Interview: Sam Worthington on the Rewards of Building Characters in ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’

FX on Hulu’s limited series Under the Banner of Heaven explores a violent murder and the entrenched nature of a fundamentalist Mormon community. Its cast is led by Andrew Garfield as a Mormon detective grappling with his own faith. Among the excellent ensemble is Wyatt Russell, as well as Sam Worthington, who portrays Ron Lafferty, a member of a large family who doesn’t always see things the same way and goes down a dangerous path.

Awards Radar had the chance to speak with Worthington about what he latched on to in the role and his acting career in general. On whether viewers might associate this story of extremism with all Mormons, and creator Dustin Lance Black’s contributions, Worthington responded:

“It’s not an exposé on Mormonism, far from it. You’re talking about a very small fundamentalist group, and that kind of zealotness is in religions across the world. You’re looking at how these fanatics can grow and develop, and the dangers of that way of thinking, more than it just chastising the Mormon religion. The fact that Lance grew up in the Mormon community I think helps, because he’s very delicate towards it and sensitive towards the subject matter and sensitive towards the religion.”

On his journey as an actor bringing him back to the Avatar sequels and working with James Cameron, Worthington shared:

“It’s taken me a long time to figure out exactly what this craft is. And then when you go back to something like Avatar, I’m offering a different kind of approach to Jim that he enjoys, and especially in that type of movie, to free up that movie with all the technology we’ve got is what we’re after. That movie really only works if the heart is true.”

Watch the full conversation below:

Under the Banner of Heaven is available to stream on FX on Hulu.


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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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