Jai reaches for the stars

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

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.’’

opens to­day.

Jai Court­ney (left) and di­rec­tor Christo­pher McQuar­rie on the set of

which also stars Tom Cruise.

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