'Avatar' star Sam Worthington reveals alcohol addiction: 'Drinking helped me get through the day'

Avatar's Sam Worthington opens up about sobriety and struggling with fame.
Avatar's Sam Worthington opens up about sobriety and struggling with fame. (Photo: FilmMagic) (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin via Getty Images)

Sam Worthington opened up about his sobriety for the first time. In a new interview with Variety, the 46-year-old Avatar: The Way of Water star said he nearly lost everything as he privately struggled with alcohol abuse.

"Nine out of 10 people couldn't tell," Worthington, who is now eight years sober, recalled. "They could probably smell it on me, but when they looked at me, they couldn't tell. I was still doing my job — I just don't think I was doing it very well."

The Australian actor's alcoholism coincided with his rise to fame. Worthington was relatively unknown until the first Avatar film was released in 2009. Then, he somewhat reluctantly stepped into the leading man role with a string of blockbusters like Terminator Salvation and Clash of the Titans. In 2014, he was arrested for punching a photographer. Worthington said he was never comfortable with the attention that came with his job.

"I'd go haywire over someone asking me for a photograph or taking a photograph of me," Worthington explained. "If someone approached me, my anxiety would go through the roof."

Worthington said he would start drinking in the morning. Before a flight, he'd have four or five glasses of Champagne. His wife, Lara — whom the actor wed in 2014 — took notice.

"I couldn't see it," Worthington said. "I thought it was normal."

The Man on a Ledge star added: "I didn't like who I was. Drinking helped me get through the day.”

Worthington related Australian culture with his impulse to booze.

"In Australia it's ingrained in the society," Worthington shared. "We don't necessarily talk about AA and things like that. You don't recognize it's an illness, and you don't understand that some people are just wired differently."

When asked if he was a mean drunk, Worthington said he was an "emotional drunk."

"I got more emotional and erratic the longer I drank. I don't think I was mean, exactly, but I could be belligerent, petulant," he continued.

Worthington's wife gave him an ultimatum. "You can do what you want, but I don't need to be around this," Lara said. Worthington noted how it was said with love, not anger or disappointment, and got through to him. They now have three sons.

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