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Joel Edgerton Talks Original Tora Bora Beginnings Of 'Kill Bin Laden'; Gets Ready For 'Great Gatsby'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist August 20, 2011 at 8:13AM

It has been a pretty remarkable past couple of years for Australian actor Joel Edgerton. While he made his first tentative steps in Hollywood with a role in a couple of the "Star Wars" prequels, "King Arthur" and "Smokin' Aces," it would be the movies he made as part of his Blue-Tongue Films collective that would raise his profile. "The Square" and "Animal Kingdom" were both breakout films and since then, Edgerton has never been busier. He's got a wide variety of roles on his plate with the horror remake "The Thing," the fantasy "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" and the MMA drama "Warrior" all set to hit theaters, with roles in Kathryn Bigelow's Mark Boal-scribed untitled black-ops thriller (aka "Kill Bin Laden") and Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" in the works. In short, the actor is on the cusp of becoming a household name and a familiar face.
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It has been a pretty remarkable past couple of years for Australian actor Joel Edgerton. While he made his first tentative steps in Hollywood with a role in a couple of the "Star Wars" prequels, "King Arthur" and "Smokin' Aces," it would be the movies he made as part of his Blue-Tongue Films collective that would raise his profile. "The Square" and "Animal Kingdom" were both breakout films and since then, Edgerton has never been busier. He's got a wide variety of roles on his plate with the horror remake "The Thing," the fantasy "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" and the MMA drama "Warrior" all set to hit theaters, with roles in Kathryn Bigelow's Mark Boal-scribed untitled black-ops thriller (aka "Kill Bin Laden") and Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" in the works. In short, the actor is on the cusp of becoming a household name and a familiar face.

With "Warrior" getting into the ring next month, Joel Edgerton is out stumping for the film and our own Leah Zak recently had a chance to talk with him. While we'll have his thoughts on the inspirational pugilist pic shortly, she asked the actor about the two films he's gearing up to make, and he revealed the original scope of Bigelow's film before the death of Osama Bin Laden changed everything and how Luhrmann is more like a composer than a director when it comes to "The Great Gatsby."

Try as they might, "The Hurt Locker" pair of Bigelow/Boal weren't able to keep a lid on the premise of their upcoming film, even though back in January they officially denied it was about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. But according to Joel Edgerton, who is mooted to take the lead role in the film, the project was initially conceived as the post 9/11 hunt for the famed terrorist leader.

"I had signed on to the do the project when the initial script was almost done. I knew what it was about and then Bin Laden was killed and then the whole thing was kind of like a house of cards, it had to be kind of knocked over and rebuilt," Edgerton explained. "The attempt to kill Bin laden in the Tora Bora mountains in 2001 was no longer as relevant a story as what had just happened, but then what had just happened was so fresh and as we all know, history often needs time and perspective to kind of settle in everybody’s minds, you can’t just go and start shooting the movie in the next month and assume that you’re going to get everything right and have all of the information. So the project was put on hold for a while while Mark and Kathryn kind of gathered information..."

Since then, the deep information gathering has raised the eyebrows of folks in Washington, with some accusing the Obama administration of handing over classified reports in some kind of attempt to paint a pro-Democrat picture of the incident. But Boal is a longtime investigative reporter and the filmmaking duo have revealed the vision of the project will run through a number of presidents who had a hand in the build up to the events of this summer. “Our upcoming film project about the decade long pursuit of Bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency,” they said in a statement.

Regardless of politics, the film will certainly be one of the most scrutinized and anticipated films in quite some time, and a potential awards season horse, with an October 12, 2012 date already slated. But before Edgerton gets to that, he's boarding a plane in just a couple of days to head back to his native land to shoot a new adaptation of the a great American classic. With Leonardo DiCaprio as the wealthy and mysterious Jay Gatsby; Carey Mulligan as Gatsby’s love, Daisy Buchanan; Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway; Jason Clarke as George Miller; and Isla Fisher as Myrtle, a married woman having an affair with Joel Edgerton's Tom Buchanan, Baz Luhrmann's take on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel will be the most sizzling yet. And while some may wonder about an Aussie director taking a distinctly American, jazz-age story and filming it out of the country, don't tell that to Edgerton, who believes he's perfectly suited for the film.

“He’s like P.T. Barnum [laughs]. Baz Luhrmann is the right man for this job, he’s got a visual poetry to way he makes movies, I think he’s akin...to the descriptive language that Fitzgerald had in the book. I think that is so much a part of the success of that book, the characters are great and the story is great but the description language, the way he put it into words is what made that book keen," said Edgerton. "There needs to be a maestro at the helm that’s going to turn that into a thing that matches the book.”

From a torrid period drama to the rugged terrain of Afghanistan and Pakistan, it will be fascinating to see Edgerton continue to stretch his on-screen presence into new and exciting territory. You can see him next in "Warrior" which opens on September 9th.

This article is related to: Films, Actors, The Great Gatsby, Kill Bin Laden, Joel Edgerton


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