Set Visit : Clash of the Titans

I’d firstly like to start by saying my thanks to Warner Bros, Maureen, Kate, Jason and of course my friends Louis Letterier and Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, Sam Worthington and Mads Mikkellsen for their time and treating me, as usual, brilliantly throughout my official visit to the “Clash of the Titans” set in the UK.

Assembled within a wind-flapping tent, just outside the main set. It’s an old, discussed army base and sat on the wobbly chairs upon the uneven ground, with our urn of hot water and cups of tea, it certainly retained the army feel. It was also a surprisingly hot day.

It’s around 3:15pm and Sam Worthington is on his way to the tent.

A Warner Bros PR rep escort Sam Worthington, looking as grubby as hell, wearing a tree green kilt, boots and a sack-cloth type top. His hair is short. His hands and face filthy with dirty and slight cuts visible. He sits at the rickety table side on to me, facing a group of journalists from around the world.

How’s your day been? S’good?

A little different to yours from the look of things.

Oh I dunno, mine’s been pretty easy. Easy day today. – They looking after you ok?

Good. Very well. (Shaking Sam’s hand) Hi Sam, I’m Ben, Moviehole Australia -

Hi Ben good to see yer.

You’ve been involved in some of the most anticipated films of the past couple of years. Terminator, Clash, and Avatar of course.

Which has just crashed the internet. The trailer came out about a second ago and no-one can download it. Yeah, er.. go on mate..

Your rise over the last year or so has been phenomenal..

yeah

Now Clash of the Titans, another huge, large-scale movie. Were you a fan of the original film at all?

Er.. I reacquainted myself with it obviously before we started shooting. I think I got about half way through it and turned it off. (laughter from other journos) – It’s a bit lightweight and tame. Camp and over the top to be honest. That was one of the reason why I talked to Louie about why we should re-boot it. For one of a better word because I believe that you know.. People.. they all come out of the closet and stuff say it was one of their favourite films but it’s bullshit. It may have been when they were a kid but it’s not up there with Casablanca or anything like that. I consider that now we can take, with Special Effects that we’ve got we can advance the thrills a bit more than Harryhausen’s stop motion effects. I also thought it was a bit dated with what it was trying to say. In the sense of the Perseus in that one. You know, he wants to do this as a god and destiny is pre-determined. I don’t think that’s a very good message to give to my nine year old nephew. So in our one, the spin I wanted has Perseus believes in the fact that he can do this as a man. You don’t need to have all the gods and all the god kinda tools they give him and also that.. you can change and make your own fate. That’s a good message of a nine year old kid or any other kid that sees this. You know? The messages of the old one.. you know.. I though were.. just a bit lightweight. We wanted to delve into the stories of the character a bit more. It’s what I kind of felt yeah. It was the reason to re-make it. Yeah.

What came first Avatar or Terminator?

Avatar.

When in your career do you think things have changed for you?

When Jim Cameron phoned me up. – he said er… ‘Would you like to come and meet me?’ So that was a turning point to meet him. And in secondly we were allowed to work together.

How excited should we be?

About Avatar?

Yes.

It’s um.. definitely different. I definitely gonna open up alotta doors to show people the potential of 3D. To show the possibility of performance capture can do. Um.. As well as Jim likes to push CG elements. To raise the bar. Hopefully.. Um.. People are saying it’s the be-all and end-all.. Its the beginning. That’s what I think Avatar is. It does get people excited, which is great. It pushes the CG guys. On Clash of the Titans.. They’re asking me what’s it like, which in turns pushes their own CG effects. I think that’s what Jim’s good at – opening up a door so that all film makers can go ‘man, there’s potential there in this new technology and I wanna get my hands onto it.’

Working with James Cameron and is very focused and hands-on with the effects. Is Louie like that as well?

