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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Thu, May 14, 2009 1:21pm

He’s the star of Terminator Salvation. It’s pretty easy to tell from the trailers that the story is more about Marcus Wright than John Connor. In fact, I’d bet good money that Worthington has significantly more screentime than Bale. We’ll find out tomorrow I guess!

Ryan H
Ryan H
Thu, May 14, 2009 2:13pm

The word is that the John Connor part in Terminator was originally fairly minor. It got expanded when Bale joined the cast. So this is more of a case of the original staring role sharing credit with the big name actor that get attached at the last minute.

Thu, May 14, 2009 4:00pm

I agree with the 2 previous posts, but also it might be a way to get promotion started on Clash of Titans and Avatar.. you can argue that it’s not the same studios, but if he got this role in T4 it’s because James Cameron recommended him to McG.

recently when you look for news on Sam Worthington they almost always talk about Avatar and Clash of Titans.. it’s free publicity…

Thu, May 14, 2009 7:49pm

THANK YOU! I saw the preview of terminator when i saw Star Trek last night and hadn’t gotten around to looking up who it was!
I KNEW it was an Australian, he was so familiar.

Yeah, he is pretty well know here. I was surprised to see him get such a high billing. The phrase “next big thing” has been bandied about with Sam for a while, especially before bond and when the movie Somersault came out (which he won an AFI award for).

Thu, May 14, 2009 9:16pm

I’ve got Sean Penn’s voice in my head, saying “He’s one of our finest actors”

Fri, May 15, 2009 12:55am

He is the co lead with Bale and his character is the heart of the movie, so of course he should feature in the promotion of the film. There is a lot of buzz about him and the word is that he steals the movie, and that Bale over acts the part of John Connor.

Fri, May 15, 2009 10:44am

There is a lot of buzz about him and the word is that he steals the movie

It seems Warner Bros. has done such a very good job in promoting someone most of us have never seen in anything, ever, that it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Hey, have you guys heard about new Glurg Cola! It’s seriously awesome. I’m hearing everyone talk about how delicious it is! You gotta try it! I wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true, so you can trust me on this. Honestly! Why would I be pushing something you’d never heard of if it weren’t delicious?

Victor Plenty
Victor Plenty
Fri, May 15, 2009 12:11pm

MaryAnn, now you’ve got me wondering whether Warner Brothers staged that whole incident where Bale lost his cool on the set. Perhaps they wanted some way to make him less likable to the public, so they won’t take such a negative PR hit themselves when they reduce his salary on the next Batman movie.

I’m sure you’re right about the Glurg Cola, too. It’s refreshingly light for a cola! And it’s got genuine high fructose corn syrup (made from real corn!), so you know it has to be good.

Katie Dvorak
Katie Dvorak
Fri, May 15, 2009 4:28pm

I had the exact same question before he had top billing with Bale which was a surprise to me as well. I’m oddly excited for this movie (I really don’t no why) so I hope he deserves that billing.

Sat, May 16, 2009 3:03am

Yeah he’s very well known here in Australia. He was in Rogue, if anyone saw that film (it didn’t do anywhere near as well as Wolf Creek), and has been in a lot of TV shows, specifically Love My Way, which is something that I think you’d love MaryAnn.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Terminator launches him into the stratosphere. Can anyone think of any other instances where Hollywood jumped the gun with the Next Big Thing?

Tue, May 19, 2009 12:06am

Well he did go to the same acting school as cate blanchet, guy pearce, simon baker, hugo weaving, rose burne, naomi watts, mel gibson and russell crowe …. somehow i doubt hollywood would take a punt on 3 huge movies with a guy who hasnt made a hollywood film if he didnt have the goods ….

ive seen him in a few australian films, he’s good, and rumors say he produces the goods in avatar and terminator, so cheers to the first celebrity actor to become well known before a film hits the cinema …