Sam Worthington And Liam Neeson Talk Upping The Family Drama And CGI In Wrath Of The Titans

After snagging a whopping $493.2 million at the worldwide box office, Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson are back for more in the Clash of the Titans sequel, Wrath of the Titans, and this time around, they’re surrounded by a creative team that’s looking to earn just as much and make due on that money, too.

It’s been a while since the events of Clash. Perseus (Worthington) is now a loving father and hopes to enjoy a quite life with his boy. However he’s still the son of Zeus, so when the Titans threaten the world yet again and the gods no longer have the power to stop them, it’s up to Perseus to keep the Titans from invading. With the help of the son of Poseidon, Agenor (Toby Kebbell), and Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Perseus sets out to infiltrate Tartarus in an effort save mankind.

With Wrath of the Titans due to rock theaters tomorrow, Worthington and Neeson as well as Toby Kebbell, director Jonathan Liebesman and co-writer Dan Mazeau sat down to run through the filmmaking process during a press conference. The gang chatted about working with so many digital effects, what they hoped to achieve in Wrath as opposed to Clash and much more. Check out the highlights from the event below.

These stories are incredibly old. Why do you think we’re still interested?

Liam Neeson: They’re thousands of years old, they tap into every culture in the world and they’re essentially the same story which is an innocent has to go through a trial or ordeal to save his society, comes out the other end having learned something that advances his society onwards. I must write that down. That was quite good. [Laughs]

Sam Worthington: I’ll write that down. [Laughs] I just feel that they deal with themes and they’re big themes like destiny and responsibility and these big family values that are still relevant to us today. That’s why these mythological tales or Shakespeare or these other kind of big folklore tale have survived, because we can find relevance in them in our own society, in our own way now.

Neeson: They explain our place in the world, I think, essentially.

Liam, how’s it working with your old friend Ralph [Fiennes] again?

Neeson: Friend? Who said we were friends? [Laughs] No, he is, he’s one of my dearest, oldest friends. It was terrific. When we did the first one, Clash of the Titans, we found it hard to act with each other so I would look at his forehead and he would look at my forehead because sometimes we made eye contact it got quite silly. But we were more restrained this time and we had a lot more deeper, darker issues to act so we didn’t laugh as much.

Sam, at the Clash junket, you mentioned you learned the advantage of having something practical to work with when dealing with effects. Did that approach of work with CG work again here?

Worthington: It’s a more improved version of interacting in the sense that this one, Jonathan’s very good at combining the practical with the special effect. He’d learn a lot of techniques himself, like a lot of those explosions are real, a lot of the trees going off are real, so you’re dealing with an abundance more of practical stuff to interact with. And then both me and him, we would bring the special effects guys on set a lot more and realize that we’re not going to be dictated by the special effects; you have to work in tandem because the special effects can come in five, six months later down the track. We’d like to balance and play with what we have now and then get them to kind of play catch up a bit rather than us playing catch-up, the reverse, and I think that actually helps because then you’re working together. Sometimes they’re off in the back in their own tent. Well, I don’t like that. I’d rather them be on the frontline with us and then you can collaborate or argue. It’s almost like learning what I learned on Avatar then on Clash 1; you just keep improving it and refining it and I think therefore the interaction between us and CG becomes a lot more organic.

Liam, you also have to deal with these things, but not in as direct a way. How do you approach this and maintain character while dealing with the effects?

Neeson: Well, I’m from the old school, from the first Star Wars, which was colored tennis balls. And I kind of like my tennis balls, I have to admit. I get used to them, you know? We had lots of little bits of colored tape as well and you have to act sometimes to bits of tape; that’s okay.

Jonathan Liebesman: We’d put a smiley face. I’d say, ‘This is Ralph. He can’t be here today. Do you want Ralph smiling?’ Ralph was very good that day.

Was there anything you wanted to do differently in Wrath as compared to Clash?

Neeson: I just wanted more interaction with my son and my brothers essentially, which I think the script certainly provided. It touched on those dynamics of how Hades and Zeus became separated and the jealousies that drove them apart, that’s all touched on without it going off on a huge, big other tangent. And a father-son relationship, which we can all relate to.

