Just a few years ago Sam Worthington was an up-and-coming actor whom most people wouldn’t have recognized if he bumped into them on the street. But a few blockbusters (Terminator: Salvation, Clash of the Titans) and a starring role in the biggest movie of all time (Avatar) later, and suddenly Worthington is a household name.
This week his latest feature film, Texas Killing Fields, hits theaters courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. Directed by Ami Canaan Mann and produced by Michael Mann (her father), Texas Killing Fields also stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, “Supernatural”), Chloë Grace Moretz (Let Me In, Kick-Ass), Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life, The Help), Jason Clarke (Public Enemies, FOX’s “Chicago Code”) and Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”).
Inspired by true events, Texas Killing Fields follows Detective Souder (Worthington), a homicide detective in a small Texan town, and his partner, transplanted New York City cop Detective Heigh (Morgan), as they track a sadistic serial killer dumping his victims’ mutilated bodies in a nearby marsh locals call “The Killing Fields.” When familiar local girl named Anne (Moretz) goes missing, the detectives find themselves racing against time to catch the killer and save the young girl’s life.
Recently Dread Central caught up with Worthington during a roundtable conference call wherein the English-born Australian actor discussed what brought him on board to star in this brand new thriller, what he looks for when considering projects and his (brief) thoughts on both Clash of the Titans 2 and the Avatar sequels.
Question: Can you talk about what attracted you to the Texas Killing Fields and how you became attached to the project?
Sam Worthington: It pretty much took one meeting between myself, Ami and Mike (Detective Land, the real-life officer that Worthington’s character is based on) for me to come on board. They brought a stack of papers to the meeting related to the real-life ongoing investigations into what happened along that highway, and it was startling to see all that up close, really.
There were pictures of people, pictures of a multitude of missing girls. That’s hard not to get under your skin, especially since I have a sister. I think that’s what drew me to this- maybe I have some glimmer of hope in the back of my mind that maybe this movie could possibly help in real-life. Maybe that’s naïve to think, but that’s what I’m hoping for.
Question: Did you guys go out to the real area while filming then?
Worthington: Oh yeah- we went out there to Galveston. We walked around the actual area where the bodies get dumped, and let me tell you- that is a seriously scary atmosphere to be around. We toured the dump sites, and we saw just how ‘easy’ it is to commit these kinds of crimes out there. It’s so remote and distant but easily accessible; I was incredibly disturbed when we went there.
Question: How was it working with Ami since this is her first feature film?
Worthington: Ami is definitely a lot like her father; they’re both very thorough and detail-oriented, and I think she did a brilliant job on this film. She came in and had everything under control from moment one and was so incredibly focused the entire time. It was great to work with her.
Question: How different was your character in the movie (Detective Souder) from who you are, and did you find that it was hard to step into a role like this?
Worthington: My character in reality is a 6’4″ bear of a man who’s really volatile and bombastic- things I am usually not. So my approach to this character was to channel the passion that drives him to solve these crimes and focus on those aspects of who he is. Let me tell you, though- that kind of work really stays with you, probably more so than playing a fictional character. It’s hard to get the real tragedy out of your head when you’re immersed in a character like his, and I think it did take a little bit of a toll on me.
Question: You’ve seemed to make a huge impression on the industry in such a short amount of time, especially with working on some of the biggest movies of the last several years. Is there a balance you look for when considering projects?
Worthington: I don’t really see my career as something where I feel like I have to choose between doing huge blockbusters or small character-driven stories like Texas Killing Fields. I don’t really look at labels when I’m considering a project; I consider it from a fan standpoint really- would I pay money to see this movie in a theater? For me to want to be a part of a movie, I have to want to see it, too, and this is a movie I’d go out to see, any day.
Question: We know that you weren’t exactly thrilled with Clash of the Titans when it came out a few years back. Do you feel a little more confident about how the sequel went? Anything you can say about it?
Worthington: All I can say is that I am excited for Part Two of Clash, and this time around we definitely tried to put a lot more humor in.
Question: Any news on the Avatar sequels yet?
Worthington: You know- I can’t really say much because Jim’s people will come and tackle me (laughs). But I know that it’s scheduled in for him to write it. The last time I talked to him, he was just writing the bible, which is a big kind of book about the whole world and the history of Pandora and the universe. That kind of fuels him up to get into writing 2 and 3, so that’s about all I know on that so far- apart from the story and stuff.
But Jim and I have talked about Avatar 2 and 3 together recently, and I guess what’s cool is that these movies aren’t going to necessarily be sequels or a trilogy; James is just looking at these movies as extensions of this universe and a kind of a full-on story arc. It should be incredible.
Look for Texas Killing Fields in select theaters starting October 14th, 2011.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Traverse the fields in the comments section below!