Is Sam Worthington a Star?
Seeing Avatar made me appreciate two things above all else:
1) The sheer amount of man-hours required to invent the planet of Pandora and make it plausible, even beautiful
2) Chris Pine's performance in Star Trek
Sure, Pine had nothing to do with Avatar -- instead, James Cameron cast Australian actor Sam Worthington as his lead character, Jake Sully. Still, I couldn't help but be reminded of Pine's James T. Kirk because both Pine and Worthington played such similar arcs this year: Both of their cocky sci-fi assholes were gradually humbled by new, earnest friends, then found it within themselves to become the leaders we always knew they could be. So why did I watch Pine's take on his character and think "movie star," while with Worthington, I'm not so sure?
Worthington is at an interesting place in his career -- after Cameron plucked him from relative obscurity several years ago to star in Avatar, Hollywood rushed to capitalize on his new buzz and cast the 33-year-old in mega-tentpoles Terminator Salvation and Clash of the Titans. (That Terminator ended up coming out before Avatar is a testament to just how long Cameron's movie was in production.) The last comparable example I can remember, where a new leading man was anointed before general audiences had their chance to weigh in, was Colin Farrell earlier in this decade. Farrell, too, was a foreigner, and off the strength of his performance in the tiny Tigerland, he created such a Hollywood feeding frenzy that he landed lead after lead (including a huge paycheck for the film Hart's War) as a virtual unknown. Then, almost all of those hastily procured films flopped at the box office.
That said, if a fresh-faced Farrell had been cast in Avatar, I think he would have done a better job.
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