Onscreen, Sam Worthington tends to play quiet, taciturn: the driven heroes of “Avatar,” “Clash of the Titan” and “Terminator: Salvation” and recently the tough army captain of “Hacksaw Ridge.” But get him talking, and you’ll learn a lot. Did you know the actor can be a bit of a nerd? He loves disappearing down Google rabbit holes, or reading books about the history of places where he’s filming. He was even very open to making “The Shack,” which is technically Hollywood’s latest Christian movie, but to him was an honest drama about a man dealing with grief.
Based on the bestseller, the film stars Worthington as a man who tumbles into depression after his daughter is murdered. He finds himself mysteriously lured to a remote shack, where he meets three enigmatic people, led by Octavia Spencer, who help him heal.
I’ve read that you’re a big reader, that you lug around a bag of books as you travel from set to set. Were you always that way, or did traveling and sitting around on sets do that to you?
I was always that way. I had a lot jobs that bored me when I was growing up. A building site can be a bit tedious, so books kind of get your imagination going.
What kinds of books do you read these days?
Now it’s a lot of “Cat in the Hat,” because I’m a dad. [Laughs] But I like non-fiction books more the older I get. I’m into history, especially if I’m working somewhere. I used to live in Hawaii, so I immersed myself in the Hawaiian culture by reading about it. When you’re a teenager and someone’s trying to force it down your throat, you don’t care. The older you get, the history of the world fascinates you more.
It’s true. School is wasted on the young.
I live in New York, and I’m fascinated by what’s underneath the city, things like that. I’d look at the High Line and think, ‘What’s the history of that?’ That leads you to learn what it was used for, that they wanted to build above the street, because the trains [that used to run there] were killing too many people. That leads you down another rabbit hole, then another rabbit hole — why Tribeca is named Tribeca, why Canal Street is called Canal Street. You just keeping going.
So you’re one of those people who spends hours Googling.
Pretty much, yeah. I’m a bit of a Luddite, but the Google rabbit hole happens a lot. My wife will be like, “What are you watching? What are you reading? How did you end up here?” [Laughs]
You’re probably great at dinner parties. You could keep busting out weird, arcane trivia.
I don’t go to dinner parties, but if I did, yeah. [Laughs]