Jai Court­ney

JAI COURT­NEY Think big, work hard and don’t sweat the small stuff – a sim­ple ethos cen­tral to the three-year quick­step that’s pro­pelled this laid-back and oh-so-lik­able Syd­ney lad to be­come an in-de­mand Hol­ly­wood lead­ing man.

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No one’s had a cra­zier year than Jai. At the end of 2014 he was front and cen­tre in both An­gelina’s Un­bro­ken and Rusty’s The Wa­ter Diviner, be­fore kick­ing more fu­tur­is­tic arse in the Di­ver­gent se­ries, In­sur­gent. He also brought Arnie back to life in Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys, en­joyed a bro­mance with Shia Labeouf in Man Down and just wrapped what’s al­ready pegged to be the big­gest re­lease of 2016 – David Ayer’s Sui­cide Squad. Ea­ger to trou­ble the 29-year-old from Cherrybrook, NSW for his two pen­nies’ worth on what’s been a bonkers 12 months, we caught up with Court­ney in Brus­sels, where he’s fin­ish­ing up WWII drama The Kaiser’s Last Kiss. Over a bot­tle of chardon­nay, we chat the Rugby World Cup, his want for a sum­mer of fun with fam­ily and friends, and what life’s re­ally like for the industry’s most ac­ces­si­ble ac­tor.

On Act­ing

“For me, it stems from play­ing dress ups as a kid, and that’s still the way I look at it. But some­times I clock my­self on a set, go­ing, ‘What the fuck do I do for a liv­ing, this is ab­so­lutely bizarre.’ Your work is im­por­tant and cer­tain con­di­tions are im­per­a­tive to lend them­selves to a pos­i­tively cre­ative at­mos­phere. And I’m lucky to be able to do what I love for a liv­ing and thank my­self ev­ery day I’m on set.”

On Watch­ing his movies

“If you make some fuck­ing pot­tery and put it in a kiln, you ob­vi­ously want to see it when it comes out. Films are the same – once you’ve fnished a project, you’re away from it for a year so I’m al­ways ex­cited to see some­thing roll out. I fnd look­ing at stuff while we’re work­ing a lit­tle detri­men­tal so I of­ten haven’t seen a frame of footage un­til the trailer.”

On Rus­sell Crowe

“He’s a fan­tas­tic sto­ry­teller and I’ve al­ways been a fan of his. The Wa­ter Diviner was about an im­por­tant part of Aus­tralian his­tory and the Ot­toman Em­pire, and the an­gle he took was re­ally in­trigu­ing. It wasn’t just about the story of the sol­diers, he ex­plored the atroc­i­ties that hap­pened and im­pact of war in a part of the world where it dam­aged, un­justly, so many peo­ple. I found it very mov­ing.”

On Celebrity

“I’m still sit­ting in this sweet spot where work doesn’t in­fringe on my per­sonal life too much, but lead­ing a pri­vate life gets harder as your ex­po­sure gets wider. We jest about the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, but re­ally it’s the ev­ery­day shit – you know, it’s sad that some­one get­ting a cof­fee from a store is now news. What I’m chas­ing isn’t about celebrity, it’s about climb­ing within an industry I’m pas­sion­ate about.”

On be­ing a gent

“To me it’s sim­ple. I was raised well and I have a pretty good idea about who I am as a per­son and where my morals stand. And I can’t fathom how any­one would think it strate­gi­cally bene­f­cial to act like a fuck­wit. I don’t know any good bloke who makes a de­ci­sion to be a prick in the flm world just to at­tract at­ten­tion. There’s defnitely some­thing to be said for stand­ing your ground when it comes to cer­tain things – like any busi­ness, if you’re some­one who’ll take shit from any­body and al­ways smiles and never lets it bother you, you can ex­pect to be walked over for a long time.”

On Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys

“I wasn’t naïve to the fact that tap­ping back into a fran­chise that had done so well early on, and which had fallen off a bit, was a risk. But read­ing the script was the in­jec­tion of en­thu­si­asm I needed – I saw what they wanted to do and I guess I had a ca­sual in­vest­ment from a fans per­spec­tive. It wasn’t about just snap­ping an­other flm for the sake of it, there was a lot of cre­ativ­ity and en­ergy and time and money poured into breath­ing new life into it. I hope there’s a fu­ture with it.”

On Arnie

“He was some­what a hero of mine when I was grow­ing up. I was a mas­sive fan of T2, True Lies, and, strangely, Kinder­garten Cop. He’s a leg­end, has been part of so many clas­sic flms and is re­spon­si­ble for some of the most recog­nised lines in cin­e­matic his­tory.”

On Comic Book films

“I was on a road trip to New Or­leans with Shia Labeouf and he was telling me that David Ayer was do­ing this project [ Sui­cide Squad] and I said, ‘Mate I’d never do a comic book movie. It’s so sat­u­rated, there’s so many, I don’t go and see them’ – all this kind of cocky, non­sen­si­cal bull­shit. Then, two weeks later David called me up and I was like, ‘Any­thing you want.’ I was such a fan and it’s turned out to be the best ac­ci­dent that’s hap­pened in my short ca­reer. The comic book genre isn’t go­ing any­where, stu­dios have a lot of prop­erty that they in­tend to cover over the next few years. What’s vi­tal is that we keep peo­ple go­ing to the cin­ema and th­ese sorts of movies do that and gen­er­ate big box-of­fce fgures.”

On Cara Delev­ingne

“I tell you, she’s not play­ing a char­ac­ter for Sui­cide Squad [laughs]. She’s a gor­geous girl, very ta­lented and ab­so­lutely bat-shit crazy. I love her.”

On Turn­ing 30

“You move into rom­coms – isn’t that what hap­pens now? I’ve al­ways thought I have it in me to do a bit of a Matthew Mcconaughey. I haven’t read any de­cent rom­com scripts as of yet, but any­thing’s pos­si­ble.” n

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