"Man on a Ledge" star Sam Worthington should be pretty accustomed to working with green screen by now, after "Avatar" and "Terminator: Salvation," but the comforts of a visual-effects-ready backlot stage were not an option for the Aussie star this last time around.
Going out on a ledge isn't a figure of speech here: The actor literally spent several days filming on the ledge of a New York building, about 200 feet above ground. The actor and filmmakers chalked the decision up to savvy audiences who can tell when CGI has created an artificial background.
"I think sometimes an audience demands a certain authenticity. People actually knowing that I'm up there 200-odd feet in the air adds to the thrilling aspect of it," Worthington told the Ministry of Gossip at the film's L.A. premiere Monday at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
It's Worthington's character who does most of the high-up dancing with death, but others involved with the movie got to give it a try, too, including Anthony Mackie and Ed Burns. Actor Titus Welliver, who plays an NYPD officer in the movie, wasn't feeling quite as adventurous.
"I was offered the opportunity, and I flatly refused because even when I would watch Sam when I was on the ground, when he was on the ledge, it would make my hands perspire. It made me so nervous," Welliver said.
Worthington started the film with a fear of heights but eventually found that "you get comfortable out there when your confidence builds."
Director Asger Leth and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura both walked out onto the ledge.
"The director and I both said, 'If we're going to ask our actors to go there, we're going to out there, too,'" Di Bonaventura said.
The producer said aside from testing out the ledge for Worthington, the most daring thing he's done from far off the ground was climbing on Yosemite's Cathedral Rocks. Leth revealed he had a "scary" experience at about 14,000 feet in Argentina’s mountains shooting a commercial for Guinness.
But Worthington had no tales of daring feats to regale reporters with.
"Trust me -- in real life I’m a pussycat," he said. "I stay at home, make scrambled eggs, watch 'Law and Order,' pretty normal stuff. I only do crazy stuff in the film."
Summit Entertainment's "Man on a Ledge" hits theaters Friday. The thriller also stars Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris and Jamie Bell.
Photo: Sam Worthington at the L.A. premiere of "Man on a Ledge" with Crystal Umphrey. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press