In the brotherhood
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.’’