LOS ANGELES — Having reclaimed his sword, sandals and mythological monster-slaying moxie, Sam Worthington feels grateful for his second chance to bring a better action hero to film fans.
The Australian movie star, 35, reprises his role as the Greek demigod Perseus in “Wrath of the Titans,” the successor to the critically scorned 2010 blockbuster “Clash of the Titans.” Opening Friday, the monster- and myth-packed sequel gave Worthington an opportunity to improve on the “generic, bland, baldheaded action thing” he created for his initial “Clash.”
“I personally kind of don't like what I did in the first one. I think I dropped the ball. I let down the audience ... in the sense of I created a character that wasn't really a character,” Worthington said during an interview earlier this year at the Four Seasons Hotel.
“He was a conduit for the story. That was it. He could've been played by anybody. ... So in this one, I was so lucky to get a second chance, to go, ‘All right, let's scrap Perseus. Let's decide what kind of man he is. Let's try to think what he's been doing. Let's try to create a character that an 11-year-old boy or a 30-year-old woman can look at and go, “Yeah, I like that person and I want to go on this journey with them.” And (let's) not distance the audience by being generic.'”
“Wrath of the Titans” picks up Perseus' story 10 years after he killed the gruesome Kraken at the end of “Clash.” In the intervening decade, the hero has tried to live a quiet life as a fisherman and single father to his 10-year-old son Helius (John Bell). But a battle for supremacy is intensifying between the gods and their monstrous forefathers, the Titans. When Perseus' father Zeus (Liam Neeson), the ruler of the gods, is betrayed by his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and captured so the Titans can drain his power, Perseus must swap his fishing net for his warrior's sword.
“I think it's amazing. I think it's awesome. Love it. I think it's got big-(expletive) monsters and a lot of heart this time,” Worthington said of the sequel.
“Wrath of the Titans” features a variety of mythological nasties, from the double-bodied demon fighters called Makhai and the fire-breathing, multiheaded hybrid beast the Chimera to the towering one-eyed Cyclops clan and the gargantuan lava-oozing chief Titan Kronos. But Worthington said director Jonathan Liebesman (who replaced “Clash” helmer Louis Leterrier) put as much importance on building the father-son aspects of the story as on creating computer-generated special effects.
“It's great when ... you start seeing them (the effects). Like when I watched it, there were certain sections that weren't done. So when the boys are fighting and when Liam's fighting, he's throwing things like this and there's nothing coming out of his hands; he just looks like he's dancing. So when they showed me that after it's put in, it's like, ‘Wow, that's so much more incredible,'” Worthington said, imitating Neeson tossing out Zeus' trademark lightning bolts.
“But if you take away all the CG, you've got to just have a great story. The problem with some of these movies is you take away the CG, you've just got blah. What we did with ‘Wrath,' we definitely sat down and went, ‘Well, what's its essence?' And the essence is that it's a movie about fathers and sons and the responsibility that means. Plus, you throw in monsters and the Greek mythological background. That's cool; that just adds to the blockbuster aspect. But essentially if that father and son kind of section isn't right, you've got (expletive)-all. So that's what we set out to do.”
Despite his fit appearance, the “Avatar” and “Terminator: Salvation” action star said he was mindful of the 10-year gap between the stories when he reprised the part of Perseus.
“He's been a fisherman for 10 years, so it hurts to ride the horse now, he's not very good with the sword, and when I run I'm out of breath,” Worthington said.
“My girl watched it, and ... she goes, ‘You run really funny.' I said, ‘What do you mean?' She goes, ‘Well, you're out of breath; you're uncoordinated.' I said, ‘Hey, easy. Ease up,' and she went, ‘No, it's good. He hasn't been doing nothing for 10 years. It's a great choice.' Little does she know I was just (expletive) exhausted,” he added with a laugh.
“But he's a character you go, ‘Yeah, I like Perseus.' He's a memorable character now.”