Jai Courtney’s rise to fame has gone the express route thanks to being thrust into big franchises opposite even bigger action stars (“Jack Reacher,” “A Good Day to Die Hard,” “Divergent,” “Terminator Genysis”).
The Australian actor is the first to admit that not all the movies have been successful, but he’s learned the dog-eat-dog reality of the business, which has prepared him for the intense scrutiny surrounding his next film, “Suicide Squad” (in theatres Friday), in which he plays DC Comics’ dysfunctional Captain Boomerang.
Business Insider talked to Courtney (who was in a foul-mouthed mood, so be prepared) in New York City about those highly publicized “Suicide Squad” reshoots, if there will ever be another “Terminator” movie, and whispers he’s heard about stars of another franchise who can’t stand each other (is he talking about Marvel?).
Business Insider: So let’s get the whole news of you taking mushrooms while Skyping with director David Ayer out of the way.
Jai Courtney: I’ve heard so many versions of that story.
BI: So let’s get the real one.
Courtney: It’s not even worth getting into because it’s f—ing — it’s just a silly thing when s— gets misconstrued.
BI: It was more you having fun with a reporter?
Courtney: Yeah, I was f—ing around a little. But then that’s me having to learn when to put the brakes on because when a conversation turns into print, it’s a little harder to grasp the concept.
BI: So we can we say you did not have to go to such lengths to get the role?
Courtney: No. I would never do that.
BI: All these stories about how David Ayer prepares his cast — having you box each other and get interrogated — at a certain point do you go, “Enough of this, David, let’s just act”?
Courtney: That’s the beauty of it. It’s not like he’s complicating anything with this stuff. It’s fuelling. It’s fanning the fire. It’s a really cool way to shake up the usual pattern of preparation for a job. It’s good that you never really know what that’s going to mean, you know? That’s a gift.
BI: Did doing all that actually help your performance?
Courtney: Yeah, for sure. It kind of feeds into it. You can do whatever work you think is necessary for a job but unless you have a system like this in place, you may not uncover certain things. There’s not a right or wrong way to prepare. My approach changes on every job. But I think David having this long preproduction and the physical demands — I think it’s all in the luxury of rehearsal. You’re only going to go deeper and that’s what he’s interested in.
BI: You’ve done numerous franchises. Is this the most prep you’ve done out of any of those?
Courtney: Yeah, 100 per cent. I mean, I have had to do prep that’s heavy on the physical expectations, but never had a rehearsal period like this before.
BI: The “Justice League” character who shows up in a cameo is in a scene with Boomerang. Did you know that person would be in the scene with you?
Courtney: I didn’t f—ing know that was happening when we were filming. That was a surprise for me when I saw the film.
BI: How was it written originally?
Courtney: It was written like we didn’t really know. But it’s part of the roundup of the squad, so my interpretation was that he had been taken out by [Rick] Flag’s crew. But it’s not specified [in the script]. When I saw it, I was like, of course!
BI: But that has to be fun because while filming, surrounded by green screens, you’re thinking one thing and then when you see it on-screen, it’s another.
Courtney: Totally. It was just a nice little thread. That’s what’s cool about all this. The potential for that to happen over the course of wherever all this goes is there. The relationships between these characters and different characters in other properties, too. The fact that we can all get into bed and mix it up, the future is bright in that sense.
BI: How much reshooting was there? Set the record straight.
Courtney: I was a little pissed off by all the reports. The rumours around us having to inject levity into it and all this shit. It was silly because the movie already had all that. All we did was shoot a big action sequence that was changing the shape of another one we had already shot.
BI: The ending?
Courtney: Yeah. We were just doing stuff with Enchantress. We did things that introduced stuff earlier that they wanted to get rid of basically. Changing her ability to engage with the squad, they enhanced that interaction. It was normal. It was strengthening the ending. The original [ending] we shot was dope, it was just adding to it, not doing an alternative.
BI: So when you see this movie, you like it? There’s no feeling that they screwed it up in post?
Courtney: I f—ing love this movie. It’s great to see it all come together. I love that about filmmaking and getting to see everyone else that you don’t necessarily engage with on set everyday and getting them to showcase their talents. Whether it’s effects, music, the edit, the rhythm of a film is driven by that, so it’s cool to see it come together. It’s great to be standing in front of something you’re genuinely proud of.
BI: Are you bummed that, as far as the immediate future, there are no more “Terminator” movies?
Courtney: Um, no. I mean, look, I would like to do more but that’s not a decision that’s up to me and so for whatever reason they put it on the back burner for now.
BI: You have been thrown into a lot of franchises. Do you have to have a short memory and not anticipate the sequels too much?
Courtney: Yeah, I’ve certainly learned to become unattached to the idea of it having to come around again. And that has been a possibility since, f— man, like [“A Good Day to] Die Hard.” It was like, “Oh, we’ll make another one.”
BI: And that was early in your career, so back then were you pumped by the idea of more movies?
Courtney: Totally. I was still f—ing impressionable. [Laughs]
BI: You didn’t have the scars yet.
Courtney: Yeah. I’m jaded as f— now. But look, you learn to really not listen to it. And look, if it happens, it happens. If it seems like an obvious movie to make then cool. The thing is, if they are going to make another one then hopefully it’s for the right reasons and if that’s the case then I’m game to do it. But with “Terminator,” who knows, it’s probably time to leave it where it is. But if they can get back in there and dig around and decide if there is another film to make, well, I’ll take the call.
BI: What franchise are you more happy to see in the rear-view mirror, the “Terminator” franchise or the “Divergent” franchise?
Courtney: Most in the rear-view? “Divergent.” Look, “Divergent” did a lot for me and I liked that character but I’m glad I was in and out of there in a couple of films. I don’t think it hurts anyone but some of those guys have been making that movie since 2013 and I’m glad I had the fun with it that I did and it’s not my future.
BI: You had a little joke when talking to Stephen Colbert the other night, saying you were happy with “Suicide Squad” because at least you guys get along with each other. Was that a hint that on “Divergent” you all weren’t friendly with one another?
Courtney: No, I didn’t mean that. I think the thing was I was joking about the fact that it’s not always the case on movies. I’ve heard stories from other sets, I won’t name names, but another high-profile franchise that was shooting at the same time we were, and individuals don’t speak to each other.
BI: A franchise that might shoot down in Georgia? [Marvel Studios shoots a lot of its films in the Atlanta region.]
Courtney: I don’t know, couldn’t tell you. But it’s a wrestle every day when that happens because they aren’t the only people shooting a movie. That energy affects everyone on set. So I was just remarking to the fact that it’s cool that was something we didn’t have to bull— about in press. We love each other, you can tell.
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