By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Sam Worthington doesn’t like heights. So it might seem foolhardy that he would sign up to star in a movie called “Man on a Ledge” where his character spends most of his time perched on a 17-inch wide ledge on the 21st story of a New York City high rise. Front Row Features recently asked the 35-year-old Aussie why he would do such a thing.
Front Row Features: What possessed you to go out for this role if you’re afraid of heights?
Worthington: I don’t really have vertigo or a fear of heights. I more have a fear of falling and landing. That’s the primary fear. I think at 200-odd feet in the air, everyone is going to get some sense of vertigo.
Front Row Features: I’ll bet the first time you were on the ledge was the scariest.
Worthington: You see it in the film. (Director Asger Leth) said, “Roll the cameras and we’ll see what happens.” That’s the first time I ever went out on the ledge, and I was happy that I didn’t burst into tears and curl up in a ball, like, “I don’t want to do this movie. It’s stupid.” After a while, you get comfortable up there. You just don’t get complacent.
Front Row Features: Were you worried about it being windy?
Worthington: No. It’s the pigeons that you have to worry about. You’re in their home. With a head like mine, they think it’s a big egg.
Front Row Features: Wasn’t some of the movie filmed on a set?
Worthington: That was the original idea. But when I got out there and my confidence started to build and also the camera guys confidence grew and so the more ambitious shots and stuff we didn’t think that we could get, moments and scenes and stunts that we never in our wildest dreams thought we would get on the actual ledge, we could do. We didn’t really spend much time in the studio at all.
Front Row Features: You and Jamie Bell play brothers. Did you know him before making the film?
Worthington: I’ve known Jamie for a while. I knew his girlfriend and I’ve watched his career, but when Jamie comes on set he was a lot tougher than I remembered.
Front Row Features: And playing brothers, what was that like?
Worthington: It was good. Him and me talked about that relationship. I wanted it to be not just, “I’m saving you, brother.” I hope you like the fact that they kind of have a go at each other just like brothers would do. I like how their side of the story is quite low-tech. It’s not “Mission Impossible” in its gadgetry. Like when they’re rolling across on the skateboard, it’s ridiculous. That’s what keeps it fun.
Front Row Features: Would you describe this is a popcorn movie?
Worthington: It’s unashamedly a popcorn movie. That’s why I wanted to do it. It’s like “The Negotiator.” We talked about that and we talked about “Phone Booth” with Colin (Farrell), and I just said, “Let’s just steal from them and make a better version and see what we can do.”
Front Row Features: What was it like the first time you went out on the ledge?
Worthington: I was breathing a bit hard and didn’t want to let go, but after a while it does kind of kick in and you can run up there and do a lot of things. I had a safety tag but I couldn’t feel it, so every now and then I’d slip or stumble and it kicks in like a seatbelt. When you slip off and you’re hanging like a marionette, that’s the worst bit. That happened once or twice.
Front Row Features: How does this compare to something like “Wrath of the Titans,” which is a big action movie or your upcoming “Thunder Run,” in terms of safety?
Worthington: Every movie is safe. The insurance levels are too high (for it not to be). I like these types of movies. They’re fun for me to do.
Front Row Features: Your character has other action aside from standing on the ledge.
Worthington: Yeah, the producers wanted me to do all of that and I love doing it, like, driving the car, I did all of that. I can drive a car fast. I have enough speeding tickets to prove that, and then to be told that you can do it and it’s legal, that was good. It adds authenticity if an actor is doing it.
Front Row Features: There’s a bit of an attraction between your character and Elizabeth Banks’ negotiator character. Was there ever going to be a romance between them?
Worthington: There’s a whole draft where they fall in love and start kissing, and I was like ‘nah.’ I said, “That’s not plausible.” So we changed it. What I found is that even in drastic and demanding situations, you’re still going to have a bit of humor with someone. You’re still going to flirt with a pretty girl, and that’s a part of his plan as well, to kind of lure her in and make her feel comfortable. So, when she finds out what he’s actually doing, she’s kind of on his side. Elizabeth likes that balance. That’s what she’s done well in her other movies. I saw her in “The Next Three Days.” That’s what sold me. She’s sensational in that.
Front Row Features: Did you ever look down from the ledge?
Worthington: Occasionally, I could spot people yelling and taking photos. Some people were yelling, “Jump, jump.” I think there were a lot of disgruntled fans from my last movies. (He laughs.) I probably let them down and they were like, “That’s Sam Worthington. Jump. I’ve had enough of you.”
Front Row Features: What can you tell us about “Wrath of the Titans?” Is it going to be like “Clash of the Titans?”
Worthington: It’s awesome. I watched it the other day and I think it’s terrific. I wasn’t personally happy with what I did in the first one. I’m very vocal about that. I think I let down the audience. I think I didn’t try. I don’t my performance because it’s just a generic, bland, shaved head conduit for action. Whereas in the sequel (due out March 30), we literally sat down with the director (Jonathan Liebesman) and mapped out what I wanted to say with the heroic journey of Perseus and who he was as a man. So you’ve got a character people will have empathy with and want to go on that journey.
Front Row Features: Does that mean you’ll have more to say with James Cameron when you do the next “Avatar?”
Worthington: I can try, mate. I’ve got a Buckley’s chance at that. I see him next week. I’ll tell him, “Yeah, I have some great ideas for the sequel.”
Front Row Features: What’s next for you?
Worthington: I’m doing “Thunder Run” in May.
Front Row Features: Do you have to get into shape for that?
Worthington: It depends. I don’t really like going to the gym. So, I try now to put that into my characters. Perseus hasn’t done much for 10 years (in “Wrath of the Titans”). He hasn’t flown on the horse. So it hurts his bum a bit. I complain all the time that I have to run. My girlfriend is the best. She watched the movie, and said, “You run really funny.” I said, “What do you mean?” And she said, “You look out of breath. You look out of shape It’s good. He hasn’t done anything for 10 years. It’s a good choice.” In reality, I was just exhausted.