Is Sam Worthington Weathering Some Post-Avatar Bad Luck?


First things first: most up-and-coming actors would kill for Sam Worthington's career. After receiving James Cameron's imprimatur via the lead role in Avatar, Worthington was cast to topline two additional tentpoles -- Terminator Salvation and Clash of the Titans -- before Cameron's blue movie had even come out. Not bad, right?

No, but it could be better. The four films Worthington has made since Avatar have all been tumultuous productions, and two of them may not even come out in theaters. You know things are bad when a James Cameron shoot is your least trouble-plagued production of the last three years. Here's the rundown of Worthington's bad luck:

Terminator Salvation

Worthington's first big role after booking Avatar was opposite Christian Bale in McG's attempt to continue the Terminator franchise. As Bale's infamous bellows made clear, it was not an easy set. Complicating things even further were the massive rewrites that afflicted Salvation before and after principal shooting, all of which were comprehensively catalogued by CHUD's Devin Faraci. The result was a hybrid Terminator itself, grafted together from older versions of the script and newer versions rewritten to please Bale and beef up his part.

The film was released to bad reviews and an underwhelming box office take, seriously denting McG's ambition to continue the story with Worthington in two more films. Not helping matters: the Terminator screen rights tumbled toward a bankruptcy sale shortly after, with Santa Barbara-based hedge fund Pacificor picking them up for under $30 million.

Clash of the Titans

Clash has spent two weekends at number one, but it was a bumpy ride getting there. The film was notoriously converted to 3D in a rushed outsourcing job that left many critics complaining about the blurry, dark picture, and before that, there'd been extensive reshoots that made Clash nigh-incomprehensible. Once again, Faraci has the inside story on the film that was originally shot: an adventure movie with political undertones and character motivations that made sense. Instead, a meddling studio forced director Louis Letterier to shoot new scenes that softened Liam Neeson's Zeus, reduced many of the actors to glorified extras, and completely reconfigured the central romance of the film.

Last Night

Worthington in non-action hero mode? That's what Last Night offers, with the actor playing husband to Keira Knightley and trying to resist temptation from Eva Mendes. "Sam is one of the most exciting leading men I've worked with in a long time as far as someone who's new and fresh and such a committed actor," Mendes raved to Movieline back in November. Unfortunately, you may never get to see his work, as Last Night is one of several films left in limbo after the death of Miramax.

The Debt

If we're really talking about bad luck, director John Madden makes Worthington look positively blessed. Madden's had nothing but trouble since helming Shakespeare in Love: Captain Corelli's Mandolin flopped, Proof was mishandled and awards-shunned, and the Weinsteins shelved his thriller Killshot before essentially dumping it on DVD. Perhaps it comes as no surprise, then, that Madden's team-up with Worthington on the revenge thriller The Debt has been beset by problems: like Last Night, it's one of the projects left homeless in the wake of Miramax's shutdown.

To be fair, the current state of filmmaking and distribution is tough on everyone, not just Worthington (and if you don't believe me, I've got a Julia Roberts/Ryan Reynolds movie that can't get released). Still, if Sam's gotten any clout from starring in the biggest movie of all time, he may want to insist on a locked script and a firm distribution pattern during his next time at bat.

[Photo Credit: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images]


  • TurdBlossom says:

    Having seen Clash of the Titans this weekend, I think Sam Worthington will end up being one of those "whatever happend to?" movie stars.
    He lucked out and got three high profile roles.

  • ALLAN says:

    This post is what humans call 'a stretch' or, 'get me a post about Sam Worthington, I don't care what, you have 20 minutes'.

  • The Winchester says:

    Sam Worthington: The Orlando Bloom of the "Twenty-tens".
    (Patent pending)

  • sarah says:

    Oh please, what a load of BS.
    Terminator makes $375 million worldwide, only $10 million less than Star Trek and yet is considered a flop??? Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time with $2.8 billion and Clash of the titans is already up to $250 million after a, someone needs to
    gain some perspective here.
    To me critics and bloggers have all jumped on the same bandwagon regarding dare he be so successful, lets nitpick
    about him anyway we can and put him in his place....sour grapes much???

  • mike says:

    Well if you've looked over the original direction of the screenplay prior to Bale's involvement you would see that it was going to be even worse. If anything Bale helped the film get back on track at least to a minor extent. The main character of this franchise has always been the Connor's. The most distracting thing about the new film is how it keep cutting to Worthington's story when it really should focus more on how Connor became the resistance leader. In the original script, Connor was barely in it and he was killed off in the end. Sorry but coming from a Terminator fan that would have pissed me off even more than the direction they took.

  • snickers says:

    Worthington needs more acting and accent training before appearing in any more movies. Some charisma would help too.

  • nam says:

    I loved Terminator Salvation. Clash was okay.

  • sally says:

    Sam Worthington IS very charismatic, you only have to watch him
    in interviews to see he's very funny with a self deprecating sense of humour plus he's very very HOT. The fact he won an AFI award for best actor in Somersault speaks for itself about his acting ability. In Clash of the Titans he used his own accent as did the other actors, there was a mixture of Irish, English, Australian and Swedish.

  • novi says:

    AVATAR THE BEST MOVIE, i love avatar

  • Tom says:

    Clash was okay, not the best writing, but it was fun. T4 rocked, but, again, writing was weak. Avatar, however, was AWESOME and fun and had a great story. And looked spectacular. I agree that this does appear like as if a bit of a lucky fluke in hindsight, but that's no reason for him not to remain working steadily thoughout his career. This post runs along the same old build 'em up to bring them down mentality. Bah, who cares? Better seeing Worthington up there than Justin Timberlake.

  • Ben says:

    He's so short, heard he wears lifts to get him to 5.8 and I saw him on Leno - not very polished...

  • I saw a news item concerning that on TV the other night. Thanks for explaining it more thoroughly