August 2, 1976
Background and early workEdit
Worthington graduated form NIDA (Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art) in 1998 at the age of 22. Sam received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Arthur Wellesley in his first professional role in the Belvoir Street Theatre production Judas Kiss (directed by Neil Armfield).
Also in 2000, Sam made his first movie appearance in the highly acclaimed Australian movie Bootmen, about a troop of `tap dogs'; the film also starred Adam Garcia as Sam's brother. Minor roles proceeded in Hart's War and Matter of Life before Sam starred in another hailed Australian drama, 2002's Dirty Deeds, which also starred Toni Collette and John Goodman.
The following year he starred in yet another Aussie film, opposite David Wenham in Gettin' Square. The director of the film, Jonathan Teplitzky originally tested actors who were up to 8 years older than the then 27 year old Worthington. Teplitzky wasn't sure Sam "could convincingly play a tough guy and also have elements of the leading man about him", but in the end Teplitzky decided Sam was "fantastic", and had "David playing the older, slightly more streetwise accomplice" proclaiming "it worked".
But it wasn't until 2004 that Sam got his big break. Having made his directorial debut on the short film, "Enzo", Sam was offered the role of Joe in the unique and greatly acclaimed Australian drama, written and directed by Cate Shortland, Somersault opposite Abbie Cornish. Somersault took 7 years to make, and Shortland wanted to cast the perfect actor in the role of Joe.
Shortland did much preparation for the film, arranging for a 3-week rehearsal period prior to shooting, it all paid off. The film did amazingly well, making a clean sweep of the Australian Film Institute awards in 2004 to win in all 13 film categories - the first time this has ever occurred in the award's history. It beat the previous record of eight AFI awards shared by Lantana (2001) and Newsfront (1978). Sam won the AFI for best male actor.
Jake Sully is a rich and complex character with a rare combination of passion, strength, street smarts and soul. It is a role requiring a lot from an actor – a fact that James Cameron acknowledged when he, Jon Landau and casting director Margery Simkin began their search to fill the part. “The trick about Jake was not writing the character,” says Cameron. “The trick was finding the guy to play him.”
After spending months looking at actors in the U.S. and Europe, Simkin reported to Cameron that she found a candidate... in Australia. Sam Worthington, Simkin told the filmmaker, had a “visceral quality and would make audiences believe that people would follow him. There was an intelligence and intensity in his eyes that never wavered.”
Intrigued, the filmmakers offered Worthington an audition, but he was initially skeptical due to the secrecy surrounding the project and the scant details about the character of Jake being offered to Worthington at that time. “I got a phone call to do this audition, but they wouldn’t tell me anything about the script or even who the director was,” Worthington recalls. “And I thought, ‘Well, here’s another waste of my time.’ Then, a week later, I got another phone call…’Look, Jim Cameron wants to fly you to L.A. to audition for him.’ And I said, ‘Yes, but for what?’”
Of course, the audition was for Avatar and a role Worthington would come to embrace. But even after Cameron filled him in on the story and on the character of Jake, adding an intriguing question to complete his pitch to the actor – “Are you ready to start the adventure?” – Worthington had one earthbound priority to fulfill before beginning his journey to Pandora. “I told Jim, yes, of course I’ll join him on the adventure – but first I’ve got to get the brakes fixed on my car.”
For Cameron and Landau, Worthington was worth the wait. “I think one of the hardest things to find in an actor of Sam’s age is a combination of sensitivity, vulnerability and strength, and Sam has all of that,” says Landau.
While many of the actors, including Worthington, received special physical and weapons training, Worthington was more interested in the mental preparation to portray Jake. “I didn’t want my prep to be like boot camp,” he says. “Anyone can do push-ups. I hung out with Jim’s brother, John David, a former Marine. To me it was more about capturing the way these Marines see the world – and how their training can make them think they’re unstoppable.” 
- He won a scholarship to the John Curtin School of Performing Arts in Fremantle, WA.
- Said in an interview with Rove McManus that he had no intention of becoming an actor and went to NIDA to support a friend but was pushed through and got through. His friend did not get into NIDA.
- Was in the same class as Matthew Newton, the son of TV personalities Bert and Patty Newton.
- Was a finalist to play James Bond in Casino Royale (2006) before Daniel Craig was cast.
- Was a bricklayer before becoming an actor.
- He sold all of his possessions and lived in a $2,000 car around 2006, comparing his actions to pressing Control-Alt-Delete on a computer. He found residence after successfully auditioning for Avatar.
- Worthington was born in Godalming, Surrey, England, and moved to Perth, Western Australia during his childhood.
- Beat out two other actors for the role of Jake Sully: Chris Evans and Channing Tatum. This was based on his delivery of the crucial speech to the Na'vi at the Tree of Souls.
- Bootmen (2000)
- Hart's War (2002)
- Dirty Deeds (2002)
- Gettin' Square (2003)
- Somersault (2004)
- Thunderstruck (2004)
- The Great Raid (2005)
- Macbeth (2006)
- Rogue (2007)
- Terminator Salvation (2009)
- Avatar (2009)
- Last Night (2010)
- Clash of the Titans (2010)
- The Debt (2010)
- The Fields (2011)
- Man on a Ledge (2012)
- Avatar 2 (2021)
- Avatar 3 (2023)
- Avatar 4 (2025)