In the brother­hood

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Pay-tv - ERIN McWHIRTER

IT’S lit­tle won­der Ja­son Clarke feels blessed. Many Aussies make the trek to Hol­ly­wood in search of fame and artis­tic ful­fil­ment, only to re­turn home with the tails be­tween their legs.

Clarke (pic­tured), how­ever, is one of the lucky few who’ve made a quick im­pact on US pro­duc­ers and cast­ing direc­tors.

Af­ter beginning his show­biz ca­reer with guest roles in lo­cal shows in­clud­ing Blue Heel­ers, Home and Away and Stingers, and work­ing on the Phillip Noyce-di­rected Rab­bit­Proof Fence, Clarke headed to Los An­ge­les.

It’s a gam­ble that has paid off — with in­ter­est.

Clarke has chalked up his first ma­jor movie role, as the lead in The Hu­man Con­tract (the di­rec­to­rial de­but of Jada Pin­kett Smith), and made a big im­pres­sion along­side Johnny Depp and Chris­tian Bale in Michael Mann’s crime drama Pub­lic En­e­mies.

‘‘It’s hard be­cause you pack ev­ery­thing up and you com­pletely start again in a new coun­try,’’ Clarke says.

‘‘It was a big risk in terms of, ‘If it doesn’t hap­pen I guess I go home’, but then at the same time I al­ways looked at it as a nec­es­sary step if you want to be an ac­tor.’’

He is talk­ing while re­lax­ing on a rooftop in Rhode Is­land. It’s af­ter a day on set of the US drama se­ries Brother­hood.

‘‘It’s too dif­fi­cult to make a liv­ing as an ac­tor in Aus­tralia alone,’’ Clarke says.

Clarke misses his fam­ily and many as­pects of the Aus­tralian life­style and cul­ture. He’s also tired from long days on the set of Brother­hood, in which he plays Tommy Caf­fee.

But don’t think he’d have it any other way.

‘‘It has been a huge year. I have had a cou­ple of jobs that have been re­ally hard in terms of big moves and shoot­ing in win­ter in some re­ally re­mote lo­ca­tions. I do want to have hol­i­days and see my fam­ily and friends be­cause I haven’t been home in 16 months, but I can’t com­plain about the roles that have come my way.’’

In Brother­hood, Clarke’s char­ac­ter is an am­bi­tious, ide­al­is­tic leg­is­la­tor in Prov­i­dence, Rhode Is­land.

The first se­ries of Brother­hood fol­lowed Caf­fee, a ris­ing star in lo­cal pol­i­tics whose ca­reer was threat­ened by the ac­tiv­i­ties of his vi­cious crim­i­nal brother Michael (Ja­son Isaacs).

It’s much of the same sec­ond time around for Clarke, who is now in a comfortable groove in the con­fronting drama se­ries.

‘‘It isn’t that Tommy is a good or a bad char­ac­ter. He is a lot of both and it was there on the page the first time around and you just go, ‘F ... yeah, I am go­ing to do this’,’’ Clarke says of Brother­hood.

‘‘Each day is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent emo­tional jour­ney for four months of the year and that’s ex­cit­ing to play.’’

It was thanks to his grip­ping por­trayal of Caf­fee that Pin­kett Smith chose him for the lead role in The Hu­man Con­tract.

As for work­ing with Depp, Bale and Academy Award win­ner Mar­ion Cotil­lard in Pub­lic En­e­mies, Clarke says: ‘‘It’s an in­sane cast. It’s the story of John Dillinger (Depp) and gang­sters in the 1930s and I play Dillinger’s right-hand man, his best buddy. I am feel­ing good about ev­ery­thing at the mo­ment.’’

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