Jai Courtney on Shakespeare – and getting Russell Crowe’s approval.
``AUSSIES HAVE A SPECIFIC WORK ETHIC AND SENSE OF HUMOUR´´
“Working with someone like Russell Crowe, you’ve got to be on your toes”
You grew up in Australian suburbia [Cherrybrook in Sydney’s north-west]. What’s it like to be back after spending so much time in LA? It’s great, but it’s weird these days because nobody else is on holiday. Everyone else is nine-to-fiveing so there’s always that sweet period of a week or two, but any longer than that and I often need to have some purpose to be here. It’s a strange space because I don’t live here anymore, but it is still home. Sometimes it is a bit of an arm wrestle but I think, certainly on a spiritual level, it’s where I’m most comfortable in the world. You’re here with Longines where the motto is “elegance is an attitude”. On a scale of one to 10, how elegant are you? I do my best. I reckon I give myself like a… 7.5. I know how to behave when it’s required of me. When you first met Russell Crowe a few years ago, he told you that you’d been doing some terrible movies. If he saw your résumé now would it be up to his standards? [Laughs.] He didn’t say terrible, but he did take the piss out of me a little bit. He was poking fun and trying to get a rise out of me to see what I was made of, and working with someone like Russell, you’ve got to be on your toes. That was probably, in a strange way, my first audition with him. If that conversation had gone down really awkwardly, I’m not sure he would’ve wanted to work with me. So we had a laugh and a drink, and before long we were getting ready to do a movie [ The Water Diviner] together. That was a dream come true for me. You’re about to play Macbeth with the Melbourne Theatre Company. How do you feel about taking on one of Shakespeare’s greatest works? I can’t wait. I think Macbeth is really the role of a lifetime. I would feel nervous taking on any of his works and it’s been a few years since I was onstage, so it’ll be interesting to flex that muscle again. I’ve just got to blow the cobwebs out in order to find that love for it again, but I’m not trepidatious. I’m excited more than anything. After finishing high school, you worked in factories for a few months. Did you ever doubt making that leap from the factory floor to the stage? That’s what got me out of there. I was praying that something like this would come along to drag me away. Look, having a nine-to-five job, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I knew that I had something to give and I needed an avenue through which to explore that. And I really wasn’t cut out for factory work [laughs]. You went public with your relationship to girlfriend, PR professional Mecki Dent, last year. What has it been like to have a relationship in the spotlight for the first time? It’s OK. It’s something I’m proud of. It’d suck to try to hide
something like that, you know, I’m in love with someone, so part of being real is accepting that will introduce influences upon your personal life which can be confusing at times. It’s not easy to subject someone to the pressures of the industry that I’m in, and it doesn’t always feel fair, but I’m lucky to have a really supportive partner and someone who also challenges me. It’s not just about what I’m doing in this world; we have a really balanced relationship. It can be difficult, but we’re in this together. You became friends with Margot Robbie while filming Suicide Squad. Do Aussies have to stick together in Hollywood? They don’t have to, but we tend to a little. It’s funny because there’s this assumption that we’re all glued at the hip and I don’t think it’s like that. But sometimes the simplest things are enough to keep you close with people, and Aussies have a specific kind of work ethic, sense of humour and a way we carry ourselves that lends itself to having a good time with what we’re doing. So, do you all get together and whinge about Trump? Totally. We’re all just like, “Ah well, he’s not ours.” We can all go home at the end of the day. Would you ever move back to Australia? For sure. I’d love, when the time comes, to raise a family here. I think Australia is still the greatest country in the world. Who knows what sort of transient lifestyle I’ll have, but when I have kids I’d love them to call this home, as well.
Jai was the special guest at the 2017 Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day. Macbeth opens on June 5; mtc.com.au.