The Odd Life of Timothy Green’s Joel Edgerton feels dirty


BEVERLY HILLS—Of course, there have been other handsome Australians. But Joel Edgerton isn’t just any handsome Australian actor. Over the next year, he’ll get in Jay Gatsby’s face—in 3-D, naturally—and take down Osama bin Laden. In a few minutes, his costar Jennifer Garner will call him, accurately, “dreamy”. And just now, he’s walking into a hotel room to discuss his new movie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, wearing a fedora and gripping a bar of soap.

“I’ve got a massive head, so it’s hard to find ’em,” he says, doffing the hat. “I think this is the Indiana Jones in me trying to get out.” His head appears disappointingly normal, if well-shaped; his eyes are very blue, and he’s not altogether certain how the soap got in his hand. “I think, subconsciously, I feel dirty. I’m just answering all these questions and I feel dirty.” Perfectly understandable.

Someone in the room apparently forgot to catch Edgerton in the Australian crime-family saga Animal Kingdom, or maybe that tense little Aussie thriller The Square. After hearing his all-American stylings in The Odd Life of Timothy Green (now playing), they are startled by in-person Edgerton. What? You mean he’s not American? “Oh, I’m Australian,” he says to much laughter. “I’m from Sydney.” Oh, so he, uh, “changed” his accent for the film? “Yeah, yeah; if I didn’t change it, they would have fired me.”

Surely not. This is a man who bravely played Darth Vader’s stepbrother in two Star Wars films. He pummelled Tom Hardy in Warrior, that mashup of mixed martial arts and brotherly angst. And he has yet greater experience to parlay. “I’ve probably seen more Happy Days, Brady Bunch, Eight Is Enough, Gilligan’s Island than you could care to think is safe for a child.”

In Timothy Green, Edgerton plays Jim Green, a pencil-factory foreman in the fictitious town of Stanleyville, USA. When Jim and his wife, Cindy (Garner), are unable to produce a child via the usual channels, one turns up on a stormy night thanks to the magic of, well, Disney. Young Timothy (C J Adams) does have leaves growing on his legs, but then, children can be difficult.

“I think there’s something really nice in the way that Peter’s made a film that really rips open the chest cavity and shows its heart,” Edgerton says, musing about writer-director Peter Hedges.

Perhaps it’s a good moment to ask if Edgerton is the Navy SEAL who shoots bin Laden in his bedroom in Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming account of the hunt for al-Qaeda’s leader? “I cannot tell you that,” he says, laughing. What can he tell? “Uh, I can tell you, uh… that we shot the movie.” Okay. “And I had a great time.” And? And this is “very delicate subject matter”.

“It’s [the secrecy] kind of exciting for everybody, because it saves us all having to suppose or hypothesize about it and the movie can come out and we can just judge it for what it is. Which is what I think movies should be. But, uh, yeah, I’m in the movie. Spoiler! Spoiler! I’m in the movie!” he says, laughing again, then adds: “Well, I don’t know yet because they haven’t finished cutting it.”

But relax, he loves the “3-Dness” of The Great Gatsby, in which he plays brutish Tom Buchanan to Leonardo DiCaprio’s tragic hero. “The ’20s were so about excess, you know?” he says. “I think the 3-D serves the spirit of the book.” Besides, “it’s not like arrows-flying-at-your-face kind of 3-D.”

Incidentally, if anybody’s asking, he’s not exactly worried about always appearing macho on-screen. “Fuck that,” he says happily. “I mean, I wanna be a bumbling fool or a lover, you know? I want to be the loser; I don’t care. If it’s a character, if it says something about real life and I have access to do it, then sure. I don’t want to wear a tight leather jacket and carry a gun and cock one eyebrow for the rest of my life, because I think that would fuckin’ be boring.”

Then again, “there’s nothing better than going to the cinema to watch yourself be cool. Don’t get me wrong.”

Watch the trailer for The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

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