Sam recently talked to Helen Barlow at sbs.com.auabout his upcoming movies. This is what he had to say -
HB – You haven’t been as visible of late.
Sam – I’ve finished around seven movies that haven’t come out. I wanted time off, (from leading roles) and did what I felt like doing. It’s more interesting to be in movies where you support actors, even if sometimes it’s kind of bizarre. I came in four weeks after they started filming Everest—two to three months after the guys had been up the mountain. You’re the gun for hire, and you come in armed up with a character and a direction you want to take, that you present to the director.
HB – Still, you will be the lead in James Cameron’s three Avatar sequels. Is it difficult not knowing when they will to start?
Sam – No, no. I’ve a rough idea when we’re meant to start, but that’s been shifting for the last four years. Jim’s in no hurry. No one tells him that he has to go and do it. He’s the boss, and when the boss says, “Come!” I’ll come and jump. That’s it.
HB – What effect did the first movie have on you?
Sam – It changed my life. James Cameron changed my life.
HB – What is your relationship with him?
Sam – He’s one of my closest friends. He’s a man who took an extreme risk on an actor who had primarily worked in Australia, and who was unknown anywhere else, to front a $200million-plus movie, and he backed me from the very beginning, even up until now. Without him, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity, so I’m indebted to him, forever.
HB – He has a farm in New Zealand.
Sam – Yeah, he bought half of New Zealand! He turned it into an eco-friendly farm.
HB – You’ve been there?
Sam – No, but we keep crossing paths. He’s a guy, who’s very passionate about saving the planet, and I think Avatar helped him cement that idea in his head, that there is something bigger than this industry, there’s something bigger than our own lives. I think the success of that movie made him realize that others felt the same way. He hit on something that affects us all, and how we view our position in the world.
HB – Did it affect you in any way, on an environmental level?
Sam – It’s about connectivity; we’re all connected. You can’t tell me that we’re just solo on this big ball of mud. We’re inclined to sit in a room like this, and do interviews, but our world has got to be a bit bigger than this. This can’t be the pinnacle.
HB – Given your recent run of movies, are you now like a travelling gypsy?
Sam – Yeah pretty much. I want to have a base and home, but because of the nature of the job I’m always travelling. I have a house in Hawaii, but I’m never there. LA’s my office–I go there to get a job, but I never really wanted to live there.
HB – Will you keep doing this for many years?
Sam – Yeah. I just did a job with Anthony Hopkins (Kidnapping Freddy Heineken). That guy’s turning 77, and he’s still making movies and TV shows.
HB – You were born in England, and your parents migrated to Australia when you were six months old, and you grew up in Western Australia. How important is it for you to make films in Australia?
Sam – The greatest thing that a movie like Avatar does, is to give you the power to come back to your home country, and help finance movies and stories that might not get financed. You’re giving back to the hand that helped craft you, and set you on your way. In Paper Planes I have a small role, where a 13 year old is the lead, and the director has a well-known career in Australia, but this could be the biggest movie of his career, because it’s travelling so much. (Paper Planes premiered in Toronto, and will soon screen at the Berlin Festival). So if my being involved with that helped them get over the line with the financing, that’s great. I went back to WA to make Drift, and it was the same thing. I only had a week’s work, but that got them the money to get over the line to make the movie.