FAMILY BOND A WINNER
Aussie brothers Nash and Joel Edgerton have united on another project, this time the older sibling directing the Hollywood star in Gringo
As a rule of thumb, younger brothers don’t like to be told what to do by their older siblings. Spare a thought then for Joel Edgerton, who voluntarily signed on the dotted line for a major part in the new black comedy Gringo, directed by his brother Nash, who is 18 months his senior.
“It’s weird,” says Joel, tongue firmly in cheek. “It’s kind of like if your parents at a very young age said, ‘actually we’re handing over duties to your brother to boss you around now’.”
He’s very much joking – if Joel and Nash didn’t truly love working together they would have stopped doing it a long time ago. Instead, the brothers are among the country’s most successful moviemaking exports of recent years.
Joel, 43, has the higher profile thanks to acclaimed roles in films such as Warrior, The Great Gatsby, the recent Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller Red Sparrow and last year’s civil rights drama Loving. He also starred in and directed the 2016 thriller The Gift, which made a very tidy $78 million from its $6.5 million budget.
Nash, 45, has taken a less visible route. He quit an electrical engineering degree to become a stuntman, working on blockbusters such as The Matrix trilogy, Superman Returns and Zero Dark Thirty (standing in for his brother) before moving into directing, first short films and then features.
But from their teenage days together playing make-believe around the back blocks of Dural, on Sydney’s fringe, the pair have very much been a team. Both are principal members of Blue Tongue Films, the production company behind the international hit Animal Kingdom that helped break Joel globally. It also made the brothers’ first feature film together with Joel as star and Nash as director, the 2008 Aussie film noir The Square.
Many times since, the brothers have worked – and occasionally lived together – on increasingly bigger projects, each serving as the other’s sounding board.
“I love working with Nash and we do it in various different capacities,” Joel says. “He helped me with a bunch of stuff on my film and I did the same for him.’’
Nash says that since the pair put aside their childhood squabbles, they have been fast friends. “We were both into movies and when I was about 10, Dad got a video camera and we started playing around with that,” Nash says. “We have always loved movies and watching movies and making movies.”
Their new joint project, Gringo, is their most ambitious yet. The jet-black comedy adventure, with shades of the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino, was filmed in Chicago and Mexico and attracted an international cast including David Oyelowo, Thandie Newton and Charlize Theron, the last of whom was a fan of Nash, ever since she saw his 2006 short film Spider.
Nash says he took great pleasure in casting his brother as corporate scumbag Richard, who sends Oyelowo’s character on a fool’s errand south of the border.
“My brother is one of the loveliest, most generous people I know, and encouraging him to play a douchebag was quite a joy,” Nash says with a laugh.
Joel has played nasty (the vengeful pharaoh in Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, and the crooked FBI agent opposite Johnny Depp in Black Mass) and nice (the dignified husband in Loving, and fearless soldier in Zero Dark Thirty), so was more than up for the challenge.
“It seems like I oscillate between playing nice people and jerks,” he says. “Richard is everything you love to hate about corporate America.”
The life of a successful filmmaker can be a nomadic one, and both have travelled the world in pursuit of their craft. Their ongoing bond is a comfort to their parents.
“It gives my folks a nice sense of enjoyment and safety knowing that Nash and I are away, but quite often we are away together,” Joel says.
Not to be outdone in the directing stakes, Joel has finally united Oscar-winning compatriots Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe for the drama Boy Erased, based on Garrett Connelly’s memoir about being sent to a religious sexual reorientation camp. The film is due for release this year. Gringo opens in cinemas today
Brothers Nash and Joel Edgerton at the US premiere of Gringo, a new dark comedy directed by Nash.