GQ (Australia) - - NEWS -

Not scared of the dark so much as scared of what’s in it. While he’s al­ready a master in sev­eral dis­ci­plines of the dark arts, Edger­ton’s frst ‘baby’ is about to be born, squint­ing and squirm­ing into the bright lights of life and, as both fa­ther and mother, he’s qui­etly shit­ting him­self. “Watch­ing a movie you’ve writ­ten or been be­hind the scenes of is like watch­ing a naked pic­ture of your­self pro­jected on a screen for an hour and a half,” he confdes to GQ. “As an ac­tor, you can hide be­hind the il­lu­sion you’re just one part of the ma­chine. But this time around there’s no run­ning away from the fact that this is my cre­ation and it’s got my sticky fnger­prints all over it. That’s ex­tremely nerve-wrack­ing in an un­pre­dictable in­dus­try like ours, but I’m qui­etly conf­dent.” Qui­etly conf­dent. That’s Edger­ton to a T. His rise has not been the rocket to the top that some ac­tors get. Nor has it been a stroll through a feld of dreams or stag­ger down a boule­vard of bro­ken prom­ises. Rather, it’s been a steady, clever and cal­cu­lated as­cent to the apex of his craft as an ac­tor and a writer and, now, with the re­lease of fea­ture The Gift, as a di­rec­tor. “I’m not on top of the moun­tain,” he says, smil­ing. “But I’ve climbed high enough to get a good view of the ac­tion.” Since ‘break­ing out’ in home-grown 2010 noir clas­sic An­i­mal King­dom, the 41-year-old has strung to­gether an en­vi­able list of star­ring roles in big pic­tures – War­rior and The Thing in 2011, Zero Dark Thirty in 2012, The Great Gatsby in 2013, and last year’s Ex­o­dus: Gods and Kings. Later this year he’ll go toe to toe with Johnny Depp in Black Mass and pop up in An­ton Cor­bijn’s biopic of James Dean, Life, writ­ten by Aus­tralian Luke Davies. There’s also been time to swap notes over lunch with Sean Penn and Ben Kings­ley and star in a mu­sic video for (and with) Bob Dy­lan. And yet fear gnaws at Edger­ton, a lit­tle like the dog at GQ’S LA photo shoot, which also hangs on to his ev­ery com­mand and drools only slightly less than the ac­tor’s grow­ing army of fe­male ad­mir­ers. But then, ac­tors are gen­er­ally in­se­cure species – like bugs, they need heat and light to emerge from their chrysalis. And yet what Edger­ton de­scribes to GQ is a form of terror only a bloke of gen­uine hu­mil­ity would con­jure and an artist of con­sid­er­able tal­ent could en­dure. So is it fear of fail­ure or fear of fear it­self? “Both,” he muses. “But I think fear is an im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent for tak­ing any job on a cre­ative level. It’s a feel­ing of, ‘I’ve never done this be­fore, I don’t know if I’ll do it well.’ But what will I re­gret more in the long run – do­ing it or not do­ing it? If the an­swer is the lat­ter, then I do it be­cause fear draws out in­cred­i­ble things. And so far, the scari­est roles have of­ten brought out my best.” It’s true. In the fesh, Edger­ton is knock­about nor­mal – his ’strayan ac­cent rolling in like a Ta­ma­rama tide, his body lan­guage emit­ted in the slumps, slouches and scratches of a fortysome­thing fella gas­bag­ging with a bunch of mates over a few schooners while watch­ing an Eels game on TV. On flm, though, he is much more. Mostly hand­some, with a pow­er­ful frame and dancer’s in­stinct for slow move­ment, he can still look dull, wom­bat-headed and seedy when nec­es­sary – nor­mal­ity his se­cret weapon – though he also car­ries strength along­side emo­tion. Edger­ton’s scari­est role came when step­ping into Mar­lon Brando’s scuffed boots and torn T-shirt for the Syd­ney Theatre Com­pany’s ac­claimed 2009 run of Ten­nessee Wil­liams’ A Street­car Named De­sire. “It ter­rifed the life out of me,” he says, winc­ing at the mem­ory. “Go­ing on stage in New York… stand­ing there op­po­site Cate Blanchett, con­fronting the con­tent of that play, deal­ing with all that very dark stuff in the fnal stages… oh, God.” Yet ev­ery one of these tremors paled be­fore di­rect­ing a flm he’d also writ­ten and taken a star­ring role in, de­spite pre­vi­ously di­rect­ing (short flms The List and Mon­keys) and hav­ing writ­ten or co-au­thored fea­ture flm scripts ( The Square, Felony and The Rover). “If I’m hon­est, I re­sisted it for a long time out of pure fear of the un­known. I danced around di­rect­ing like it was a cold swimming pool and I needed to sum­mon the courage to dive in. You’d think di­rect­ing would’ve been de­mys­tifed for me af­ter so much time on flm sets. In­stead, I was con­sumed with neg­a­tive thoughts: ‘What if I make bad calls? What if I’m no good at this and make shit de­ci­sions un­der pres­sure? What if I’m ac­tu­ally ter­ri­ble at work­ing with ac­tors?’ “All this stuff held me back. I’d get close to mak­ing a movie then go and run off and hide in some­one else’s. Even­tu­ally I just sucked it up, took a deep breath and dived in. And like a swimming pool, it was

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