Neeson, Worthington Explore Familial Themes in ‘Titans’

SAM WORTHINGTON as Perseus in "WRATH OF THE TITANS." ©Warner Bros. Entertainment. (Click on photo for hi-res version).


Front Row Features

NEW YORK—Liam Neeson and Sam Worthington reprise their roles as mythological legends Zeus and Perseus, respectively, in “Wrath of the Titans,” the follow up to 2010’s action-adventure “Clash of the Titans.”

Set a decade after Perseus’ heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, the widowed demigod has opted for a quiet life with his 10-year-old son Helius in ancient Greece, eschewing his place in the world as Zeus’ son. That is, until uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes, reprising the role of the Underworld king) team ups with Zeus’ war-minded son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) to help the ancient titan leader Kronos capture Zeus and steal his powers. Perseus must come to his father’s rescue or see the fiery Kronos unleash hell on earth. With father pitted against son and brother against brother, it’s easy to see how the ancient gods were the ultimate in family dysfunction.

The Irish Neeson and Aussie Worthington enjoyed the opportunity to reprise their familial roles and work with veteran sci-fi action director Jonathan Liebesman (“Battle: Los Angeles”) on this family drama set against the backdrop of gods and monsters.

Front Row Features: These stories are thousands of years old. Why do you think we’re still interested in them and what lessons do they offer?

Liam Neeson: They tap into every culture in the world. They’re essentially the same story, which is an innocent has to go through a trial and ordeal to save society and comes out the other end having learned something that advances society onwards.

Sam Worthington: They deal with these big themes like destiny, responsibility and family values that are still relevant to us today. That’s why you’ve kind of got these mythological tales that have survived because we find relevance in them in our own society, in our own way.

Front Row Features: Since you both were in “Clash of the Titans,” what did you want to bring different to this one?

Neeson: I just wanted more interaction with my (character’s) son and my brothers, essentially, which I think the script certainly provided. We talk about some of those dynamics of how Hades and Zeus became separated and the jealousies that drove them apart and whatnot. That’s all touched on without it going off on a tangent. I also liked the father-son relationships, which we can all relate to.

Worthington: I’ve been pretty vocal about how I felt about the first one and what I did in the first one. I haven’t done that in a way of putting the first one down at all, but I felt it was my responsibility to try in this one to create a character rather than just be a conduit for the action.

Front Row Features: You have a different director this time around. What do you think Jonathan Liebesman brought to the sequel?

 Neeson: He hit on something really important. He always brought it down to the story. We knew there was going to be 257 explosions at this particular instance. But he always brought it down to where we were, our characters, where our journey was.

Front Row Features: Both of you have done quite a few visual effects-heavy films. Is it easier now to work against green screen?

Worthington: It’s a more improved version of interacting in this one. Jonathan (LIebesman) is very good at combining the practical with the special effects. A lot of those explosions are real. So we were dealing with a lot more practical stuff to interact with. What I learned on “Avatar” then on “Clash,” you just keep improving it and refining it. The interaction between the CG stuff and us becomes a lot more organic.

Neeson: I’m from the old school. In the first “Star Wars,” we used colored tennis balls (as visual markers), and I kind of like my tennis balls. (He chuckles.) We had lots of little bits of colored tape in this as well. You have act sometimes to bits of tape.

Front Row Features: Liam, what was it like working with your old friend Ralph Fiennes again.

Neeson: Friend? Who said we were friends? (He laughs.) No, he’s one of my dearest, oldest friends. He’s terrific. When we did “Clash of the Titans,” we found it hard to act with each other, though. I would look at his forehead and he would look at my forehead because sometimes when we made eye contact, it got quite silly. We were more restrained this time, and we had a lot more deeper, darker issues to act so we didn’t laugh as much.

Front Row Features: This one seems to have more to do with the Greek mythology and the gods than the original.

Worthington: it’s not a history lesson. These movies have never been like that to me. We’ve just utilized this great field of characters, creatures, situations and journeys.  That is the most exciting thing. Purists are probably going to hate us, but I don’t care because I like the fact that we are mining this world to create our own mythology and creating our own canon of stories.

Front Row Features: Did you get hurt during the action scenes?

Worthington: I don’t like talking about that. I’ve got mates that play rugby, so they think I’m a wimpy actor. I got a couple little bruises but that’s the nature of this type of film.

Front Row Features: What’s your favorite scene in the movie?

Worthington: Mine is where I’m fighting the Minotaur and the labyrinth was just because it was something we talked about way back. The fact that we had a set that actually moved was fantastic. I just liked it because to me it was a brutal fight like the (Ultimate Fighting Championship). I just thought that’s something different.

Neeson: My favorite scenes were with Sam at the beginning when my character appears and asks for his help. I also liked my scenes with Ralph and with Toby (Kebbell, who plays Hades’ son Agenor).

Front Row Features: How did you approach your characters in this compared to other more human characters you’ve played?

Neeson: You have to treat them as un-godlike as possible. Otherwise, you’d be totally intimidated.

Worthington: Ares is my absent brother. You kind of have to do that a bit to ground it. Not get caught up in the fact that he’s the god of war.

Front Row Features: What was your knowledge of Greek mythology before you made these films?

Neeson: In my twenties, I started reading Greek mythology, and again, in preparation for “The Phantom Menace,” I kind of had to because (the “Star Wars” films) basically are Greek mythology stories.

Front Row Features: Did you borrow any traits from your past roles for this?

Neeson: They’re all special, to be honest. I use whatever I have as an actor for any part.

Front Row Features:  For Zeus, did you borrow any traits from your past roles?

Neeson: I had a great head of hair.  (He laughs.) That helped a lot actually in a strange sort of way. I thought it was important I guess not to show power because he is the god of gods and if you try and show that you immediately weaken yourself.