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:
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.
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.
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]