Now, she’s rarely seen in the public eye – and when she is, we’re quickly reminded that this is a woman who has lived and learnt more than many of us could imagine.
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Recently stepping out for the opening of Louis Vuitton’s new flagship store in Sydney in a chic ensemble by the fashion house, soon-to-be mum-of-three Worthington has come a long way from the bikini-clad teen who once stood on a beach and uttered six now-iconic words.
In fact – she’s come from halfway around the globe, where she moved with husband Sam Worthington, away from her headline-ridden life in Australia almost seven years ago.
Having risen to fame as the face of Australia’s iconic “Where the bloody hell are ya?” tourism campaign that was later banned in the UK, Lara Worthington (nee Bingle)’s rise from bikini babe bred in Sydney’s Shire to a full-blown Hollywood style icon is an intriguing one with almost too many chapters to comprehend for her 32 years.
Now, a mother of two boys and pregnant with her third, married to actor Sam Worthington, 43, and living in LA, her life looks vastly different even from her well-documented stint in Sydney’s eastern suburbs where drama seemed to follow her everywhere she went.
Worthington was 18 when the $180 million advertising Tourism Australia campaign dropped.
She was a budding teenage model from Cronulla until she uttered the six words that caused uproar.
The mum-of-three was swept up into what is now one of Australia’s most memorable tourism campaigns – save for the ever-parodied “Throw a shrimp on the barbie.”
Banned in the UK amid fierce debate, the commercial was slammed for its perceived vulgarity. Less drastically in Singapore, it was changed to the innocuous “so where are you?”.
By association, it was Worthington’s face that accompanied every story surrounding it.
Still – it remains iconic worldwide.
Even Tony Blair, while delivering a keynote speech during a visit to Canberra, said his first thought on arrival in Australia was “Where the bloody hell am I?”
Worthington’s instant star status as “the girl from the tourism ad” seemingly set her up for a life under constant scrutiny.
While it was Worthington’s modelling work that thrust her into the spotlight to begin with, in an unfair twist, it later became her tumultuous relationships that kept her there.
Two years after the controversial advertisement, in March 2008, Worthington announced her engagement to Australian cricketer Michael Clarke.
Another two years on from that, however, they called things off.
During their engagement, Worthington’s father had died from bowel cancer. Fresh into her early 20s – a time of self-discovery – Worthington herself later opened up about feeling as though she was living in Clarke’s shadow during the relationship and unable to “experience (other) opportunities”.
“The best thing I ever did was leave (Clarke),’’ she told news.com.au of her split from Australia’s most prestigious sporting skipper – a dream of his she loathed living beneath.
The story of their split that made headlines, however, was one of fierce arguments, particularly unconfirmed rumours Worthington flushed her $200,000 4.7 carat diamond engagement ring down the toilet, a rumour fuelled by a public dust-up at the SCG.
The worst, however, was yet to come – with most assuming their split was directly linked to her 2010 nude photo scandal.
Weeks before Worthington and Clarke split, a naked photo of the model emerged – taken by AFL player Brendan Fevola during their brief fling in 2006.
The image depicted Worthington in the shower with an anguished expression on her face, as though telling the photographer to leave her alone.
SCRAPPED LEGAL BATTLE
Eight years before Australia passed ‘revenge porn’ legislation, making non-consensual sharing of intimate images online punishable by criminal penalties of up to seven years in prison, Worthington sought to sue her ex for distributing a naked photo in a closely-followed case.
She reportedly unknowingly had an affair with Fevola during his marriage to Alex Fevola, and attempted to sue him for breach of privacy, defamation and misuse of her image for the release of the photo.
The legal proceedings never went ahead, however, and it later emerged that she and her agent Max Markson sold her side of the story to Woman’s Day for $200,000 – the same publication that published the original photo allegedly taken by Fevola.
TOUGH FEW YEARS
2010 marked the beginning of a difficult few years for Worthington.
She was dropped as the face of swimwear brand Speedo, losing her $250,000 a year contract.
The following year, she had a crack at Dancing With The Stars only to be dropped three weeks in.
And her love life was just as dire, with the star selling a story about a budding relationship with rugby player Danny Cipriani to a woman’s magazine, later admitting he dumped her soon after it was published.
Cashing in on her life in the spotlight, the star looked to reality TV, launching Being Lara Bingle in 2012.
The short-lived series provided access into all aspects of her life, complete with a televised colonic, and a glimpse into the plight of her troubled older brother Josh, who was convicted of assault in 2012.
The show (though revered by TV nostalgics now) was a flop, and was canned by the network after one season.
Soon after the show was cancelled, Worthington made headlines for legal issues again – fined $3500 and banned from driving for a year after fleeing the scene of a traffic accident.
Things continued to go downhill when she split from her fashion designer beau of 14 months, Gareth Moody – who she problematically credited to helping her lose 12kg in an interview.
But in 2013, she met Avatar star Sam Worthington, sold her Darling Point pad, and upped and moved to New York – putting the years of scandal behind her.
ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN THE US
Though she’d found happiness with Worthington and was settling into life in the US, things didn’t start so smoothly for the model’s relocation.
After an ugly stoush with a photographer during which she was allegedly kicked on the street, her now-husband Sam was arrested for assault.
He had allegedly punched paparazzo Sheng Li in the footage below, but avoided jail time when the charges – and a $10.8 million lawsuit – were dropped.
Soon after, they moved together to LA.
Lara and Sam’s fight with pap
Aussie model Lara Bingle and boyfriend Sam Worthington appear to charge at lensman Sheng Li, 37, and attempt to grab his camera, according to footage released Tuesday by Li’s lawyer, Mark Jay Heller.
FROM 2014 TO NOW
The dramatic years of her early 20s well behind her, Worthington released a successful line of makeup called The Base, which has developed into skincare brand Share The Base – which sees 100 per cent of profits donated to three Australian charities including Bowel Cancer Australia, the disease which took her father.
Having moved far beyond the years of selling her own stories to the tabloids, she quietly married Worthington, with the decision to change her name on Instagram the only indication they had wed.
Fast-forward five years the notoriously private couple share two children – Rocket, four, and Racer, two.
Now, the couple are expecting their third son early next year.
“Yes, I’m pregnant,” the beaming mother told Vogue Australia this week. “I’m having a boy, early next year. It’s my third boy, and we’re all very happy. I think any addition brings joy and happiness to the family, but more so when you can share it with the other boys. It’s such a boys’ club in my house!”
So how did Lara Worthington make the seemingly impossible shift from Australia’s answer to Paris Hilton, to full-blown international glamazon?
Speaking to Stellar Magazine earlier this year, Worthington said her torrid past has taught her a valuable lesson.
“I’ve been through so many phases in my life and I’ve learnt that the people you surround yourself with are so important,” she said.
“Good people are my go-to. I’ve learnt that trusting people is imperative. I really value their opinions and take it all on board, and then develop my own thoughts and feelings.”
She said her move to the US is what helped her slide into a normal life – one her husband craved more than she did – but one she soon realised she needed.
“I don’t have to put on any facade with him, and moving to America has meant we’re able to live a really normal life. In fact, he’s more normal than me. He’s the guy from Perth who drinks milk before he goes to bed!” she told Stellar.
Lara Worthington is barely recognisable from the teen who stood on the beach in a bikini asking us where the hell we were all those years ago.
Now, she’s a mother, businesswoman, and undeniably chic style icon with a knack for nailing effortless glamour.
And it all began in Cronulla.