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Actor Sam Worthington Finds Hope in "The Shack"

Hannah Goodwyn


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Look at actor Sam Worthington's IMDb credits and you'll find it's full of action/adventure movies. He's battled the underworld as Zeus' son in Clash of the Titans, rebelled with the human resistance in Terminator Salvation, and turned on Col. Quaritch to help the Na'vi in James Cameron's Avatar (a role he's reprising for Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and Avatar 4).

But ask the Australian actor about his collection of work and he'll say they're all family dramas at their core. So his next theatrical release, The Shack, isn't that much of a stretch after all.

Worthington didn't know about William Paul Young's bestseller when it released to fanfare (and controversy) in 2007. In fact, he didn't pick up a copy until Lionsgate pitched the movie to him.

When he read it, he was struck by its compelling story about a father who wrestles with forgiveness and faith after his youngest is brutally murdered.

"The anger and grief, and bitterness," Worthington says, "all of the negative energy that comes into our life and we hold onto. We build these things and live in them, like 'the shack'. To learn how to break out of that and let it go is through forgiveness. The journey of forgiving not only people that have done us wrong, but forgiving God for letting it happen, forgiving eventually -- and most importantly -- forgiving ourselves, and discovering how to do that. I thought, that's a great message. That's a very strong and important message to get across."

In the PG-13 film, from the producers of The Blind Side, Worthington's character, Mack, struggles with forgiving his daughter's killer. At one point, God explains to Mack that 'healing takes time'.

"We live in a culture where everything is now. Everything is at the touch of a button," he says. "To learn that we can get through any devastating heartbreak in our life by just believing that step-by-step, moment by moment...that's a great message that I wanted to make sure is going out there more. I'm such an immediate person. I want everything solved now, but that's not the case. That's not how it's going to happen."

Mack's heartbreaking journey leads him to an encounter with the Trinity (the main point of controversy for some Christians), with God appearing to him in the form of a black woman (played by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer).

"I said to the producer at the start, 'if we look at this and take a reverential approach to this, well actually, you won't be as truthful'," Worthington recalls. "If you look at God as a friend or as a motherly figure and actually appeared to him in this form, looking unthreatening.... If she appeared as a man, he probably would have called it off. If you approach Jesus and the Holy Spirit from a friendship, grounded point-of-view, it allows you to be more heartfelt and more truthful with your approach."

A husband and father, Worthington knows what he wants the by-product of watching The Shack to be for moviegoers.

"Hopefully, it's a hopeful film," he says. "I think in this day and age a little hope goes a long way, doesn't it? Through adversity and through all of the trials and tribulations of life, there's hope."

"I've just had kids and I don't want them to live in a nihilistic world. I don't want them to have a father who think things are going to get bad and there's nothing you can do about it," Worthington says. "I want them to believe that this time that we have on this earth is limited, that you're never alone, that you can have a relationship with your faith in God and it's OK. You can have hope."

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's