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Joel Edgerton On Evolving Career Path: It's About Learning Different Aspects Of Myself

Australian star Joel Edgerton says he is always interested in taking up challenges which resonate with his mental space and help him understand himself better.

Joel Edgerton
Joel Edgerton Instagram: @joeledgerton

Australian star Joel Edgerton says he is always interested in taking up challenges which resonate with his mental space and help him understand himself better.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Golden Globe winner said he wanted to watch and be part of "feel-good" stories, and Oscar-winning director Ron Howard's rescue drama "Thirteen Lives" was a perfect blend of all things positive.

The movie, which premiered on Prime Video last week, recounts the true story of the global effort in 2018 to rescue the members of a Thai soccer team who were trapped in northern Thailand's flooded Tham Luang cave for 18 days.

"I'm always interested in a new challenge. I'm always interested in learning a new skill or learning about a different aspect of myself," Edgerton, 48, told PTI in a virtual interview.

"What drew me to 'Thirteen Lives' in many ways, particularly during the pandemic, was knowing that the outcome of this story is positive... I personally, at the moment, want to watch movies that make me feel good. I felt I should also be in a movie that made other people feel good," he added.

The Golden Globe winner, known for his relatable everyman characters in acclaimed movies such as "Animal Kingdom", "Zero Dark Thirty", "Black Mass" and "Loving", essays the role of Dr Richard Harris in his latest film.

Dr Harris, the Australian cave diver and anesthetist, was brought on board for the rescue mission after the team realised the 12 boys and their coach will have to be tranquilised for their trip out of the cave.

As enthusiastic as he was to tell this story of hope, Edgerton said he had many "nervous" moments during the filming of the movie.

The actor and his longtime partner Christine Centenera were expecting twins when he was on the other side of his home country filming for "Thirteen Lives".

"The big challenge for me was that I was about to become a father. The movie was happening and my babies were on the way. It was a race to see whether the film would finish first or my babies would come first.

"They came before the finish of the shooting and there was a risk of a border closure in Australia that I may be trapped on the wrong side. So, I was secretly very nervous throughout the whole shoot (thinking) that there would be complications around the family," he added.

Edgerton and Centenera, the fashion director of Vogue Australia, welcomed twins in May 2021.

The actor said embracing fatherhood also helped him understand the thought process of Dr Harris, who was willing to take up the challenge to rescue the soccer team members even when he knew they all could die.

"I could connect with that feeling, especially given that I was about to become a father. Having that responsibility of the life or death of the children in your hands is such a massive weight.

"It wasn't very hard for me to understand what pressure Harry was under. He was there to play a role that could affect the rest of his life as well as the lives of the families," he said.
For a better insight into his character and the incident, Edgerton read Harris and his diving partner Craig Challen's book "Against All Odds". The 2019 book, he said, goes deep into Harris' feelings and his decision making process.
"Dr Harris to me is an incredibly special and honourable man who was put in a massively high pressure situation. I'm so impressed by him as a human being. I feel honoured to be able to play him. I feel lucky that I'm an Australian and that I look enough like him. It was one of those lucky situations for me," he added.

The actor said he now plans to take up projects that let him stay close to his kids. He will soon start working on the Apple TV+ series "Dark Matter", based on the bestseller by Blake Crouch.

"At the moment, now that I have children, I'm thinking about how I can stay in one place. I'm about to start working on an Apple series that I'm very interested in. It's also about keeping the family together."

Edgerton, who has previously directed acclaimed films such as psychological thriller "The Gift" and biographical drama "Boy Erased", said he would want to tell thriller and suspense stories in future.

"I'm interested in directing more in the future and telling my own stories," he added.

And, as an actor, he aspires to star in an out-and-out comedy movie some day.

"I really gravitate towards drama. But one day, just one day, I'd really like to be in a really broad comedy. I think I'm funny enough," he said.

"Thirteen Lives", an Amazon Studios project, also stars Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Tom Bateman, Paul Gleeson, Sukollawat Kanarot, Thiraphat Sajakul, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Vithaya Pansringarm, and Teeradon Supapunpinyo, among others. 

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