question of the day: Who the hell is Sam Worthington?

I keep seeing these ads all over New York — on the sides of buses, on bus shelters, in the subway — for Terminator Salvation that give equal headlining billing to Christian Bale and… Sam Worthington? Who? Every time I see one, I can’t help but think, Who the hell is Sam Worthington that he gets that kind of billing?

So I looked him up, finally. And he’s got some big projects about to hit: He’s starring in the long-anticipated James Cameron SF epic Avatar, and he’s currently shooting the Clash of the Titans remake (he’s playing Perseus). And he has what looks to be a choice role in Salvation, as a cyborg who, apparently, doesn’t realize he’s a machine.

But that’s all to come. His work that most of the world might have seen is limited to small roles in The Great Raid and Hart’s War — I like both films but don’t remember him in either of them. And supposedly he was almost the new James Bond and just barely lost out to Daniel Craig.
So maybe in a parallel universe he’s now world famous as 007. Maybe in that universe it makes sense for ads for Terminator Salvation to tout Sam Worthington on the same level with Christian Bale. Maybe in his native Australia, where Worthington is apparently quite well known as a TV and film actor, ads featuring his name prominently are a smart way to promote the film. But anywhere else?

I want to be clear that I’m not picking on Worthington. I hope he’s awesome. I’d be delighted if a year from now, I’m posting a QOTD that goes, “OMG, can you believe there was a time when we didn’t know who the hell Sam Worthington is?” I’m picking on Hollywood, and how it decides to push one actor over another, and the way it decides to do that. (I don’t mean “Worthington over Bale.” I mean “Worthington, presuming he is awesome, over all the other really awesome actors we’ve never heard of, either.”) Obviously, that kind of thing goes on all the time when one actor gets cast in a movie over others in the first place.

This seems like more than that, though. It seems like a particularly odd kind of wishful thinking to me. Am I alone in that? Or do those ads make you also wonder, Who the hell is Sam Worthington?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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