Talking with Terminator Sam Worthington

Wed, May 13th, 2009 at 3:28pm PDT | Updated: May 13th, 2009 at 3:41pm

TV/Film
Erik Amaya, Staff Writer
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""Terminator Salvation" opens May 21

In “Terminator Salvation,” which opens May 21, Sam Worthington plays Marcus Wright, a death row inmate from 2003 who wakes up as a cyborg in the post-Judgment Day era of 2018. For the actor, the character gave him a chance to bring something new to science fiction films. “I wanted to make a robot that actually felt pain because I’ve never seen that,” Worthington told CBR News. “Actually, there’s a bit of that in ‘Blade Runner,’ but I’ve never actually seen a movie where a cyborg or a robot kind of hurts, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I just want to ramp that up a bit” and “try to bring some sense of depth and gravity and truth between all those explosions and tumbles.”

While the Australian Worthington brings an emotional core to his cyborg character, he had plenty of physical strains to endure. The actor, who’s also been cast in James Cameron’s “Avatar,” feels this is an important part of acting in high profile action films. “You do as much as you can and Christian [Bale]’s the same -- before the insurance people step in,” Worthington explained. “Audiences are gonna see [the film] and they’re going to want to see the actor [doing his own stunts.] Getting beat up and blown up. That’s part of the character. I don’t mind running. I don’t mind taking a few knocks; I’m a boy.”

The actor does hope in the midst of the explosions, he has kept to his mission statement. “Hopefully, it’s not just Sam action thing. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted to bring the same kind of weight and emotionality that I do in Australian films and putting that in a bigger blockbuster. So, you’re not just grunting and groaning and running around.”

Asked if he had any particular fitness training, the Australian actor responded, “I don’t go to the gym and shit like that.”

Scene from "Terminator Salvation"

In regards to the various weapons used in the film, Worthington said, “I am the weapon.”

Indeed, to Worthington, the situation “Terminator Salvation” puts him in was training enough. “When you’re in a minefield and they’re blowing up shit around you, it’s not that hard to run faster,” he joked.

Being a Terminator, the actor also faced the traditional make-up appliances to reveal his metallic endoskeleton. “They put all the prosthetics on me and you walk around like Cirque du Soleil because you’re all blue,” the actor recalled. Some of Worthington’s skeleton reveals were accomplished digitally; therefore he wore blue patches instead of the metallic pieces Arnold Schwarzenegger wore in the original trilogy. Worthington had few complaints about the process. “That’s not hard, you just sit there. The hard part [is applying the make up]. They do it for six hours.”

Another challenge Worthington faced was the script. “There was one scene where I teach [Kyle Reese] about the rope. It was crap and I said I wasn’t going to do it. I didn’t believe it,” the actor recalled. Worthington is not afraid to call attention to a scene he feels doesn’t work. “I feel the script is a blue print. You’re there to tell a story, but scenes have to develop. The script is like an infant and then when you’re making it, it becomes a teenager and it’s yelling and everyone’s fighting and it’s rebelled.

“Like that scene in particular, it wasn’t working. [Marcus and Kyle] bonded over some of the lamest gags I’d ever read.”

Scene from "Terminator Salvation"

Worthington and Anton Yeltchin, who plays Kyle Reese, reworked the scene. “They can say that it’s crap and we’ll do the original [scene], but my job is to come and help [director] McG facilitate the movie and get his vision in the film however I do it,” Worthington said of his improvisation. “My job is to make the best story I can tell [even] if that means taking the script and rejigging it. Luckily we had a director who wanted input from everybody.”

Worthington says he also used this approach with the notoriously controlling James Cameron on “Avatar.” “That’s why he hired me,” the actor said. “I’m not a puppet. That’s the process of any film. You’re investigating the script and trying to make it real.”

Cameron showed little interest in the making of “Terminator Salvation.” “He passed on the franchise awhile back,” Worthington reported. Cameron created the Terminator franchise and directed the first two films. “I think he’s curious to see if we fucked it up or not. That was his message to me: don’t fuck stuff up, do your best, get in and tell the story you want to tell.”

The next project for Sam Worthington is a remake of “Clash of the Titans.” In that, Worthington plays Perseus. “I had a take on Perseus that I told to Louis [Leterrier]. He went with it. The studio kind of liked my take and we’ll see if it works,” Worthington said. Asked if he had watched the original 1981 film starring Harry Hamlin, he joked “I want it to be exactly the same!” Then he added, “That guy’s going to come after me.”

Scene from "Terminator Salvation"

Worthington continued, “At the moment, we took on the Medusa and we took on the witches. We go back and take on a heap of scorpions and then we’ll take on the Kraken. So at the moment, we’re running around in a dress fucking killing everything.”

Asked what he likes most about the Terminator franchise, Worthington said, “I have a nine-year-old nephew; he’s kind of the barometer for me. If he gets a message of ‘don’t get bullied’ -- and that’s by machines or whoever -- stand up and take a stand, that’s a good message to send to a nine year-old. That’s what I like.”

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TAGS:  terminator, terminator salvation, sam worthington, mcg, christian bale

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