Jai reaches for the stars
HEN Jack Reacher writer/director Christopher McQuarrie saw Aussie Jai Courtney’s audition tape, he did one thing – emailed it to producer and star Tom Cruise. Five minutes later, he got a reply. McQuarrie says it read: ‘‘cast him’’. ‘‘There was no discussion about it. We never talked about it. We just, we hired Jai on the spot,’’ he says.
For Courtney, getting the villainous role of Charlie in Jack Reacher was something of a break into Hollywood.
‘‘It was certainly a welcome gig to get after a couple of years of not working – and a fantastic project,’’ says Courtney, who last appeared in TV series Spartacus.
Since being cast in Jack Reacher, the thriller based on Lee Child’s books, Courtney has gone on to act opposite Bruce Willis, playing his son in A Good Day to Die Hard, with Aaron Eckhart in I, Frankenstein and appeared in the Aussie film Felony.
With all these films slated for release this year, or beyond, you sense it must feel like the calm before the storm.
‘‘It’s an interesting place to be in. To have kind of a few things in the can and nothing’s released yet, but it’s been great,’’ Courtney says.
‘‘I’ve had some incredible experiences in the last year or so and am just embracing that.’’
He says he’s not really thinking about whether or not he will lose his anonymity, admitting he’s a little naive about it and will just see how he handles it when or if it happens.
Meanwhile, McQuarrie says he couldn’t be happier that Courtney, who he describes as a genuinely good soul, has gone on to such success.
‘‘You work with somebody very closely and somebody that you feel some sense of having a part in discovering that person and then to have other people step up and validate what you saw is great,’’ he says. ‘‘I’m just thrilled for Jai.’’ Courtney says he was initially drawn to Jack Reacher by McQuarrie’s script.
Jack Reacher marks McQuarrie’s second outing as a director. A seasoned screenwriter, he won an Oscar for penning 1995 film The Usual Suspects.
Great script aside, scoring the role of Charlie also marked a first for Courtney.
‘‘This was kind of the first villain I had played,’’ he says, adding it was fun adding dimensions to a someone you could easily just label as a cold baddie.
‘‘Of course there’s (also) the whole boys with their toys thing. I get to shoot guns and drive cars,’’ he says.
To prepare for some of the film’s stunts, Courtney needed to train with weapons, particularly sniper rifles, and learnt choreographed fights.
He says the first time he met Cruise was actually when the Hollywood star dropped by during a fight rehearsal and said ‘‘welcome to America’’.
‘‘I was like sweaty and in my trackpants and he kind of rolled in and yeah, you have one of those moments where it was like (looking starstruck), ‘hey, how you doing, man’,’’ he says.
‘‘But soon after that you find yourself in a meeting and you’re discussing the role . . . and it’s just a colleague.’’
Jai Courtney (left) and director Christopher McQuarrie on the set of
which also stars Tom Cruise.