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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  • Morgan says:

    I don't know if my following comment has specifically to do with Worthington, who doesn't do anything for me either, than with a casting trend in general...
    Worthington is just boring to *listen* to. His narration in Avatar just about stopped the movie cold for me. And it seems to me that more and more over the years, actors are being cast for some sort of beefy-generic "action hero" look than any other considerations, including what they sound like. The voice is an actor's prime instrument (used to be, anyway) and these days all we get are guys with six-pack abs who talk like they're half stoned.
    You're right: there are no quirks to Sam Worthington. Chris Pine, I dunno, I agree is more interesting than Worthington but then again he has a higher pitched voice and that seems to make a difference for this viewer.

  • IheartSam says:

    I must disagree. I think Worthington's quietness and subtlety as an actor really worked well for this film. I'm not refuting that he doesn't tend to stick out (perhaps like a sore thumb) like other mega stars such as Pine or Farrell. But with those stars what you tend to lose is versatility and a suspension of disbelief. They fail to blend into their role and their world as easily as some others and just become a personality set in a certain story. Tom Cruise. Jack Nicholson. Ben Stiller. They are all the same in every movie, and you usually see them first before you see the story. By casting Worthington, Cameron was able to place his focus on the world of Pandora, the beauty, grace, and ideologies of the Na'vi, and the emotional heart of the story itself without pulling his audience out of it by having us stare at a blue Julia Roberts (up for the role in Titanic at one point -- can you imagine?) for 3 hours. Are Jeff Daniels, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth not mega stars because they fail to stick out with idiosyncrasies? Or are they more of the true star because they can truly act and blend with each role?

  • Alex says:

    Eric Bana 2.0. A nice guy, a solid actor, and is nice to look at but at the same time is painfully dull.

  • Kevin says:

    Nah... don't make your conclucsion so quickly.
    Chris Pine looked good in Star Trek because the rols is supposed to. He would have gone to work in McDonald's now if he can't play some charm ou of Captain Kirk. Worthington was very good in T4 when, as you said, he had something to play for.
    No one would do an Oscar-worthy performance when majority of your role is in a CGI (and your role is not Gollum where you really need to over-act).

  • Ryan says:

    First of all, to IHEARTSAM - Nicholson definitely blends into his roles. He will always be regarded as one of the greats.
    I think a mega star can definitely blend into roles. Look at the late Heath Ledger. He was becoming a major movie star but managed to disappear within characters and provide amazing performances in Monster's Ball, Brokeback Mountain, Candy, and, most obviously, The Dark Knight.
    I think Jake Gyllenhaal is another example as well as Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp (though I'm not impressed with Depp's recent career choices).
    Worthington definitely has potential, but I'm not sure he will ever become a major A-list actor.

  • kristina says:

    I'd just like to comment as an Australian who has seen numerous sam worthington films. He is an actor, of high calibre and ability. whether he is a star, probably not, but he's a damn good actor and that at least should count for the work that he's done so far. I don't think any australian who comes to hollywood to make it 'big' ever comes in thinking, they're a star, it's more like "wtf?". Also, Do some research into the australian film industry and you will see that it is sadly and slowly becoming less and less existent so sadly our actors have to come to the US to get good work. thankfully there are ppl liek Cate blanchett who make it and come back. Sam is unaffected and a typical aussie guy. I'm sure once he gets where he needs to be he's gonna make some really interesting films as he has in his past.

  • Snarf says:

    Is Worthington a movie star? Time wil tell. Audiences onlky know him from Terminator Salvation and Avatar. With Clash of the Titans coming out in March he's certainly becoming a genre fixture. A couple more movies should tell us whethere or not he's got "it".

  • Mephisto says:

    I would think that if you have to ask the question, the answer is probably no. An actor shouldn't require several chances in big budget movies to prove that they are a star. It should be obvious the first time you see them in a major role.
    Sam, though not without his charms, has always given notably wooden performances. I had hoped an American director and script may have gotten the best out of him (Australian actors are routinely given horrible dialogue and direction in local films), but having seen him in two American movies now and recognising the same recurring problems it seems that what you see is what you get.
    As for Worthington's award for Somersault, the Australian film industry is very troubled, to the point of being totally crippled. Somersault is a mediocre movie, yet it cleaned up at the awards shows due to a total lack of any competition.
    It is also well known in the Oz industry that he was involved in a huge conflict of interest as a judge on project greenlight a few years back, as has been reported in the Australian press.

