Sam Worthington, Avatar
Credit: Mark Fellman

I’ve been using the phrase “my mom” a lot lately in blog posts because we spent two weeks together over the holidays during which we saw four films. But allow me one more. After we saw Avatar, my mom immediately wanted to know Sam Worthington’s name and suddenly paid attention to the Clash of the Titans poster hanging in the theater lobby. Is it possible that Avatar‘s billion-dollar appeal will help make the 33-year-old Aussie a sex symbol for all ages?

Reached this afternoon, while she was getting her hair colored, my 62-year-old mother said yes. True, she did first refer to him as “Sam Whatshisname”, but she was adamant that he has “the ability to show different emotions that would appeal to different age groups.” Pressed further, she said he reminds her of one of her other documented favorites, Owen Wilson. I laughed. But then she explained: “He has an innocence about him. Sometimes he just looks like a little lost kid, and sometimes [inappropriate chuckle] he doesn’t.”

Has anyone else’s mother expressed an affection for Worthington, or am I the only lucky one? Anyone swooning over him should watch his December interview with Jay Leno, embedded after the jump. (I know, I can’t believe I just typed that either.)

My mother’s analysis — “rough exterior with a softer inside and a very engaging, very warm smile that makes you feel like he’s smiling just at you” — seems accurate. He’s a former bricklayer who got into acting when he accompanied a girlfriend to a drama school audition for moral support and got accepted. (She didn’t, and dumped him a week later.) He talks about turning 30, selling all of his possessions to metaphorically reboot his life, and with that $2,000, buying the car that he was living in when he petulantly went auditioned for a film that no one would describe or tell him who was directing. (A week later, he got a call from James Cameron asking him to come to L.A. for six months of auditions.) He shares a great story about filming with Cameron: If your phone goes off, he’ll nail-gun it to the wall (“He does it above the exit, so you always remember when you go out”). He also confesses that he needs to wear glasses or contacts but doesn’t, so he’s crashed six cars, including one that rolled off an embankment and one that went through a shop window — then settles in, shoeless, for Leno’s Green Car Challenge.

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Photo credit: Mark Fellman

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