Wacko the diddle oh it’s a dead-set dinki di Avatar
A red carpet in Los Angeles. March 7, 2010: A handsome yet self-conscious Australian actor, who happens to have recently starred in the highest-grossing film of all time, is stopped for an interview while walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards.
When asked the mandatory question put to all Oscar attendees: “Your clothing, please discuss”, he replies “Payless Shoes and a friggin’ kick ass suit.” Quizzed as to the suit’s designer (it’s all about the labels, darling, hence the “who” and not “what” are you wearing) he shrugs “some bloke”.
Right on cue, the media in the actor’s homeland conclude this response to be proof of his down-to-earth appeal and marvel over his grounded, humble attitude amid a sea of Hollywood shallowness.
Perhaps inspired by an award ceremony devoted to the mechanics of entertainment, the recital of the above script pretty much went off without a hitch this week.
So it was largely unnoticed that the behaviour of the actor in question, Sam Worthington, was actually more impolite than self-effacing. That his determination to appease his mates back home that he was a bit too cool for all this carry-on was immature rather than refreshing.
I would wager the cost of Worthington’s outfit that he was acutely aware of what label he was sporting (which, for the record, was a Brioni, the very same Italian suit favoured by James Bond and with a price tag starting in the thousands).
Much as he would like us to believe otherwise, it’s all but impossible Worthington would have escaped the behind-the-scenes wrangling over finalising his choice of attire. Not to mention the small fact that his girlfriend and date for the evening, Natalie Mark, is a professional stylist.
Nothing at an event like this happens by chance. Self-deprecating quips notwithstanding, the Avatar frontman’s appearance at the Oscars was no less calculated than that of the painfully slim starlets who consumed little more than celery smoothies in the weeks leading up to the ceremony.
There are some places a person can find themselves from time to time without really thinking it through. Such as the bedroom furniture department of Ikea on a Sunday afternoon. Or at a kebab stand at 2am after a night out with friends.
But nobody – nobody – ends up at the Oscars by accident. It’s a room reserved for the ambitious, the powerful and the well-connected.
It’s to Worthington’s credit that he made the cut. A million unemployed actors would happily ditch their experimental theatre prospects for the chance to stand in his Payless-purchased shoes.
So why all the feigned indifference? The continual assertions of how he’s just a fair dinkum bloke who’d rather be at the pub than mixing with the film industry’s finest?
A former bricklayer, Worthington has the perpetual air of being concerned with what his friends will make of his success. Let on he knows how to pronounce the name of an Italian designer? Maaate, he’d never live it down.
Worthington worked hard to get where he is. He knew where he was headed when he endured countless auditions over a six-month period at the behest of James Cameron to secure leading man honours in the most expensive movie ever made.
It’s a shame someone so obviously talented and focused feels the need to publicly downplay those very attributes. Are we really going to judge him if he dares to admit he had to work damn hard to get where he is?
There’s a reason movie stars are so ridiculously overpaid. It’s not (contrary to what some of them might like to think) because they are so brilliantly talented every word they utter is worth millions of dollars.
The studios sign off on hefty pay cheques for the whole package. It’s not just about shooting the film itself – it’s the subsequent responsibilities. Schmoozing journalists in press junkets; handling their personal life with a vague sense of decorum; and charming audiences at premieres across the world.
For those tortured artists who feel it really should be “all about the work”, then they are simply in the wrong job. So you just want to say your lines and go home? Then stick to community theatre. Movie stardom comes at a price, and it’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise.
There’s plenty of talk in this country about our supposed love affair with the tall-poppy syndrome. But what is often overlooked is the support shown to our rising stars by the local media.
Promising talents like Worthington are given plenty of much-needed exposure in the fledgling days of their career.
It’s nice to see that support continuing now Worthington has lived up to predictions. Indeed, with a slate of films in the pipeline, his star is only set to rise further.
Hopefully he will retain some humility and perspective as his profile explodes. But I’m talking about genuine modesty; not the counterfeit version. There’s no need to pretend the machinations of Hollywood are beneath a “fair dinkum” Aussie. That’s not laconic. In fact, it only belies an arrogance and ungraciousness that is unnecessary in any country.
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