Yeah, pretty much man. Louie.. If you look at Louie’s other movies, they’re action orientated.. They are effects driven like the Hulk – that has a lot of effects in it. So um.. he knows what he’s doing. Knows what he’s doing when dealing with green screen and the elements required to make it look realistic. So you’re not just acting with nothing.. Eyelines aren’t just fake. It’s um… a specifity.. a spec… is that a word? Um… He does what is required for that particular medium. I also like the fact that Louie is not afraid to throw a camera around. I mean, we’ve got three cameras rolling all the time here and he knows how to dive into action. *When it comes to story, he hires people like myself, Mads Mikkelsen, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and we kinda clean up the story and make it a bit tighter and we help him with the plot. So, you know, he’s extremely hands on at all bases and that’s a good director. One that is willing to realise it’s a collaboration and not a dictatorship.

Did you make any suggestions about your character at all?

All the time. Every minute. I think I busted Louie’s balls quite a bit to be honest. I think it’s every actor’s… that’s your… That’s your job.. To come in.. Take the black that is written on the white and make that ping. Give it life. Breathe everything you’ve got into it. And question. You know. Um.. I question everything all the time. Why why why. Um.. That to me is my job. It’s my job to help him facilitate his vision. To tell his story, but at the same time create a three dimensional character that an audience can relate to and hence go on the journey with regardless of whether it’s the future or Greek mythology. It continues all the time and er.. with me continuing to say ‘look he wants to do this as a man. That’s the big conflict for him. The duality that he’s got. You know, I looked at Perseus as a boystrous teenager. They kills his family. It’s a revenge mission that he decides to go on. Get revenge for the death. But it’s too headstrong. Too boystrous, too troublesome and for everybody else, he has to grow and reach out to the other journeymen and calm down and learn that you need a bit of help. I don’t need to be so argh, angry.. greedy, volatile. If you calm down, maybe you can get revenge in a smarter way. A unique way, Revenge isn’t necessarily involving chopping the head off Zeus.

Is that the way you’re dressed in the movie?

Pretty much. Er.. I get off the boat in this rag stuff and then.. and then they give me armour. Armour and a sword. Like it’s a Western. (pads his hips) Give him the guns and give him the hat. Go on the journey. The rest of the guys have got shields and helmets and countless other bags. I just complain about carrying them. It’s simplicity. Yeah, keep it simple.

Are you fighting a lot of real actors or a bunch of CGI bad guys?

Oh, mate.. er.. it depends.. it depends. From working on Avatar you have to make a nothing world as realistic as possible. It’s completely different hitting something that isn’t there. When you hit a guy in a green suit, your muscle action is gonna be different than hitting thin air. So, yeah, details like that, yeah, I’m all for and you have to take into account. As much as I’ve got to react off, like a scorpion – bang! Or some guy chasing you or if Medusa is coming after you, I’d much rather someone come after and chase me and then we um.. we remove him later. Those kinda things I like. A scorpion or a guy I can actually hit, that all helps. For me, acting is re-acting.

Did you do most of your own stunts?

Er.. yeah. I try to do as much as I can to be honest. I think any actor who says they got hurt a lot, they’re talking a little too much up themselves, so I try to keep that stuff to myself. But yeah, this is physical. There are massive action sequences. You know we live in.. nowadays, Bourne and the Dark Knight have raised it up. Batman would be standing on the edge of a building. That’s Christian. You get the opportunity to do a thing like that, Id jump at the chance. Put me on a ratchet – fly me around, yeah, I love it, What we were doing just then, I was jumping off the flying horse, onto these mattresses. I’d do it in a heartbeat. My job is to dive around and get thrown around. Its not that hard. You know, my nephew throws himself around in the back yard and does a lot more than I what I do. Doesn’t get hurt, but I do as much as I can. Hairy moments, bumps and bruises. About it.

Walking around on set it looks like you could be a big kid again.

With a movie like this, you’re under no illusion. It is what it is. It’s not a Ridley Scott precise every little detail.. it’s not. It’s a fun, popcorn, my Dad Saturday morning kinda movie. It has to be fun. The way to make this film ping is to dive right in like a five year old with a rubber sword, run around and killing scorpions. It is back yard fun and the only way we can invest in this.. if a five year old invests in this and gives it a chance.. if we knock it, then the audience wont believe in it. I get a kick out of it.

How was it riding Pegasus. Did the two of you get on?

