The Verge: Nash and Joel Edgerton


Watch out, Chris and Liam Hemsworth: there's another pair of Australian brothers on the rise. Nash and Joel Edgerton have a long background in entertainment -- 35-year-old Joel acted in the Star Wars prequels as Owen Lars and starred in the recent Sundance hit Animal Kingdom, while 37-year-old Nash has done stunt work for some of the biggest blockbusters ever made -- but with their new film The Square, they're poised to break out Stateside. Nash directed the neo-noir, which finds a hapless adulterer scheming with an arsonist (played by Joel, who also wrote the screenplay) to pull off a con on his mistress's husband. This being a crime drama, things do not go as planned.

The brothers rang up Movieline today to discuss their collaboration, and they also dished on a ton of upcoming projects they're involved with, including Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, the Nick Nolte/Tom Hardy fighting drama Warrior, and Universal's upcoming prequel to The Thing.

I've seen The Square described as not just as a film noir, but also as a dark comedy, because things keep getting so bad for our protagonists that you can't help but laugh. Is that a read of the film that you're OK with?

NASH EDGERTON: Yeah, definitely. Everyone has their own threshold for what they find funny and what they find shocking. Some will find it a little bit of both.

JOEL EDGERTON: Nash and I have always seen the film as dark-humored. In fact, during pre-production, we actually took a few [comedic] elements out just to balance it. We wanted the film to be a tense, dreadful experience in a way, and we felt like if we put in too many things that were goofy or broad, we'd lose that authenticity.

It's funny, because I just saw Animal Kingdom and it strikes that same balance between brutality and dark humor. Is it just something about the way Australians tackle noir?

JOEL EDGERTON: [Laughs] That's definitely true, some of the dialogue and situations in Animal Kingdom are similar to The Square. I think [Animal Kingdom director] David Michod and Nash are all good friends, so there's a similar aesthetic and crossover there. Sometimes the best way to get a shock out of an audience is to let them laugh. Playing the different sides of a situation can help a story, I think.

Nash, you had to convince Joel to finish writing the film when he lost faith in himself as a writer. What was the challenge there?

NASH EDGERTON: We started writing something together and he had no concept on how to write a film. He'd seen movies and tried, but it just wasn't that easy. As a director, I'm very instinctual; if I can see it when I'm reading it, I know I'll know how to shoot it. It was the same thing with The Square. When he gave it to me to read, it was such a page-turner and I utterly enjoyed it, and there were scenes in it I totally knew how to shoot, and then there were other ones where my mind would go blank, and those were the ones I shaped with him. If I can't visualize it, for me, there's something that doesn't work in it.

You'd shelved the story for a while before dusting it off again. What made you revive it?

JOEL EDGERTON: Two Hands had come out in Australia with Heath [Ledger] and Rose Byrne in it, and there was a spate of films that tried to piggyback on the success of that, some similar movies. We just thought, "Do we really want to run with the herd or do we want to swim off in our own direction? With The Square, we can really do our own unique thing." Thankfully, Nash read the script and really loved it and wanted to do it.


Is your dynamic as brothers similar to your dynamic on the set?

JOEL EDGERTON: It's a pretty easy kind of dynamic. We're really good mates. We're friends and we live together and we're Australian. It's a really easy relationship and we can be blunt with each other without holding grudges. The older we get, the more mature we get. [Laughs]

NASH EDGERTON: We have a shorthand with each other. We have the same sensibility, and we're going after the same result. It works. For some reason, it just works.

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  • bierce says:

    I predict great things for them in Hollywood, based only on the fact that they are non-American actors.