Singleton Joel Edgerton has his sibling Nash for company on the set of their big-screen hit Gringo.
Local hero Joel Edgerton has his sibling Nash along for the ride on the set of Gringo.
“We’re very different people... We’re yin and yang!”
Drugs. Money. Laughter. The secret to Gringo’s big-screen success isn’t the marijuana pill at the score of the story, it’s the therapeutic power of brotherhood! Yes, the Edgerton brothers are medicine for the soul. OK, maybe not – but Hollywood is ( nally) taking notice of the literal bromance that is Joel and Nash.
Both Aussie exports have taken their turn behind the camera. Nash made his directorial feature debut with The Square a decade ago, before Joel followed suit with 2015’s The Gift. Gringo is Nash’s second time at the helm of a movie, with Joel enjoying the limelight back in front of the camera, opposite Charlize Theron and David Oyelowo.
“I love working with Nash,” says younger bro Joel. “We will always be close. I can’t imagine a situation that would pull Nash and I apart as friends.”
Not that these two Sydney boys from Down Under have always been buddy-buddy. “Our childhood consisted of a constant strain of punching each other and then being friends in between,” Joel recalls with a loving smile at the Claridge’s Hotel in London. “We were too close in age, I think, for us to not get into the punchy part of being brothers. But we somehow managed to never get competitive in a negative fashion with each other. And Nash has been an incredibly supportive person.
“I enjoy his company. I think we enjoy each other’s company.
“We are very different people. We are very different people. Nash is supremely organized, and he’s got a really good kind of ethic just in terms of keeping on top of things. Filmmakers like Spielberg or J.J. Abrams, I suspect, have got producers and directors brains. That means they are able to be right and left brain, and they can be organised and spin off into their creativity at the same time. And Nash is one of those guys. He is a producer and a director in nice, equal measures.
“I’m completely disorganised. We’re very yin and yang!”
Joel took a different path to the screen bypassing the traditional route of homegrown soaps, getting his big international break as Luke Skywalker’s future uncle Owen
Lars in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge
of the Sith. Nash kicked off his career as a stuntman in blockbusters such as The Matrix trilogy and Superman Returns – and even doubled for his younger brother’s stunts in the critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty.
Joel has plenty to say and show for himself. He’s charming, irty and quite like a teddy bear, especially when rocking a beard. And while sibling rivalry does not exist in the Edgerton clan, there’s one thing Joel covets. “I now have a new interest in him and an envy and a healthy jealousy because he’s got a family,” the handsome single sighs, referring to Nash’s fairytale that includes wife Carla Ruffino and daughter Zumi.
“I love watching him be a dad. When I Skype with him, his twoyear-old is jumping all over him, saying swear words and stuff.”
While the successful actor is still awaiting his own marital bliss, he practises being a family man by playing Uncle Joel. “They call me Uncle Bro,” Joel reveals, “because Nash calls me ‘bro’, so somehow my nice Chika (Carla’s daughter from a previous relationship) just started calling me Uncle Bro.”
Not that there isn’t a lot of love for sweet Joel, who calls himself a “sucker” – possibly for love, but de nitely for pain. “I had a very good upbringing, so the rst thing I do is assume that everybody is telling the truth,” he admits about his tough run with the fairer sex.
“I guess you could call me gullible sometimes. And this is the weird thing: in a boyfriend/ girlfriend or marital or sexual relationship, people give each other second and third chances. Sometimes in the right way, but other times they get suckered, right? If someone stole money from you, would you go into business with them a second time? No, thankyou! But, for some reason, with some relationships in the past, I’ve gone: ‘Oh, yeah, you hurt me really bad, now let’s keep trying this out and see what happens.’ That’s not to say that I’m always the best person in the world, but I am a bit of a sucker!”
Of course, it doesn’t help to be shy when on the quest to nd one’s true love. “I need to be introduced to people,” Joel confesses. “I’m not the guy that sort of sees a girl across the room and just goes, ‘Hold my drink. I’ll be back’. I can’t; I would’ve found an interest in the replace and circled back without completing my mission! There’s a scene in
Gringo where Charlize is doing a fake seduction with Alan Ruck and talking about why the moon landing went the way it did. That’s me when a woman goes, ‘Hey Joel, what about it?’ I try and keep my cool, may even do a good job, but internally I fall to pieces.”
Besides, Joel is currently focusing on another passion: his second stint as a director. “Acting is a great freedom. As an actor I can turn up to set wearing my pyjamas if I want. Actors are grown-up children. We get to play dress-up, we don’t really have responsibility except for our characters. But directors have to be adults. I loved that experience. I loved having the control of the whole story, puppeteering the whole thing,” he says. After the marijuana pill escapades of Gringo, his next baby is called
Boy Erased, out later this year, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and him.
“I encourage anybody interested to read a book or have a look at the 20/20 exposé about gay conversion therapy in the South in America,” he says, with a sparkle and some fury in his eyes. “I based my lm on Garrard Conley’s book and story. The Bible says, or in the Baptist faith anyway, that homosexuality is a sin. And post-1973, when the American Psychiatric Society had declared homosexuality no longer a mental illness, the church needed their avenue to solve that ‘problem’. And, yes, it was a monetised thing, but there was also a true belief that they were to help young boys and girls get back to faith, get back to God, to be able to live in their community. But these institutions felt like prisons, and the locks were the belief, they weren’t always necessarily barbed wires and bars. What I found so fascinating is that it felt like I was reading a kind of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest story where the wardens were more messed up than the inmates. On the other hand, his story managed to be one that opened the space up for incredibly redemptive conversation about the misjudgment in the treatment of LGBTQ kids and the question, whether they were broken or not.
“I think it’s a good conversation starter to something that I felt very rmly – even as a straight guy growing up in Australia – because when I read it I went, ‘This really needs to stop!’”