*Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson reprise their roles as Perseus and Zeus, respectively in “Wrath of the Titans,” the follow up to “Clash of the Titans.”
A decade after he defeats the Kraken, an enormous and feared monster, Perseus attempts to live a normal life. As a village fisherman, he lives with his 10-year-old son, Helius. But all is not right with the world and Perseus’ father, Zeus, enlists his help to save mankind. Worthington, best known for Zoe Saldana’s love interest in “Avatar,” and Liam Neeson (“Taken,” Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace,” “The Dark Knight);” and plays Aslan, another godly figure in the “Narnia” series, spent a short stint in New York last week to talk about their latest project.
The Film Strip asked them to explain why these stories are still so appealing.
“Although these stories are thousands of years old, they tap into every culture in the world,” Neeson replied. “They’re essentially the same story, which is an innocent has to go through a trial and ordeal to save his society and comes out the other end having learned something that advances his society onwards. They explain our place in the world, essentially, I think.” Chuckling, Worthington continued by saying, “I’m going to write that down.” Explaining his thoughts on their longevity,” Worthington went on to say, “I just feel that these are important themes, like destiny, responsibility and family values; all things that are still relevant to us today. Whether it’s these mythological tales or Shakespeare or the different kinds of big folklore tales, they have survived because we find relevance in them in our own society, in our own era [right] now.”
Sam, at the Clash of the Titans junket you mentioned that you’d learned the advantage of having something practical to work with when dealing with a big effects scene. And given that this film has even more complex effects, what was your approach this time interacting with CG (computer graphics)?
Worthington: It’s a more improved version of interacting in a sense with this one. Jonathan’s (Director Jonathan Liebesman) is very good at combining the practical with the special effect. And you know, he’d learned a lot of techniques. A lot of those explosions are real. So, you’re dealing with an abundant amount of practical stuff to interact with. Even though the special effects guys were on the set more, we realized we were not going to be dictated by the special effects. You have to work in tandem. Because the special effects can come in five, six months later down the track. We’d like to balance and play with what we have now and then to get them to kind of play catch up a bit rather than us playing catch up in the reverse. I think that actually helps.
Neeson: It worked. It really worked.
Liam, how was it working with your friend Ralph Fiennes again?
Neeson: Friend? Who said we were friends? No, he is. He’s one of my dearest, oldest friends. He’s terrific. When we did the first one, Clash of the Titans, we found it hard to act with each other. So, I would look at his forehead and he would look at my forehead because sometimes we made eye contact and it got quite silly. But we were more restrained this time, and we had a lot more deeper, darker issues to act [on], so we didn’t laugh as much.
Can you talk about what you got out of this one as opposed to Clash?
Neeson: I just wanted more interaction with my son and my brothers, essentially, which I think the script certainly provided. You talk to some of those dynamics of how Hades and Zeus became separated and the jealousies that drove them apart and what not. You know, that’s all touched on without it going off in a huge, other tangent. And there is the father/son relationship, which we can all relate to, I think. .
Worthington: Yeah. I think it’s the same thing. I’ve been pretty vocal about how I felt personally about the first one and what I did in the first one. And I haven’t done that in a way of putting the first one down at all. It’s just that, I think, it’s my responsibility in this one to try and create a character rather than just a conduit for the action. I think by coming up with a different dynamic or the themes and responsibility for this basically dysfunctional family that just happens to be gods in a world of monsters, you just keep going back to that. Liam said it earlier, how every action scene should relate to family. If we lose sight of the family dynamics because of all the action and become misdirected, it will all come back to haunt us.
Clive Owen Has Supernatural Family Issues of His Own
British actor Clive Owen is no stranger to the big screen. The first film I saw him in was “The Rich Man’s Wife” with Halle Berry back in 1996. Madly in love with Berry, he plotted to have her husband killed. But Owen redeems himself and his evil ways in the 2003 “Beyond Borders,” starring opposite Angelina Jolie. He works at an Ethiopian refugee camp as a doctor, when not championing humanistic causes on the part of the children.
In the critically acclaimed “Children of Men,” Owen transports a pregnant Black woman, who is civilization’s only hope to a safe haven, in this 2007 science fiction film. Antoine Fuqua directed Owen in “King Arthur,” and Spike Lee was at the helm of his exceptional and, clever crime drama, “Inside Man.” Soon to be seen in theaters is the intriguing “Intruders,” in which the gifted performer takes you on an eerie and frightening journey.
Having just interviewed “Intruders” director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo about the story, The Film Strip asked Owen to talk about family secrets and their consequences. “I think that we all have them,” he reveals. “And I think that this is a very personal film to Juan Carlos and something that happened to him when he was young. He related to secrets that his family had and I think that’s why he wanted to explore them in this film. I think you have to take each case separately. It’s better maybe to get things out in the open. It just really depends.”
Children are fair game these days and audiences’ responses are baffling. “[It’s] probably because we remember being terrified,” Owen explains. “You know the one thing that resonated with me when I read the script is bad dreams and nightmares when you’re very young. They are very intense experiences. I remember it and I’ve seen it in my own children. I think you, adults can process them when you wake up and very quickly can figure out what’s real and what isn’t real. But for a child it can be really [frightening] it can really throw you off center.”
Although he is known for rough and tumble roles, is “Intruders” just as tasking? “It’s a good question. It’s harder work than you think because you’ve got to take the audience to quite an intense place because if you fall short, the thing doesn’t work. You have to get to a level of intensity. That’s why I thought Ella (Purnell) was so good in the movie because she, in some ways, really holds that together. It’s her kind of emotional terror that we’re gripped by as the film goes on. And it does take work to do that.
In the film, unresolved family issues apparently affect his character’s parenting skills. “There’s absolutely no question that the central theme of passing on fears to your children is a very real and truthful thing,” Owen admits. “I haave a friend who’s mother is scared of dogs and the kids are now terrified of dogs. I saw it in the mother and now see it in the children. That’s a very simplistic version but I think that kids are very sensitive and live what’s going on within people [around them] and specifically their parents.
As the interview was winding down, The Film Strip asked Owen why we haven’t read about him falling off a bar stool, passing out on the street from a drug overdose, in the company of hookers, or worse. His face became flushed and he started laughing hysterically. It was almost as if he felt embarrassed by being recognized and singled out for being special becauae he is living his life exactly like every decent, intelligent human being should. “I don’t know,” he said. “I mean I think the bottom line is that success in films came to me relatively late. I’ve been working a long time, over 10 years in the UK and small films and theater and TV. I had a sort of big TV hit when I was very young. So, I’d had experience with that kind of attention.
“I think when it happens to you a bit later [in life] you, you don’t take your eye off the main thing, which is the work. That’s the bottom line. That’s the way you’re judged. I think it could be very unsettling for a young actor when getting thrown into the spotlight. If you’re 20 years old and you end up in some movie that suddenly you’re the hot thing, there are so many people pulling at you and wanting a piece of you. You have to keep your eye on the [prize]; you’ve got to deliver the work. Everything else is what it is. But that’s the key thing. And I think when a bit older, you don’t forget that. It’s all about the work.”
Owen says he will start shooting “Blood Ties” in Brooklyn and the Bronx in April. There is also talk that he will be hooking up once again with Spike Lee for “Oldboy.”
Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]