I hate that horse! I hate that horse. I hate that horse to death. It’s got an attitude problem. Its done a lot more movies than me. It wont come out of its trailer.

Is there more than one?

We got several horses. The real ones I hate. As far as I’m concerned I wanted to knock it out, like Conan does to the camel. Put that in a scene. Then you gotta play with it. Down the route of Perseus and Pegasus not getting along. Its really cool I think, You know.. It’s not a simple fluffy horse with wings, It spits at me.. bites at me… its why I hate it.

I was told its black in the movie.

Yeah, its black, its dangerous and it hates me. Totally different. I always see it as that Pegasus is a mirror of Perseus, They’re linked by Io, which is Gemma’s character. And just like Pegasus has an attitude problem, Perseus does and they both need each other to calm down and go on with the F1-11 battle at the end of this. I like the mechanical horses a lot better.

How do you deal with the pressure of headlining these big movies?

How do I deal with the pressure? Um… It’s only slightly got a bit weird since my face was on buses going around London. That’s a bit weird. Seeing my big silly head. My life doesn’t really change that much. I come to work and I do my job, I wouldn’t be in this position if I didn’t do my job and try and do it to the best of my ability. Um, we’ll soon see after Avatar and all the hoopla effects.. You know, I’m a 33 year old Australian and there are a lot of friends of mine who if I get too big for my boots will put me back in my place. I’m very privileged to do the job I do. Just invest in it and have a lot of fun. That’s all I can do.

How is it seeing your face on action figures?

On action figures (laughing) – Well… My nephew pulled the head off my Terminator one. Within about an hour of having it.. er.. an my other mate who I gave one to I told him not to do any dirty shit with it to be honest (laughter from all around, including the WB) – I think he stuck it on the hood of his car, which is even funnier. Its slightly embarrassing, Some of them don’t look like it. The Terminator one looks like he’s from Mexico. Um, yeah.. we’ll soon find out about the rest of them.

Do they model you for the toy?

(laughing) – they did, they did yeah and I have access to say ‘change this’ and my mate says ‘if you have the right to say make me a bigger six pack, do so, cos you screwed up on the Terminator one that’s for sure!’ They’re meant to be modelled on us, but.. I know the Avatar ones are pretty succinct as they took a lot of body scans and pictures so they cant really stuff that up.

When you were working with James Cameron on Avatar did he discuss Terminator with you?

Um, I brought it up a little and he said, ‘look, just get back to work. Don’t screw it up. Let’s get back to Avatar.’ He’s kind of moved on from that. He sold the franchise a while back. He’s onto his own journey now.

Are you coming back for the next one?

For the fifth?

Yeah.

No. No. He’s dead anyway. It’s up to them.

They brought Arnie back.

(laughing) – Yeah, Ben yeah, exactly right… Yeah, I know McG has some ideas, Id work with him and Christian again like that (snaps fingers) – it’s up to them how they wanna take it.

Are you going to do Twenty Thousand Leagues with him?

Am I gonna do it? I actually saw that online. Made me laugh and he’s (McG) saying ‘oh, I like Sam yeah.’ Am I like ‘hey mate, how come you’ve never talked to me about this?’ – I said all that.. I did it as a friggin laugh and said it would be cool and I knew he wanted Will Smith and Id do it cos he’s my mate and the next thing you know it’s online… so you know.. er.. and he’s saying ‘I want Sam I want Sam’ I started laughing. Yeah, I leaked that. I might get into it a bit more and start writing online saying I want this job and this job and this job. – We haven’t discussed it seriously. I wrote him an email and he wrote back saying ‘I don’t think you have these qualities, blah, blah..’ and I wrote back saying ‘it’s your job as a director to bring it out of me.’ But he’s my mate and I think working with mates is the best thing and if Louie’s next job well, I’d do in a heart beat.

What are you doing after this?

After this? I think I’ve got a… In January I’ve got a thing called The Tourist with Charlize Theron. If it all comes together correctly. It’s a thiller. Bit like North By Northwest.

She’s an Interpol Agent on that, right?

