of man that just goes into movies lightly. He’s especially not going to make a sequel to just make money.

We know that it’s been embraced by audiences and so we’re probably definitely going to undertake another one but it’s up to Jim to find a challenge to push himself. Avatar II has to push the boundaries like Avatar did. So I know he’s doing that.