  • sarah says:

    I couldn't disagree more and I think you're missing the point by comparing Sam Worthington and Chris Pine in their respective roles.
    Pine had to stand out as he was playing the iconic James T. Kirk where as Worthington's Sully is a marine grunt. He played him perfectly, making him believable with his sense of wonder and quiet strength, anything else would have been over the top and taken you out of the film.
    For me, Sam Worthington has that "it" factor, the combination of being both very masculine and vulnerable at the same time. You don't very often see that with actors these days and I think this gives him that ability to appeal to both men and women and makes him so very watchable.
    I would much rather watch a versatile actor who can disappear into his roles as he has shown in his earlier Australian films than watch megastars like Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford etc. who play themselves over and over again. Worthington might just be that rare actor who can be both a huge star and a very good actor, time will tell of course.

  • 2+2=4 says:

    Please, once his agency hires a stylist to dress him up properly, not as a boy from the farm as he is now, and he gets some hot Hollywood lady to visit him "secretly" at nights, and not of Renee Zellweger or Drew Barrymore kind, he will start getting more star attention.
    This is extremely superficial Hollywood we are talking about. If they can turn such unpleasantly looking women as Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Aniston to stars, they can easily do it for Sam.
    In My Arrogant Opinion.

  • david says:

    He's not a movie star. But Avatar was about the CGI world. Not about the actors. T: Salvation was a bad movie. Hopefully Clash of the Titans will do something for Worthington's career. But so far, he hasn't generated that level of intrigue that people have for Chris Pine or, say, Robert Pattinson. But it takes more than one movie to make most stars.

  • sj says:

    @DAVID..."do something for his career"'re joking right???
    I think he's doing very very well, he's staring in a huge blockbuster like Avatar that most actors would kill to be
    As for Terminator Salvation, I actually liked the movie and Worthington stole the film from Bale. It's interesting that TS made $375 million and Star Trek $385 million worldwide yet TS is considered a flop according to critics yet fans around the world didn't agree with them.
    Worthington has already finished two other films, "last night" with
    Keira Knightley and "the debt" with Helen Mirren which will be released soon. lets see, Terminator Salvation, Avatar, Clash of the Titans, as well as two serious films with Mirren and Knightly all in the space of less than a year....not bad for "not a movie star"

  • Jeri says:

    Sorry to disagree but because you say Sam Worthington was a unknown actor before avatar; Sam was not a unknown in his country. If you watch Somersault which Sam won several award in Australia for; you will see a actor who has always stood out and will continue to stand out know that Hollywood has spotted him. Thank god they are looking outside the box for roles instead of using the same actor over and over; after awhile the actor is not acting and you can tell he is just collecting a pay check. In Avatar you could see the pain in Sam eyes from the lose he had to deal with; but after entering avatar's body you could see a total change in his character; more alive as he came back as human again. Loved everything he has done so far and I suggest you look at his past work in Australia and than say he is picked up out of the blue; like he was untrained actor before Avatar; PLEASE information is power. I would love to see Luke Goss and Sam in a movie next..

  • pavlinka shick says:

    i think he was a good choice since he looks like an ex-marine to me..

  • John says:

    I also disagree. Chris Pine played William Shatner. An over the top character. If he played Sully the same way, it would have been a disaster. Jake Sully was a person in Avatar, not a character, a person. His narrative was delivered just like you'd expect from a normal person. For me it worked perfectly.
    Also I liked T4. Worthington stole that movie from Bale as someone else said. I've very surprised they did him in.

  • Dave says:

    Thanks for being honest about this guy. I thought the same thing. Why is the lead in one of the biggest (American) blockbuster films of all time a virtual unknown (in America) with the personality of a wet towel? And why can't he speak in his native Australian accent? I know he's supposed to be American, but his American accent is Horrible which I think further suppresses any personality he might have. He couldn't force his R's any haRRRRRRder if he was a pirate!

  • eve says:

    By questioning both Australian actors act as Americans, when American actors act as foreigners all the time?! And yes, Sam Worthington is a star! It works beautifully, has an enviable voice, and appearance ...

  • Tracy says:

    Sam Worthington is slightly less interesting than watching paint dry. The dullest actor Hollywood has ever force fed us. Totally charisma-free.

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