Sam Worthington Interview
Musings on Actor Responsibility, Weird Phobias and
By Beverly Cohn
Sam Worthington as former Detective Nice Cassidy
in "Man On A Ledge." Photo Courtesy of
Summit Entertainment. Photo by: Myles Aronowitz
ritish born, but raised in Australia from the age of six months,
Sam Worthington is yet another hunky Aussie actor joining the action
hero ranks of his fellow Aussies Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson, Hugh
Jackman, Paul Hogan, Heath Ledger, Eric Bana and the original swashbuckler
hero, Errol Flynn. Worthingtons body of work includes his seminal
role in Avatar, Hollywoods all-time highest grossing
film, as well as featured roles in Terminator Salvation, Clash
of the Titans, The Debt, and the critically acclaimed
Somersault, for which he was honored with Australias
highest film award for his performance.
Worthington recently sat down with a select group
of journalists to discuss, among other topics, his latest film, Man
On A Ledge. Directed by Asger Leth, this is a caper movie with
lots of plot twists and turns. The cast includes Ed Harris, Edward Burns,
Jamie Bell, Anthony Mackie, Titus Welliver, Genesis Rodriguez, and Kyra
The following has been edited for continuity and
Bev: Whats the first thing you look for in
a script and what attracted you to Man on a Ledge in view
of your acrophobia?
Perched on a ledge 227 feet in the air, Sam Worthington's
Nick Cassidy threatens to jump. Photo Courtesy of Summit
Entertainment. Photo by: Myles Aronowitz
Sam: Im not really afraid of heights Im
afraid of falling and the landing, thats what Im worried
about. Being up there wasnt as painful as I thought it was going
to be. The first time I went out on the ledge was nerve racking so I
said roll the cameras so when you see me step out for the first time
in the movie, that was actually the first time I stepped on to the ledge.
Everything was real so I thought we might as well capture that. After
a while, you get to be more comfortable and confident. Also, I think
at 227 feet up in the air, most people would be acrophobic. (laughs)
Bev: When you read the script, what jumped out
no pun intended and made you decide to do the part?
Sam: (laughs) Ive known the producer Lorenzo
(di Bonaventura) for a long time and wanted to work with him
because I like the movies he makes not only Transformers
and Red, but he did a lot of movies with Mark Wahlberg and
was one of the guys who took a chance and put together the Matrix.
He makes movies for an audience and wants to give them their moneys
worth and thats kind of my psychology. My job is to make sure
the audience gets its moneys worth that they go to the
movies and get their sixteen-bucks worth. The script itself resembled
The Negotiator, with Samuel L. Jackson and Phone Booth,
with Colin Farrell and I liked those movies so lets just steal
a little bit from them and make our own version and make an unashamedly
popcorn movie which an audience can enjoy. So thats why I chose
it. I wanted to make a fun, entertaining movie.
"When youre up there, theres not
much to do except to enjoy the view and think about things." Photo
Courtesy of Summit Entertainment. Photo by: Myles Aronowit
Bev: Youre an action kind of guy and dont
like to be confined. How did you deal with this role?
Sam: It was weird out there. A lot of times I was by
myself when they were setting up a different camera shot or a crane
shot. The cast is inside the director is not around hes
on an earpiece with me so to me it was a solitary kind of time. It was
just me and the pigeons. When youre up there, theres not
much to do except to enjoy the view and think about things. To be quite
honest, it was quite soothing and I didnt mind it.
Bev: Was there one scene in this film that was particularly
Sam: The car chase scene. I think people underestimate
how hard action is because its not just get in the car and drive
fast; its a whole technicality of where the cameras are going
to be, safety precautions, what the route is. In any kind of action
scene, I find you spend more time on it than on a dialogue scene for
a number of reasons. I really loved helping in designing and constructing
it, so it was great to be a part of that all the way through. Talk to
Tom Cruise about action. Hell tell you how detailed you have to
be. Were on the edge of our seats because we think its sometimes
life and death but when you filming it, sometimes it is life and death.
"I love doing stunts. You know youre
perfectly safe and youre not going to hurt yourself." Photo
Courtesy of Summit Entertainment. Photo by: Myles Aronowit
Bev: After doing this film how far would you go with
Sam: I love doing stunts. You know youre perfectly
safe and youre not going to hurt yourself. The insurance is too
high so they wouldnt let you get hurt. But I think the audience
demands it and gets a kick out of it and it helps the story and the
authenticity of the story. They have me driving that car real fast and
it was great fun. I get to do stuff that I would normally get arrested
for and I get paid for it. (laughter)
Bev: Do you have any other phobias?
Sam: Ive got lots of little fears - nothing big;
just weird things. I dont have any big phobias like sharks or
spiders or the end of the world. I get scared of small things like fluorescent
lights because they dont cast a shadow. I get scared because I
wonder why that light doesnt have a shadow. Thinking about it
s you up. (laughter) Your shadow is supposed to be indicative
of your soul so every time you go into a shopping mall your soul is
sucked away. Weird isnt it and it kind of freaks me out. Theres
a lot of other stuff that I really dont want to go into. (laughter)
Bev: Anything else?