I think er.. she tries to set me up. A tourist who gets set up. It has a lot of twists and turns, It’s pretty cool. The director seems a nice guy.

Can you say whether you auditioned for James Bond before Daniel Craig?

I did, Ben, yeah.

You did?

yeah, at the same time. James Bond’s the type of thing where they look at a big list at the top hundred actors within of a certain kind of age.

Would you take it now if you were offered?

Hmm, I think, even at the time, mate, it’s a big commitment. Because they have a lot of say, the Broccolis, Everything is very detailed, You gotta come in and – well you’re coming into a franchise that is – well, the history behind it alone could daunt you so er look, I did my job and looking back I was too young and Daniel Craig is perfect for it, but that was a good opportunity for me. I think a couple of months after that I auditioned for Avatar, which required a different set of skills. You’re not going in nervous, makes you a bit more relaxed and – well, it was kinda humbling that they asked you to do it as well.

James Cameron said you’re a man’s man…

I am a man! A man’s man.. my mate’s laugh at it and go ‘man’s man? He’s the softest bloke we know!’ A man’s man. You know, it’s nice. I think what I hopefully bring to any movie – whether it’s a four million dollar Australian movie or a however much this budget is or a two hundred million plus with Avatar, I hopefully bring a weight and gravity, but being a man’s man… Whatever the term, hopefully I’m not as hard headed and bull headed as people think and see. There is a soft side to me. Most Australian men come across as hard chocolate on the outside and all gooey in the middle. In films though, I think that’s the key, you know. You have this persona of being a tough guy, yet you wanna show your sensitivity and agility and I like characters like that.

Do you have any role models?

I don’t really have any role models… I mean, there are actors I’d like to work with. Anyone from Harrison Ford to Russell Crowe. I’ve liked those boys going back to way back when.. to Robert Mitchum, People like that. I watch a lotta crap and I watch a lot of good movies, but that’s my interest and that’s my industry. There’s not been one specific role model, no.

Do you have any aspirations to do a comedy or a rom com?

Romantic Comedy? I like watching them, Ben.. I don’t know how good I’d actually be in one of ‘em. I don’t get offered comedies because everybody seems to think I’m a man’s man (laughter erupts). I cant see myself as a floppy haired Englishman, I admit, I do watch them. Sweet Home Alabama.. That’s another thing if I’m a man’s man, who watched a lot of rom coms.. ha ha.. We’ll keep that on the low yeah?

Yeah, I’ll switch the tape off.

yeah, turn that off (laughing)

Yep, I don’t think it recorded.

(laughing) – Delete. Delete. Haha.

What kind of accent did you give Perseus?

Greek. – (chuckling) Er.. I think this gonna be the big thing. That and my Jennifer Aniston hair cut. The two biggest things on the internet, especially. Why does he look like that and how is he gonna sound? You’ve listened to Mads.. I can barely understand a word that guy says. You’ve met Liam Cunningham, have you? He’s Irish. I cant understand a word he says but to a French director we all sound perfect! Um, so yeah.. I call this the United Nations of movies. We’re all trying to tone down our own accents. I believe in any kind of movie and especially like this – there isn’t a Greek accent. We’re not all doing English. We try and make them as neutral as possible. Hopefully the intention behind what we say is so true, so passionate and powerful that accents shouldn’t really matter. That’s my belief anyway. Come March next year I could be wrong.

Talking with Gemma earlier. She said she beat you in a race.

She did.

And you weren’t too happy.

I’m not too happy? That’s bullshit. I let her win! No er.. She beat me fair and square. We had to run away from the scorpion and that chick and run. My Christmas hands held me back brother! (laughing) That’s the problem. I gotta lotta drag back here. I couldn’t get any traction. The girl took off and I gotta swallow it. I’ll be a man’s man and she won. Yeah, she beat me.

It sounded like a fun set.

