Ahead of the release of their new film ‘Felony’ (read our review here) http://vulturehound.co.uk/2014/09/felony-review/, actors Joel Edgerton and Jai Courtney sat down to discuss their roles in the film.
Q: This is the first time you have worked together; how did you both first meet?
Edgerton: “I met Joel on Skype. He was in the middle of shooting ‘Die Hard’ in Bulgaria or wherever he was and he came across our radar and talked to us about getting involved. He was perfect for the role, but I wasn’t aware of him yet. I’d heard about him being out and about doing good things.”
Courtney: “Joel’s a lovely guy and we didn’t know each other before going to work together, but I’ve always had an enormous amount of respect for him as an actor. Moving into these other creative forays it’s great to see him blossoming. I was very excited at the possibility of working with him just based on the script I read that he’d written. Through the film itself we didn’t have a lot to do with each other, so there wasn’t a ton. We just got on like a house on fire and we’ve become good mates since. We hope to do something together again soon.”
Q: Joel how did you prepare for the role of Malcolm Toohey?
Edgerton: “I spent a fair amount of time with certain detectives in the area of Sydney where I’d set the movie, and we talked about the old guard vs. the new guard, these younger detectives coming up more through the collegiate ranks who are really sticking to the rulebook. The older guys had matured into what they called more ‘flexible policing’ or ‘fluid policing.’ Creative policing. Not about corruption, but getting the job done in a way that sometimes the rules don’t allow you to. The end justifies the means.
Tom’s character definitely has a bit of creative policing, striving for a virtuous result. Jai represents that really young machine, so our relationship is almost prickly, like we were never built to be friends. Cut to three or so days or weeks or months after this film ends there’s potential that the relationship has shifted.”
Q: Jai, you’re used to more physical roles in action flicks like Divergent and the upcoming Terminator Genesis, how different was it for you starring in a tense psychological thriller like Felony?
“It was refreshing. When you get a script that’s this well written the clues are all there, you have this wonderful blueprint. You pull it off the page and wonder what you’re going to do with that. Sometimes it’s about, ‘What if this changed and we introduced that? We gave him a son…’ Sometimes there’s room for that, but with the script Joel constructed it was attractive to me to go in and play this semi-naïve young cop who has a real clear sense of right and wrong. It’s kind of an idealistic approach. He has a very clear moral compass where if you’ve done something wrong you must suffer the consequences of it.
I used to joke with Matthew Saville, our director, about how many thousands of yards that I had to stare in this movie because it feels like that’s all I do. Looking at Joel being suspicious. It was funny! It felt like there was a lot of that. Obviously when it comes together as a film it’s about a lot more. It was great to play something that was a lot more internalized. The fleshing out of his character wasn’t hanging on witty quips or lines thrown in amongst action pieces. If I get to do stunts and drive cars and crash things and shoot things in other movies people assume that’s the most fun stuff, and it can be. It’s good to hang around with those toys and do that, but for me as an actor that’s not where I’m most fulfilled, it’s when you can really explore the drama of something.”
Q: Felony deals in many ways with the notion of guilt and how certain individuals deal with it. What is your personal take on the nature of guilt?
Edgerton – “I really believe guilt finds its way out of a person. Tom’s character kind of nails it when he says, ‘Prison is for pricks who don’t have their punishment here [points to head].’ Where does guilt and punishment lie, and are we not more expressive over remorse or guilt when other people see the badness in us? When people become aware of our guilt we then have to show them that we have contrition and repentance because someone else knows I’ve done a bad thing, whereas if a tree falls in the woods and no one’s there to hear it do you just let time and the world swallow up evidence?”
Q: Joel, some people may feel that you are suddenly exploding onto the scene but you have in fact been in the industry for 20 years now…
Edgerton – “It’s been kind of a slow stepping stone thing for me over the years, which has been great. ‘Gatsby’ was a big thing for me, but I was just one of the components of that machine. Doing Ridley’s movie [Exodus: Gods and Kings] was like another step up altogether, and going toe-to-toe with one of my favorite actors under the guidance of a director I’ve been gagging to work with for f*cking years. Made it all the more great when ten years ago he made ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ and I was in ‘King Arthur’ over in Ireland, and I sent him an audition tape. I remember hearing a rumor that there was a photo of me on his wall in the production office that he was maybe thinking of putting me in the mix somewhere. There was a feeling at the time that I came close to working with the guy, so to have him call me up ten years later and ask me to take a major part in his movie was really awesome.
I’d be lying to say that I haven’t cast myself in that [movie star] role through my life, as in would I ever get to the top of those lists or however you want to express it. I always wanted the challenges of it. I’m 40 years old now and I’ve watched a lot of people I’ve known, acquaintances and even close friends become really famous and see their lives effected or shut down by it. People react in different ways. I’ve also, thorough my twenty years as an actor, seen the massive growth of the internet and chatter of the TMZ generation, and its become a field of landmines. One wrong move and you destroy your career. The work’s great, so it is kind of like doing a deal with the devil but you pay for all the benefits. Life is exciting.”
‘Felony’ (cert. 15) is released on Monday 27th October On Demand courtesy of Solo Media Films