Jason Clarke spoke at length about his experiences in Hollywood as an Australian actor at Sydney’s SXSW festival this week, revealing personal anecdotes about his journey from Queensland to La La Land, his early acting journey with Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan’s playful fun on the set of Oppenheimer.
Australian actor Jason Clarke initially established his career in his home country, Australia, by showcasing his talents in theatre, television commercials, and soap operas. However, he eventually embarked on a journey to Hollywood, where he sought to further his acting career on a global scale.
Returning to his native Australia for Sydney’s SXSW festival held this week, Clarke recalled his journey to Hollywood and how Christopher Nolan, legendary director of feature films such as Inception, Dunkirk and more recently Oppenheimer, had playfully poked fun at Clarke’s earlier roles and one Australian cult series, in particular.
“I went to drama school, VCA; I was working at Belvoir St; I did some theatre; I did some TV. You know all the basic TV shows you did in Australia: Blue Heelers and Home and Away – which Chris Nolan was mocking me for recently. He actually got it and watched it. He was showing it to the crew and anyone that wanted to watch.”
Whilst Clarke’s career may have begun in Australian film and television, the actor gained international recognition with his role in Kathryn Bigelow’s critically acclaimed film Zero Dark Thirty, earning subsequent parts in The Planet of the Apes reboot, Mudbound, Terminator Genisys and, of course, Nolan’s Oppenheimer.
Undoubtedly, Jason Clarke’s most significant role to date came when he was chosen by Christopher Nolan to portray Roger Robb, a U.S. attorney specifically chosen to prosecute the central character, J. Robert Oppenheimer. In the film, Robb’s role is pivotal, as he conducts the intense security clearance hearing that forms a central narrative and a crucial element in the intricate web of converging timelines meticulously crafted by Nolan.
A Queensland native, Clarke recognised Australian director Phillip Noyce, who also joined the panel, for his contribution to the young actor’s career more than 20 years ago. Noyce booked Clarke to play Constable Riggs in the critically acclaimed film Rabbit Proof Fence – a film that Clarke said encouraged him to take the leap to move to Los Angeles:
“I always wanted to come to America; for me it was Rome. The goal wasn’t just our own stories, but the goal was to see the world for me; to feel the world.”Jason Clarke
Clarke admits that Hollywood still feels like a long way away from home, but found comfort in the group of aspiring actors, including the late Heath Ledger, all living and working together in the pursuit of this one shared goal.
“We all used to play football games. Heath [Ledger] was there back in the day, and we were a crowd of people just sharing couches. Those who were working would give their Per Diems away and we’d play soccer. Then slowly it just starts to come together and you realise that the whole town, the whole business is just a bunch of people like you, that have come from these same places, all congregated here to tell these stories.”
Jason Clarke currently stars as Jerry West in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty now streaming on HBO.