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Whatever Happened To Sam Worthington From Avatar?

Sam Worthington was once seemingly everywhere all at once. At 33, he was the lead in James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster, "Avatar," which became the highest-grossing film of all time, a crown it briefly lost to "Avengers: Endgame," which does hold a higher gross domestically (via Box Office Mojo). Worthington portrayed Jake Sully, a paraplegic former Marine who journeys to the world of Pandora and gets caught between its inhabitants and his own people. It was a massive role for the young actor and one that required him to work with cutting-edge technology at the time for the 3D release of "Avatar."

The world is still waiting on those promised "Avatar" sequels, so it may feel for some like Sam Worthington simply disappeared from screens with his signature franchise moving forward so slowly. Worthington has been up to plenty since "Avatar," though, and despite his rise to stardom kick-started by the Cameron production facing some roadblocks, he has kept working and challenged himself with his acting choices while we all wait for its sequel.

Sam Worthington's other franchises died out

Next to his work in "Avatar," Sam Worthington's launch into the stratosphere of celebrity was helped by two other lead roles in major franchises. In 2009, he appeared in "Terminator Salvation," the attempted reboot of "Avatar" director James Cameron's classic "Terminator" franchise. The following year, Worthington also led the "Clash of the Titans" remake. That put Worthington at the helm of three major franchises.

The problem is, a sequel to "Terminator Salvation" never materialized, and the franchise was eventually rebooted twice more, with both "Terminator Genisys" and "Terminator: Dark Fate" faring worse domestically at the box office and guaranteeing that no sequel to the McG-directed movie would be produced (via Box Office Mojo). The film received a mixed response from fans, but Worthington earned some praise for his performance (via Los Angeles Times), one that likely wouldn't have led to any sequel appearances for the actor anyway, with Christian Bale ready to take the driver's seat by the end of the movie.

Worthington's other franchise failure came from "Clash of the Titans." Although the 2010 remake managed to find box office success, earning nearly $500 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo), its sequel, 2012's "Wrath of the Titans," failed to garner the same interest, earning just over $300 million (via Box Office Mojo). Both films also received rotten scores from critics and audiences (via Rotten Tomatoes).

He's done video game voice work

On top of his work in film, Sam Worthington was also a prominent voice in video games in the 2010s. He is behind the character Alex Mason in the popular "Call of Duty: Black Ops," a voice role he reprised for sequels in 2012 and 2018. Worthington was unfortunately part of several voice cast changes for 2020's "Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War" (via Game Rant).

Worthington being replaced unfortunately marks yet another franchise seemingly ending for him, but his three appearances add up to more than he's had in any other franchise (so far). "Call of Duty" also gave him his only voice acting experience, with all of his other roles being in live-action television or movies, so the actor must have seen something special in doing the role to make the leap behind the microphone. Worthington's in good company. Other "Call of Duty: Black Ops" voice actors include Michael Keaton and Ed Harris (via NME).

He's worked with Mel Gibson

Sam Worthington appeared in smaller and smaller projects like "The Keeping Room" and "Kidnapping Mr. Heineken" following his big franchise swings, but he wasn't back on many people's radar until the year 2016, when he found himself part of an Oscar-caliber movie.

Worthington's choice of smaller projects could boil down to necessity, wanting to experiment, or even personal struggles and bad headlines stemming from a highly publicized 2014 physical altercation with a paparazzo (via The Daily Telegraph). Whatever his reasons, it took Mel Gibson to give him a slight career comeback. Worthington took on the supporting role of Captain Glover in the World War II-set "Hacksaw Ridge," also starring Andrew Garfield and Luke Bracey. The movie was nominated for six Oscars, winning two, and earned over $180 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo).

It wasn't long after that that audiences saw Worthington in another dramatic performance in 2017's "The Shack," a film that also found success in theaters, earning nearly $100 million worldwide and returning Worthington to his leading man status (via Box Office Mojo).

He found success on TV with Manhunt

Sam Worthington hasn't had an "Avatar"-sized hit since the James Cameron-directed release in 2009, but he's also branched out and found success on television. In 2017, Worthington appeared in the highly praised first season of "Manhunt" as an FBI profiler hunting down Ted Kaczynski (Paul Bettany). The Discovery series earned a 96% fresh rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Its first season was successful enough to warrant a Round 2, though "Manhunt: Deadly Games" follows a new story based on a true crime.

Fans will be seeing a lot more of Worthington on TV since he's set to appear in "Under the Banner of Heaven," an upcoming series starring Andrew Garfield as a cop investigating a murder connected to an affluent Utah family, with Worthington playing one of the members of this family. The FX show has some major weight behind the cameras, with "Milk" screenwriter Dustin Lance Black serving as its creator and "Da Vinci Code" director Ron Howard as a producer.

He's been making Avatar sequels

Part of what's kept Sam Worthington busy since "Avatar" was released in 2009 is the production of the sequels. The long-in-development "Avatar 2" has faced numerous delays, thanks partly to director James Cameron deciding to tackle multiple sequels at once and needing performance capture technology to advance as was needed for the first movie and partly to complications from the COVID-19 pandemic (via Twitter).

Worthington and new and old faces to the franchise have been hard at work to complete Cameron's vision, though. "Avatar 2" is currently set to hit theaters on December 16 this year, with three planned sequels set to be released in 2024, 2026, and 2028. In other words, if you felt like Sam Worthington was everywhere all at once when he first burst onto the scene, you're likely going to be feeling that way again soon if the "Avatar" sequels can in any way match the original's box office heights. Photos released from the set have shown a laughing Worthington working alongside Cameron, clearly excited to be back in that world again (via Total Film).