This morning at the Los Angeles press day for his new film The Debt, Sam Worthington took a short break from discussing the politically-charged new thriller from director John Madden and offered a few insights about his approach to the Clash of the Titans sequel, Wrath of the Titans. In addition to talking about the “weighty” approach he is taking to the sequel, he discussed his participation in the development process and how it reflects his larger attitudes about taking on blockbusters going forward.
Q:How tough is it to balance smaller, independent films with blockbusters?
Sam Worthington: I think I’m pretty lucky to start with. If you get something like “Avatar,” it opens up a lot of big blockbuster doors. But there was a thing my mate told me years ago, when I said, “Oh, there’s a great independent script and a great blockbuster script, and the independent thing will show me off more as a character.” He said, “But which movie would you go and see?” He said, “You go see blockbusters.” And that’s how I pick. I pick which movie by “would I want to go see something like ‘The Debt’?” Or, “Do I want to see something like ‘Terminator’?” And within that, you kind of by chance end up with a career that balances. You’re not just sitting there going, “I’m going to do one big one for them, and one small one for me.” That’s kind of the ideal, at least that’s what people think. But when you talk with Christian Bale, he’s not thinking, “one for you, one for them”, hes thinking “one for me what story do I want to tell?” And whether it’s “Terminator” or “The Fighter,” that’s how he picks.
Q: After doing something like “Texas Killing Fields,” how difficult is it to go from material that is so weighty to something like “Clash of the Titans 2”?
Worthington: You make “Clash 2” weighty. “Clash 1” is a video game. You make “Clash 2” weighty. You take everything you’ve learned, and go, I’m not doing this f–ing sh*t! I’m going to do a weighty script in a blockbuster. That’s the bigness of a blockbuster. They’re very hard because they’re done by such a machine, so you try to get that weight that an independent can allow you, that freedom that they have on an independent script, and then you try to fit it into a blockbuster where there’s a whole set of people who have a say. With something like “Clash 2,” that’s definitely what we’ve aimed for. And that’s all I really want to say on that.
Q: Do you have to do that at the script stage or in the individual development of your character?
Worthington: You do it all of the way through. You sit down with the studio, you sit down with the character, you sit down with everybody and have a whole different look at how we’re going to handle it. But that’s the hard thing about making blockbusters, because they’re just churning them out; they give you five months and the date’s already pre-planned for the next year. There’s a speed on it. But if you can get that weight and gravity into a blockbuster, even into the character I’ve let slip myself a couple of times but that’s going to be changing. You’ve got to work a bit harder, I find. Blockbusters aren’t necessarily as easy as you think.
Q: I guess I’m thinking of the seriousness or weight of material like “Texas Killing Fields.”
Worthington: You’ve got to bring that weight. You’ve got to bring that weight into “TRON,” know what I mean? You’ve got to try. And sometimes it’s harder because it’s a bigger juggernaut.
Q: It seems like it takes extra effort on your part to do protect yourself.
Worthington: Yeah. I decide what I want to bring, to come in there and go, look, I’ve just done this thing, and we mapped it out this way. How do we get that same kind of reality and gravity and grit on a green screen, with fantasy creatures? What are we actually really trying to say? “The Debt” what is it trying to say? What is “Killing Fields” really trying to say? What do we really want audiences to walk away from “Clash 2” with in their heart more than, whoa that’s a great spectacle? When you look at “Avatar,” you find the balance is perfect. He knows what he wants to say, and he gives you the spectacle. It’s very rare; it’s a hard thing. But that’s why I like doing blockbusters, to try and get that.
Wrath of the Titans is planned to hit theaters on March 20, 2012.