Sam: Yeah. Why is when you get a package in the mail,
its called a shipment, but when you put a package on a boat, its
called cargo. What the f
s going on there? (laughter)
Ed Harris co-stars as David Englander, a ruthless
businessman. Photo Courtesy of Summit Entertainment.
Photo by: Myles Aronowitz
Bev: How was it working with the great Ed Harris
who plays one of the bad guys?
Sam: To be honest, I was nervous as anything - more
nervous than going on the ledge. When you meet him, you realize hes
a gentle man; hes intense but thats because he takes his
job seriously. Hes one of the best there is. Every time I looked
at him I kept thinking its Pollack, its John Glenn, he created
Truman and Beethoven. So I couldnt shake that out of my head that
he created all these memorable performances and thought to myself you
better pull it together man. (laughter) I better deliver
for this guy. He held Alcatraz hostage; whats he going to do with
me. (much laughter) So you do your scenes with him and you go
man, its an honor to be able to work opposite you and watch
you work and its an honor to have you in this film. Thanks.
Bev: Were you a kid when you decided to become an
Sam: I was nineteen when I went to drama school. (Australia's
National Institute of Dramatic Art) A guy told me that I could make
a career of this if I would calm down. At that time, it didnt
seem like a proper job and I didnt take it that seriously. But
I got advice from this guy, who isnt with us anymore, and he basically
said that I should use all that energy and put it into my work and think
of what my work is about. He said that my job is to primarily entertain
people - so its not about me, its about them.
Bev: Are you making films at home (Australia)?
Sam: I try to. I did this surf film down there in August
last year. The thing is with Australian movies is that we dont
make that many movies at home about 12 a year, if that. Its
very hard to get movies made. Theyre government funded and theres
a lot of prerequisites to make them so you get a lot of stumbling blocks.
Its just because its a small cottage industry. Thats
my plan though. To give back to the industry that helped me start my
Bev: Do you still have time to surf and whats
the biggest wave youve ever surfed?
Sam: Yes. I spend most of my time in Hawaii. I love
it there. Big waves. They had a 25 footer last week. Its as big
as this room. My biggest wave was six to eight feet. Thats about
it. But thats big.
Bev: Hows Wrath of the Titans?
Sam: Its awesome and I absolutely love it. I think
I kind of dropped the ball on the first one (Clash of the Titans)
and dont like what I did. I looked at Perseus (his character)
and realized that I didnt even have a character. Hes just
a generic bland action hero who could be played by anybody and thats
not what I should be doing thats not my job. I got a responsibility
to the audience to create a character that we want to go on a journey
with and I didnt do that, for whatever reason, so on this one,
to get a second chance, is a real nice thing. I literally did sit down
with Jonathan (Director, Jonathan Liebesman) and we mapped out
what I wanted to say as Perseus and what I wanted to create and hopefully
youll have empathy with this character and want to go on his journey.
So we still have all the big blockbuster spectacles big ass monsters
but now theres a heart and thats what I didnt
do before. I f
.d up, and thats o.k. because Im lucky
enough to get a second chance. Thats our responsibility to an
audience to tell stories that invite them in not distance
Sam Worthington's Nick Cassidy in pursuit of the
bad guy. Photo Courtesy of Summit Entertainment. Photo
by: Myles Aronowit
Bev: Have you ever gotten injured during a shoot?
Sam: Ive gotten bumps and bruises, but I think
my 11-year-old nephew gets more bumps and bruises in his backyard.
Bev: You were linked to a James Bond project. Would
you like to play that role?
Sam: No. I dont want big movies that are franchises.
I wouldnt want to see a Bond movie with me in it. I just wouldnt.
I choose my movies by that rule.
Bev: Is Avatar 2 almost ready to start
shooting and do you make any contributions to the development process?
Sam: I see Jim (Writer/Director James Cameron)
next week so Ill get the next update. I know that hes still
writing it. Hes told me the story and as you listen to whats
he doing, you can say, Jimmy, what about this? And hell
say This is my f
..g movie, so shut up. (laughter)
No. Thats a lie. Hes extremely open and very collaborative,
and listens to you. But what hes designing and where he wants
it to go is monumental and hes only going to go when hes
ready to go. Thats how Jim works. Hes going to push the
technology, hes going to push the way we do it, hes going
to push the story, explore the planets, explore everything. Its
big and an exciting next chapter of Avatar. I cant
wait to get back into it. Jim changed my life.
Bev: Do you get many scripts thrown at you?
Sam: Yeah. I just pick movies that I would go and see.
Something like Man On A Ledge is a fun popcorn movie that
you dont have to take too seriously, and I would go and see it.
Bev: Would you like to make a non-action film?
Sam: Id like to make a comedy. I think me, Russell
Crowe, and Christian Bale in a comedy. (big laughter) You see,
youre all laughing already.
Bev: So who would be the female lead and when will
you be holding auditions? (Much laughter)
Sam: I think we need a glass of wine. (much laughter)