Sam Worthington is in publicity mode. Geoffrey Wright’s modern screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is due for release and, as the film’s star, Worthington is being trotted around various media outlets.
By all accounts it’s a humbling experience, repeatedly answering questions on a role you put to rest 12 months earlier, and I’m sure many actors, given half the chance, would rather cut and run.
By the time I get to speak with Australia’s hottest actor, he’s already done the breakfast radio rounds and over the phone his voice is tolerant, very blokey but weary.
For my part, I score an early point by referring to the film as that Scottish play. He laughs at the label. In traditional theatre circles Macbeth, with its coven of witches and dark intentions, is considered a jinx and to mention the play by name in a theatre guarantees tragedy.
I always said it’s a curse if you say it in a theatre, it’s a blessing if you say it in a film, Worthington says in a strong, no-bullshit Australian accent. That vocal style, while sure to be a sticking point with Shakespeare purists, puts him in good company with the likes of Russell Crowe and Bryan Brown. During our interview he pays homage to both actors -“ Brown as an early inspiration who gave me an opportunity when I was younger and Crowe whose career he admires.
The guy did 15 movies in Australia and then went to America, he says of Crowe. I think that’s it. You should let America come to you because they want to work with you, not because you go and knock on their door.
If you needed a clue as to how Worthington intends to play the fame game, there it is. And while, by all accounts, Hollywood has already come knocking (he was runner-up for the new James Bond film), Tinseltown will have to fit in with his grander work plan.
With the kind of looks and on-screen charisma Hollywood craves, Worthington makes it clear that’s it’s only ever about the work.
Actors are lazy, I don’t think they push themselves enough, he says. They think that once they do a couple of movies the whole world should bow down to them. I think it’s completely the opposite. I think we have power between -˜action’ and -˜cut’ and the rest of the time you have to keep working and plodding on.
But Worthington is a cut above the average worker in the entertainment industry. Everybody recognises it. On screen he is irresistible -“ ruggedly handsome yet vulnerable. I remind him of his burgeoning sex symbol status. The serious actor dissolves with an incredulous chuckle.
I look different on film than I do in real life, he says. The camera does strange things to some people -¦ it must be the way they light me. Mate, in real life I’m a bit of dag.
And then of course there is the shoot-out finale in Macbeth where he gets to prance around a mansion in little more than a leather kilt. It should be pointed out that Wright’s modern adaptation of Macbeth is set in the seedy underworld of warring drug barons.
Well, you know, it’s just boys with toys, mate, says Worthington. To be honest with you, I liked all the dressing up more. When are you going to do an Australian movie wearing a bullet-proof vest and a leather kilt?
Back to that kilt. I remind him we are a gay publication and would appreciate more detail. He laughs out loud at my persistence. Now he’s having fun.
Well, what do you think I wore underneath? he teases. Nothing -“ with my tackle hanging out. I mean you’re firing off a million blanks with your tackle hanging out, whenever are you gonna get to do that again?
Geoffrey Wright’s adaptation of Macbeth also stars Lachy Hulme, Victoria Hill, Gary Sweet and opens 21 September.