Dave Flannery seems to have it all, with a beautiful wife, two young kids, a home with a great view and a business that has managed to ride out the economic crisis. But Dave is also a man desperately trying to keep those very things from slipping away. Recently hitting Cambodia for some R&R with his wife, his wife’s sister and her boyfriend, the four of them went, but only three came back. For now, the authorities are being kept in the dark as Dave and everyone else hopes the missing man will return, but it isn’t long before dark secrets surface, altering everything they thought they knew about that wild night in Cambodia…
The cheekily titled “Wish You Were Here” stars Joel Edgerton as Dave, with Felicity Jones and Teresa Palmer (who we also talked to; read here) as the wife and sister respectively, in a lean little thriller directed by Aussie filmmaking and Blue Tongue Films member Kieran Darcy-Smith that uses a fractured narrative to keep the audiences guessing, as the mystery behind the disappearance unravels. It’s a genre picture that’s also a character driven piece as well, with everyone involved carrying their own responsibilities and burdens, that get continually heavier as each twist of the story gets revealed.
We caught up with Joel Edgerton on the phone earlier this week, and he shared with us his experience making “Wish You Were Here,” staying on board Kathryn Bigelow‘s “Zero Dark Thirty” from before Osama Bin Laden was killed to after, the rumors surrounding “Jane Got A Gun” and whether or not he’ll return to the “Star Wars” franchise.
Joel Edgerton was intrigued to play a character who didn’t always tell the truth
“I’m kind of attracted to lie onscreen, to fall, and…Dave is someone who — without giving any spoilers away — Dave is someone who has more information than everybody else in this tragic situation. He may have been culpable at something or he may be witness something or he may just be hiding God knows what, but whatever that secret he holds is, it’s doing his head in,” he explained. “It’s like causing him huge amounts of turmoil and Kieran and I wanted to find a place for that character where the audience is allowed to not trust him, but at the same time, they catch a glimpse for whatever reason they can’t trust him, he has a really conscience about it.”
The character of Dave is both unlikeable and sympathetic all at the same time.
“It’s funny, there’s a lot of things stacked up in that character that we shouldn’t really like and the trick is trying to keep him somewhat sharing at least the center of the movie and follow that journey with him without ever losing touch with him because we don’t like him or lose sense of his moral line or something,” Edgerton said. “But he is definitely emasculated. His ability to kind of protect his own family and to keep his own state of mind is being threatened. And at the same time, he is trying to maintain a family life: being a father to two kids, keeping a business running, and hoping and praying that this whole thing will go away and that everything will be okay. And of course, it’s not.”
Joel Edgerton had to remind the director that he was available to work, and didn’t abandon Australia for Hollywood
“I had Kieran acting in my first short film that I had made and in the second short film I made. We wrote a couple of things together. Funnily enough when he came to make his feature debut, and he had these other references for actors and locations and what have you, there are all of these pictures of other actors and him. I actually had to tap him on the shoulder and be like, ‘Who’s going to be in this movie?’ Kieran thought I was lost to Hollywood for some reason or that I sort of had my eyes on a different sort of prize,” Edgerton said about the process of landing a role in the film.
“He was thrilled that I came to do it; he just figured that he didn’t want to bother me or something,” the actor continued. “So thank God I had that conversation with him. I would never do his movies just because he’s a friend of mine. Cause as we all know movies take too much time to make, you give up too much in laughter. But I love his writing, I’ve always been inspired by it. In fact, the reason I write now is because of Kieran.”
Joel Edgerton explains how he got the role of Tom Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby” from Ben Affleck, and the long journey of “Zero Dark Thirty”
“The initial character [I played] was of the same kind of makeup. He was a Special Forces guy,” Edgerton said about the first incarnation of “Zero Dark Thirty.” “In fact, I’m sure it’s been well reported that Kathryn’s initial project was based on the book [‘Kill Bin Laden‘ by Dalton Fury] about that failed attempt to get Bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains, just post-9/11. I was also signed up and saddled up to do that. I think we were about three months out, maybe even less, and Bin Laden was killed. Of course, everything kind of shifted. It sort of didn’t really make sense to go ahead and make that project because there was such a more relevant story to be told. [Screenwriter] Mark Boal, amazingly under very difficult circumstances, went out and gathered all of the information. Not only that, but did all of the research and wrote a screenplay that was ready to shoot within like seven months or something…”
“That was amazing and ironically and fortuitously or however you want to say, my ability to be free to do ‘Gatsby’ — ‘Gatsby’ would have completely clashed with that Bin Laden movie,” Edgerton continued. “And I remember when we were in a state of talking about what the new incarnation of that movie was going to be, a part of my concern was that I wouldn’t be able to do ‘Gatsby,’ and I don’t know the most delicate way of saying this, but in a way two situations are thanks to my ability to get on work with Baz [Luhrmann]. One of them was Ben Affleck getting his financing to do ‘Argo‘ because he had the part, the role of Tom Buchanan and the other one was the whole Bin Laden situation because if it weren’t for Seal Team 6 and that whole situation at that very time, I would have been in the hills with Kathryn shooting a very different version of that story.”
“Jane Got A Gun” is going fine, but some of that stuff you read on the internet might be true
“I operate under the theory that all publicity is good publicity and then if that theory doesn’t work, you just say that any newspaper article ends up on the bottom of the parrot cage. But of course you can’t line a parrot cage with internet bloggers, can you? I’ll be honest and say that a large portion of what you read on the internet is true and a percentage of it is just complete bollocks, but it is what it is,” Edgerton said philosophically about the chatter surrounding the western. “If it’s something that’s true and it gets out there, then that’s what it is. If something’s false and it gets out there, you just have to be able to laugh about it.”
“I think that I’ve just about come to the end of one of the most unusual kind of situations in filmmaking history perhaps,” he continued. “I have no idea of much worse situations because I’m amazed in some ways how movies just fall over and never come back. And this movie had the opportunity to sort of fall over, but it’s only tripped over and righted itself because of the spirit of everybody behind the movie. A massive part of that has been in the inclusion early on of Gavin O’Connor replacing Lynne Ramsay. I was part of the reason for dragging Gavin into this experience, that I don’t know many people who work harder than Gavin. When Gavin gets involved in something, it’s all he does. He lives and breathes the movie. He becomes obsessed to make sure everything is great and he will not stop. He is in ‘Terminator 2,’ like the liquid thing [T-1000]. He came in with very little prep time and sorted things out. He gathered all of the information and became the general that we all needed at that time.”
Joel Edgerton wouldn’t mind playing a Jedi if he’s called back for more “Star Wars”
“No one’s called me on the Tatooine hotline yet, but who knows. I always rued the fact that my brother [Nash Edgerton] was involved in the movies too. Strangely enough, I’m in the middle of doing a movie [‘Jane Got A Gun’] with Natalie [Portman] and Ewan [McGregor], so maybe I’m secretly making a ‘Star Wars’ movie and I haven’t been told,” Edgerton joked. “I always rued that my brother did some stunt doubling for Ewan and got to do all of these kind of mad Jedi maneuvers and Uncle Owen was always sort of a peaceful moisture farmer. So, at one minute, I know Owen’s dead in ‘Episode 4.’ If I were to come back in another ‘Star Wars’ movie, I’d maybe like to switch roles, no offense to Owen, but maybe I could play some sort of dark, bad Jedi or something… I might play Tom Buchanan with a light-saber.”
“Wish You Were Here” opens on Friday, June 7th.