I think it has to be. Buoyancy translates. I’m a big believer in that. When I do a scene and you get the mood correct.. yeah, we’re getting scared, yeah, we’re running away, we’re attacking things.. the mood of this movie is fun. You wanna go on a journey and laugh with these people. And you wanna laugh at the damn predicaments. I’m coming out of a damn scorpion for goodness sake and if that isn’t silly… my dumb idea.. little did I know I had to be covered in goo and I forgot about that aspect of it but for me that summed up the movie. Scorpion comes flying at him and Perseus turns around, the scorpion attacks him and you don’t know what happens but he flies through the air, lands and everybody is wondering where the hell is Perseus and out he comes, right out of it! Don’t ask me how he got in there! (laughing) Did the scorpion eat me or did I come out the other end.. haha.. That’s gonna be a point for the internet bloggers. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the movie and because of that we’re having a lot of fun making it and hope that translates.

How self critical are you? Do you like watching yourself?

It reminds me of a good looking brother. I don’t have a brother. When I see pictures of that (gestures to a glossy picture of himself as Perseus in a promo photograph from the movie). That”s not me. I don’t see me. The lighting makes me looks better. I gotta tan, I look quite buff, it’s all done quite well, I look at myself in the mirror, mate, after a big night out on the town, I don’t look anything like that, trust me. That takes about four hours of make-up! But erm.. I think you’re critical when you do it. That’s what my job is.. to give everything to Louie and give him what he wants.. If he’s happy and I’m not, that’s fine. I’ve done my job, but I’ll keep pushing and pushing until.. there’s something on celluloid worthwhile.

Will you be taking any souvenirs when you’ve finished?

Um…

Secretly.

Secretly? (laughing)

Anything you got your eye on?

Ah, mate – Can you get swords and stuff like that through customs in London?

You can get anything like that into London..

Yeah, ha.. there are some swords that are pretty cool.

How about the horse?

(laughing) ha, the horse.. I’ll take the mechanical horse. It’s funny.. you got Hugh Jackman in Australia, great horseman, Russell Crowe.. doing Gladiator.. horseman.. Heath Ledger in Knights Tale, awesome, me on a freaking mechanical horse which has been tied to a car! I’m letting down my nation you know! It’s horrible. (laughing)

You could nail it to the bonnet of your mate’s car.

(laughing) yeah, I could.. ah Ben, have you seen the thing? Have you seen it?

Not yet.

Ah, you go and have a look. It’s funny. It moves. It’s just static. It goes ah man, we broke it’s neck. (laughter erupts from all) which is why.. why we had to cut and take a break. It’s like Louie works you that hard, he even broke a mechanical horse. Yeah, it moves, it tilts. Kinda embarrassing and my girls been visiting and got excited when she was told I was on a horse and she thought ‘well, he’s not the best rider’ and there was me on the back of this mechanical horse being towed by a car, passing and I say; ‘hey honey, howya doing?’ Real masculine looking I’m sure.

You mentioned the impressive cast, did you get to work with Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson at all?

Er yeah, well, the majority is done with the journeymen, Mads from Pusher and Liam from Wind that Shakes the Barley. That’s a pretty cool clique. Thing with Ralph, he basically comes in to make my life hell. He’s also gonna be twelve foot tall, so we’ve been doing it apart. We didn’t really act together which is a shame, but I did get to watch him act and I love where he’s going with the character. Perseus isn’t a golden boy and Zeus isn’t the golden god of gods. He’s made a lot of mistakes and Hades isn’t necessarily the bad guy, he’s the hard done by brother and basically wants to be on the same level as the other gods. I can see where he’s going with it and I think its great. Then you’ve got Liam and it’s the same kinda thing. 12 foot tall and I’m half the size. He shot his stuff and I’m doing it with a 3 foot puppet or something, I mean, you’re acting with the guy but not to the extent that your heart wants to. When you acting with guys of that caliber, you’re learning and that’s a gift. Louie said to me this is operatic, but it’s still family drama a bit like Dallas in some aspects. No bad guys no good guys, people trying to struggle and connect with other members of their family and achieve something in their lives worthwhile in the most ridiculous of circumstances.

WB say time is up with Sam..

Mate, it was nice meeting you – cheers.

You too, thanks a lot.

If you go over there, you might see that dumb horse. Have a good rest of your time, yeah?