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|Also Known As:||Samuel Shane Worthington||Died:|
|Born:||August 2, 1976||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Australia||Profession:||Cast ... actor director|
An acclaimed performer in his native Australia, Sam Worthington rose to prominence in the difficult American market on the strength of his emotionally conflicted turn as a cyborg in "Terminator Salvation" (2009). The path to the Hollywood blockbuster was a long one, marked with arthouse successes like "Bootmen" (2000) and "Somersault" (2004), which caught the attention of producers in the States. His first few attempts to break into the U.S. market in films like "Hart's War" (2002) were met with indifference, but after a steady string of well-received lead and supporting turns in Australia, he returned to America with sizable roles in no less than three major features, including James Cameron's epic return to filmmaking, "Avatar" (2009) and a remake of "Clash of the Titans" (2010). Worthington's ability to deliver notable performances in both indie and popcorn movies made him one of the most valuable players on the international scene.
Born Aug. 2, 1976, Samuel Worthington was raised by his parents - his father was a power plant employee, while his mother cared for him and his sister - in Warnbro, a suburb of Rockingham near Perth. School was never a priority for him - he dropped out at 17, though he did show his first inkling of interest in the arts while in high school. He kicked around his native country before settling in Sydney; there, he worked in odd jobs, and figured on a career in construction before finding his way to the prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA). Sources varied as to how he joined its ranks; some said he followed a girlfriend to an audition, while others said he went there to support a friend and wound up earning a scholarship. Either way, he gained valuable training from the Institute, graduating in 1998.
His first professional role came shortly thereafter in a production of the play "Judas Kiss" for Company B at the Belvoir St. Theatre. Television on both sides of the Pacific soon followed, with guest shots on the American series, "JAG" (NBC, 1995-96; CBS, 1996- 2005), and the Australian drama, "Water Rats" (Nine Network Australia, 1996-2001). His big break came in 2000 with a supporting role in the Australian musical drama, "Bootmen," about a pair of brothers (Worthington and Adam Garcia) who leave their work in steel mills to perform in a tap dance competition. The role, which required Worthington to study tap for a half year, eared him an Australian Film Institute nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role.
The film's international exposure helped boost Worthington's profile, and Hollywood wasted no time calling on him. His American feature debut came in "Hart's War" (2002), a minor World War II drama starring Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell. Its fizzle at the box office sent him back to Australia for more substantive roles in the period crime drama "Dirty Deeds" (2002) with John Goodman, Sam Neill and Toni Collette, and the comedy "Gettin' Square" (2003), which saw him top-billed opposite David Wenham. In 2004, Worthington received considerable acclaim for his turn as a sexually confused young man who becomes entangled with a teenage girl (Abbie Cornish) in "Somersault." The film set a record for Australian Film Institute with 13 trophies in all, including one for Worthington as Best Actor. And if he was not busy enough, Worthington also found time to direct, write, and compose the music for a short film, "Enzo" (2004).
In the midst of steady film work in Australia, Worthington also found time to play a recurring role on the critically-lauded drama, "Love My Way" (Fox8/W/Showtime, 2004-07), about the emotional ups and downs of an extended family. In 2005, he returned to American movies with a supporting role in "The Great Raid," another World War II drama; this time about the liberation of American POWs from the Cabanatuan Prison Camp in the Philippines. It too was an underperformer at the box office, but Worthington remained on the radar of Hollywood producers - so much so, in fact, that for a time, he was among the host of stars under consideration to replace Pierce Bronson as James Bond in the venerable film franchise. Though Daniel Craig eventually became the 007 successor, Worthington remained exceptionally active in his homeland with a lead in the medical drama "The Surgeon" (Network Ten, 2005) and the title role in a modern-dress version of "Macbeth" (2006). The following year, he supported fellow Aussie star Radha Mitchell in "Rogue" (2007), a suspenseful, "Jaws"-style thriller about a boat tour's gruesome encounter with a king-sized crocodile. Worthington played Mitchell's rakish boyfriend, whose rescue attempts lead to a gruesome end.
That same year, Worthington began work on what would be one of the biggest productions of his career. Legendary director James Cameron tapped him to play the lead in his first movie in over a decade, the science fiction epic "Avatar" (2009), an action drama that blended groundbreaking CGI techniques with 3D technology in its storyline about humans in conflict with the inhabitants of a newly colonized world. Worthington's character, a paraplegic ex-Marine, undergoes an experiment to become an "avatar," an alternate version of himself designed to exist more cohesively in the new environment. The massive project required the actor to split his time between location shoots in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
After completing his turn in "Avatar," Cameron recommended Worthington for another buzz-worthy science fiction project - "Terminator Salvation" (2009), the fourth in the long-running and successful futuristic action franchise. "Salvation," which was directed by "Charlie's Angels" (2000) helmer, McG, cast Worthington as another modified human - this time, a death row inmate who is altered by the ruthless corporation Skynet into the hulking T-800 cyborg in order to hunt down the now adult resistance leader, John Connor (Christian Bale). Despite mixed reviews, the film pulled down remarkable numbers at the box office, earning itself the 20th spot on the list of all-time single day box office records for its opening weekend. Worthington himself was singled out for much of the critical praise, which noted the difficulty of replacing Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T-800, and how well he rose to the challenge.
Worthington's sky-rocketing profile continued to reach new heights as 2009 progressed, with starring roles opposite Keira Knightley in the infidelity drama "Last Night" (2009) and "The Debt" (2009), about Israeli agents hunting Nazis. Fans of Worthington's fantasy efforts were cheered by his casting as Perseus, hero of Greek mythology, in a big-budget remake of the Ray Harryhausen spectacular, "Clash of the Titans" (2010). The year was capped with the Australians in Film Breakthrough Award, which he shared with fellow Aussies Anna Torv from "Fringe" (Fox, 2008- ) and "Lars and the Real Girl" (2007) director, Craig Gillespie.
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