LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Last spring, Australian actor Sam Worthington was a Hollywood newcomer and box office unknown who was busy promoting his starring role in big-budget action flick "Terminator: Salvation."
Seven months later, following his turn in James Cameron's $2.7 billion blockbuster "Avatar," Worthington is now forever associated with the highest grossing film of all time.
Still, the actor who was born in England and raised in Australia, goes largely unnoticed outside Hollywood because in "Avatar" he appears mostly as a blue-skinned animated character. But his audience recognition may be about to change on Friday with his starring role as Perseus in another major studio movie, "Clash of the Titans."
The 33-year-old told Reuters the film, a remake of 1981's feature of the same name, rounds out "The Sam Worthington Trilogy" from boyhood to manhood. And while that description might be stretching things, there's no doubt the trio of roles represents his rise from no-name actor to major rising star.
"It's the end of my trilogy in the sense that 'Terminator' is about a young man who was born. In 'Avatar,' I played Jake Sully as a kid who turns into a teenager and stands up to the bullies in the schoolyard. And 'Clash of the Titans' is about a troubled adolescent who's trying to figure out his place in the world and turns into a man," Worthington explained.
In an irony of modern-day stardom, Worthington's career boost in Hollywood came not so much by acting with others, as much as working alone -- in front of a green screen on which computer generated images are later placed for the effects-filled movies like "Titans" in which he has triumphed.
With virtually nothing in front of him except his imagination and a few stunt men, Worthington has expertly battled giant "Terminator" robots, gone to war with a tribe of blue natives on the planet Pandora in "Avatar", and is now riding -- or flying -- a winged-horse Pegasus in "Titans."
It's enough to leave his co-stars in awe. Veteran European actor Mads Mikkelsen, who plays Draco in "Titans," says fighting giant scorpions "would have been a lot harder if we didn't have 'Sam the Specialist' on set."
"He just went berserk with the sword-fighting," said Mikkelsen. "The rest of us were like, 'Alright, that's what we do' so we joined in. He became our mentor."
But Worthington remains modest at the compliment.
"I like doing these films," he said. "You leave your vanity at the door, you dive in and (in your mind) you're 100 percent attacking a scorpion. It brings out the child in me and hopefully will bring out the child in the audience."
Besides taking on larger-than-life creatures, his three Hollywood roles appear to have a common theme.
"The duality of man," said Worthington, noting that "one is part man, part god ("Titans"); the other is part man, part alien ("Avatar") and the first one ("Terminator") was part man, part robot."
"Obviously it's something I've been drawn to that has unconsciously come out," he said.
What also has come out is an understanding that the actor -- a one-time school drop-out and construction worker who before "Terminator" had mostly small film roles or appeared on TV -- is not just an actor for hire anymore, but a rising Hollywood star who causes a stir simply by what he wears.
When he was recently pictured in a Captain America t-shirt, the blogosphere lit up with speculation that he may be playing the title role in Hollywood's big screen version of the comic book character. (Actor Chris Evans has since been cast.)
"Everyone had a friggin' brouhaha about it, but I'm just a fan," he said.
Now he's taken to wearing t-shirts of his favorite bands during interviews - metal rock groups like Iron Maiden, Baroness, AC/DC, Pantera and Led Zeppelin among others.
"I'm under no illusions that people look at me, so if I'm going to be a billboard for something, I might as well be a billboard for bands I love," he said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte