Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox
It's a tall order: Star for Hollywood's record-setting director (James Cameron, left, in his first feature since "Titanic") in a 3-D, hybrid live action-computer animated movie, playing somebody paralyzed from the waist down. Sam Worthington,right, the Australian actor at the center of Cameron's "Avatar," wasn't content with just that heroic effort: The 32-year-old also stars in "Terminator Salvation" with Christian Bale and opposite Keira Knightley in "Last Night."
"He'd never done a big film of any kind," says Cameron, who says he was captivated by Worthington's on-set determination. "He's just game for anything -- he just walks in and says, 'Throw something at me,' " Cameron says. "What you get is the unexpected -- a quality that is really real."
Given that "Avatar" is a highly stylized fantasy, Cameron says it's essential that his lead actor be simultaneously approachable and superhuman. "He has that quality of being a guy you'd want to have a beer with," Cameron says, "and he ultimately becomes a leader who transforms the world."
-- John Horn