Worthington: I think it’s its own thing. I’ve been pretty vocal about how I felt, personally, about the first one and what I did in the first one. I haven’t done that in a way of putting the first one down at all, it’s just I think, to me, it’s my responsibility to try and, in this one, create a character rather than just a conduit for the action. And I think by coming up with a different dynamic or the themes of responsibility for this dysfunctional family who just happen to be Gods in a world of monsters, you just kept going back to that. Ever action scene was always like, does this relate to a family? If you look at the first Chimera chase, it’s me chasing after my son; it’s got nothing to do with the f***ing monster. The second one with the Cyclops, which is more of a fun chase, is me trying to go after the cousin. That became the main factor; drill this family story into this big spectacular blockbuster and if we lose sight of that then some of the things I felt were misplaced and misdirected in the first one will come back to haunt us and I didn’t want that.

Liam, can you talk about your scene with Ralph at the end and what was going on on set that day?

Neeson: It was a real set in Wales, hundreds of extras and stuff and you’re doing things like this [makes fighting motion] and I’m looking at him to see what he’s doing. [Laughs]

Worthington: When I first saw the movie it was with that. I told you, I thought it was funny because you looked like you were doing a dance. [Laughs] Nothing was added!

Neeson: It felt a little bit silly. [Laughs]

Worthington: What’s that thing Marlon Brando says? A strange occupation for a grown man.

Liebesman: I couldn’t believe watching you guys, that it was Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes and you weren’t embarrassed. You just went for it!

Neeson: You have to go for it.

Liebesman: No, which I thought was very admirable and professional. [Laughs]

Neeson: They pay me millions. [Laughs]

What was your favorite scene to work on?

Worthington: Mine’s the Minotaur, just because it’s something we talked about way back, having a labyrinth, the fact that it moves I thought was a really cool concept. The fact that we had a set that actually moved was fantastic for us. I just like it because, to me, it was a brutal fight like UFC and I just thought that’s something different. I was getting a bit over heroes that have big six packs and do stylized action scenes. That was the trump card of saying, I want to go back to movies I grew up watching where the hero got beaten up, he’s the old gunslinger who’s a bit rusty and cops a lot of hits and to me, that was the cherry on the cake of what I wanted to achieve in regards to the action.

Neeson: my favorites scenes were with Sam at the beginning, when Zeus appears to him, asks for his help. And my scenes with Ralph, I have no scenes with Toby, but –

Kebbell: Apart from the scene where I carried you down the hill. [Laughs]

Neeson: Oh, you did!

What were your favorite villains to fight in this movie?

Worthington: I like all of them. It’s how you make them different. I went back and me and Jonathan looked at movies like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon and old westerns where the action and the villains they meant something. In this, when the Chimera appears, we boo him because he’s killing the whole village. It’s how to take these action scenes and ground them and create a villain that’s worth booing. Hades, Ralph, to his credit, creates a villain that’s worth booing at the start. Kronos itself is a villain worth booing. Sometimes in spectacle movies you can lose sight of that. I just got that drilled into my head by Jim [Cameron]; create villains that not only do you want to cheer, but are worth booing in a big cinema or IMAX. All of them have that. The Minotaur is a horror movie in itself. It’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You don’t see him until the end. It’s Aliens.

What do you think you need to do to attract an audience to a 3D movie nowadays?

Worthington: Make it good! I’ve been in the one that was most revered and in the most slated. [Laughs] Jim’s drilled 3D into my head and what the complexities of it is and how it can be utilized and I know that definitely on this, me and Jonathan, that was one of my first meetings with Jonathan was if you’re gonna come into this, how are you gonna shoot it? You gonna shoot it in 3D? If you convert it, are you gonna have a stereoscopic guy on set the whole time? How are we gonna do this because I don’t want to be wearing the brunt in a situation like this when it comes to 3D, which is something that in a way is out of my hands. If used correctly, I’ve always said it can draw you into a world, and with movies like this, it’s perfectly. With blockbusters, it’s perfect. It can draw you into a world. If used incorrectly, I’ve been a part of it, it can give someone an aneurism. And it take you out of the story.

Staff Writer for CinemaBlend.