Wrath of the Titans - Sam Worthington
Wrath of the Titans - Perseus (Sam Worthington) © 2012 Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures

From his blockbusters, Avatar, Terminator Salvation and Clash of the Titans, to his critically acclaimed performances in indie films such as Somersault and The Debt, it’s obvious that Sam Worthington has a career any leading man would envy.

He reprises his role of Perseus in Wrath of the Titans, opening this Friday. It’s ten years later, and Perseus is attempting to forget the demons of the past and live a tranquil fisherman’s life with is son, Helius (John Bell).

While interviewing Sam for his movie Man on a Ledge he admitted that being able to play Perseus again was ‘the best thing that’s ever happened to me.’ The reason? ‘I personally don’t think I did a good job in [Clash of the Titans]. I let down the audience. I made Perseus just a generic, bland, action conduit.’

So at the press junket for Wrath of the Titans, which took place in New York, Worthington was asked this important question:

How did you want to portray Perseus differently in the sequel?

Perseus (Sam Worthington) © 2012 Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures

I’ve been pretty vocal about how I felt personally about the first film and what I did in it. I haven’t done it in a way of putting the first one down at all, it’s just my responsibility in this one to try and create a character rather than just be a conduit for the action.

This is a dysfunctional family who just happen to be Gods in a world of monsters. I kept going back to that. Every action scene was how does this relate to a family?

The family story became the main factor in amongst this big, spectacular blockbuster. If we lost sight of that, then some of the kind of things that I felt were misplaced and misdirected in the first one might have come back to haunt us, and I didn’t want that.

On his first quest [in Clash of the Titans], Perseus had lost everyone that mattered to him and was out for revenge, so on some level it probably didn’t matter to him if he lived or died. But now he’s matured, has a kid he loves dearly, and is content with his life.

He sees the world differently; he doesn’t want that world to change.

Unlike before, he is now reluctant to join the fight. It’s not an easy decision, and his hesitation really comes from trying to determine what he feels is right: does he leave his son to help his father, Zeus (Liam Neeson), or stay with his son and leave his father to go it alone?

What was it like working with John Bell?

Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Agenor (Toby Kebbell), Korrina (Lily James) and Perseus (Sam Worthington) © 2012 Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures

I love John Bell. He’s a great kid. And it was a tough role, because he’s really the heart of the movie, which had to be established in a relatively short time. But he stepped up and he did a great job.

These kinds of stories are hundreds of years old, why do think we’re still interested in them?

I just feel that they deal with big themes like destiny and responsibility and big family values that are still relevant to us today. That’s why you got these mythological tales or folklore tales that survive because we can find relevance in them in our own society and our own way now.

At the Clash of the Titans junket you mentioned that you’d learned the advantage of having something practical to work with when dealing with the effects scenes. Given that this film has even more complex effects, did that approach work again or did you have to come up with a different way to act with the CG?

Perseus (Sam Worthington) © 2012 Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures

It’s a more improved version of interacting in the sense that in this one [director] Jonathan (Liebesman) is very good at combining the practical with the special effects. He’s learnt a lot of techniques himself, a lot of those explosions are real so you’re dealing with an abundance of more practical stuff to interact with.

It’s simple: you have to believe in the world. When my nephew runs around pretending he is fighting monsters, it’s the same thing. As long as you commit and believe, then the audience will also commit and believe.

We know it’s computer generated, because Kronos and Cyclops and Chimera don’t exist, but if I dive into the situation 100 percent, then hopefully the audience will follow and not be pulled out of the world.

What was your favorite scene to work on?

Helius (John Bell) and Perseus (Sam Worthington) © 2012 Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures

The scene with the Minotaur [who guards the labyrinth]. We’d talked way back about having a labyrinth, the fact that it moves I thought was really a cool concept. The fact that we had a set that actually moved was fantastic for us.

I like that scene because it was a brutal fight and I thought it was different. To me it was the trump card of saying, ‘I want to go back to movies I grew up watching, where the hero got beaten up.’

The old gunslinger who is a bit rusty, and [who gets hit a lot] and to me it was the cherry on the cake of what I wanted to achieve in the action.

Are you careful to keep the Greek mythology true to its origins?

This is not a history lesson, these movies have never been like that for me. We just utilize these great characters, creatures, situations and journeys. I think to me that’s the most exciting thing.

I like the fact that we are mining this world to create our own mythology, to create our own canon of stories. I get excited by that prospect.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane