Sitting in London’s plush Dorchester Hotel in his good luck metal t-shirt, Sam Worthington is a far more earthly version of his Clash Of The Titans character Perseus.
It was just a few years ago that the actor dubbed “Australia’s next big thing” sold off all his possessions to his friends at bargain basement prices and started living out of his car. A fresh start he equates to hitting control-alt-delete on a computer.
He may be fronting multi-million dollar blockbusters, but Worthington says he still lives out of just two suitcases.
I asked if his control-alt-delete phase gave him the hunger needed to win the role, in which he co-stars with screen veterans Liam Neelson and Ralph Finnes, who have a good 100-odd roles between them.
“It never really affected going for work, that wasn’t the thing. I just looked in the mirror and didn’t like me,” he said.
“Work’s just… this is my job. It’s a fantastic job but there was something wrong with me, so it gave me me back again.
“I love myself now – in a nice way. In a sense of, I’m still struggling. I’m a 33-year-old man who struggles every day, but I’m having a bit more fun with myself now,” he added.
Worthington sits perched in his chair, one leg up, like a restless big kid during our interview.
This is the exact exuberance Clash Of The Titans director Louis Leterrier was looking for in his Perseus.
“All of the screenplay was written for another kind of a man – younger, innocent, doe-eyed – and [then] Sam comes in and I see the Perseus I never thought I’d see,” Leterrier said.
“He has a fire in him, a drive, redirected anger. I don’t know why Sam has got that angst in him, ’cause you know it’s Sam – his parents are happy, he’s got great family, he’s a super successful movie star. Still he has that fire.
“He’s so humble that he’ll never settle and be, ‘OK, I’ve arrived in my life’.”
Worthington says he may play tough guy roles, but he is a pussy cat at heart.
That, he says, is a common feature among Australia’s male actors – tough out the outside, gooey on the inside.
Worthington said he wanted to add a sense of fragility and questioning to his warrior role.
“He’s not just some brawn,” Worthington said of Perseus.
“Hopefully I’m adding a bit more than just that. Hopefully I’m adding vulnerability and bit of pathos and humour.”
Director Leterrier, meanwhile, revelled in the chance to be a big kid again – to play with monsters and destroy the city of Argos as he used to do to his Lego constructions as a boy.
Worthington admits shooting big, bold, brash blockbusters is a lot fun.
“I like these type of movies … I like doing movies I would go and see,” he said.
“Then when I spend six months flying on a winged horse or doing something as crazy as being on the back of a banshee, you’re committed to it because you know the audience is going to command that themselves – just like I would demand it.”
Clash Of The Titans is released in Australia on April 1.