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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 30, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 18
Nash Edgerton gives film noir a brilliant makeover down under
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Nash Edgerton gives film noir a brilliant makeover down under

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

The Square
Now Playing


I must confess, when I got the note saying Nash Edgerton was coming to Seattle to promote his film The Square, I had to look him up. After a couple of quick clicks, I found out that Nash was the founding member of a loosely knit moviemaking collective from down under that's quickly becoming the darling of the indie film fest circuit.

I also found out he was a sought-after Hollywood stuntman who had worked in blockbusters like Star Wars Episode II and III, The Matrix flicks, and Moulin Rouge, among many others. Nash is also an editor, producer, and one-half of a brotherly movie-making team along with his acting and screenwriting sibling Joel.

Stuntman turned director? A dark story about crimes gone wrong and the nice people who get involved in them? Mmmmm. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong.

Forget about screaming car chases ending with spectacular crashes and even more spectacular explosions. The Square, despite its rough-trade Aussie director and his equally rough screenwriter brother, is not that kind of flick.

The Square is a story-driven neo-noir that resists the usual "look at me I'm neo-noir" grandstanding. In fact, it turns film noir on its ear by making the characters so mundane and engrossing. The central twosome, Randy and Carla, are arguably the most humdrum and dim-witted characters in the entire movie yet you never get tired of seeing them screw things up.

Though the complex narrative is darkly funny, you won't laugh out loud. You will, however, be kept guessing from the beginning to the end as each new twist is revealed.

I sat down with Edgerton in his suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle. He sat cross-legged in a wing chair wearing old-school Levis, a T-shirt, a gray hoodie, and the whitest socks in the northern hemisphere.

Scott Rice: Awesome movie, I really, really liked it. I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't too familiar with your work, or your brother's [Joel Edgerton] work. It kept me guessing from the start to the finish.

Nash Edgerton: Oh, cool. That's good. That's the plan.

Rice: So you've worked on a bunch of movies as a stunt coordinator and as a stuntman, some big movies, Star Wars Episode II and III, Moulin Rouge, The Matrix movies. What's it like to go from doing and coordinating stunts to directing?

Edgerton: I just love the process of making films, you know, and the whole collaborative nature of it. I mean, doing stunts is one thing, but trying to take on the whole production is a whole other thing. I find it kind of challenging, rewarding, exciting, scary - and all those things.

Rice: Let's go back a little. When did you know you wanted to be in the movie business?

Edgerton: When I was 18. When I was younger, I was always making videos in the backyard with my dad's video camera and with my brother. I never thought of it as a real thing to do. When I was 18, I decided I was going to be a stuntman. It was like, "I'm going to work in films."

Rice: Where did the story for The Square come from?

Edgerton: My brother's dark mind. [Laughs.] It's an original idea he had. He had the idea one night and he pretty much wrote the whole [thing]. & I've got the piece of paper somewhere that he wrote the initial idea down on.

Rice: Did you have a hard time? & It's complicated storytelling. Was it challenging?

Edgerton: Yeah, editing it was more challenging than directing it. I shot more material than you see in the finished film, so it's like, "I need to take this out." & I think I shot another half-hour or 40 minutes of material that's not in the film. There's more stuff between Billy and Lilly and with Randy's wife....

Rice: What got left out that will be in the director's cut?

Edgerton: I feel like this is the cut I wanted, but I'll put extra scenes that I shot on the DVD.

Rice: All the characters are kind of reprehensible in their own discrete way. Who is your favorite character and why?

Edgerton: I like Billy and Lily a lot. Just because they're considered the bad people, but Billy is the only character who has a moral code that he sticks to, you know? I liked how my brother played it. It would be easy to make him be a cookie-cutter bad guy.

Rice: That's one thing you did really well, it's kind of like film noir, but not in a self-conscious way and without those simplified peripheral characters that are either good guys or bad guys. The characters are all somewhere in between.

Edgerton: Yeah, I think real people are. I mean she [Carla] is not a femme fatale.

Rice: No, not at all.

Edgerton: But people know film noir and just project that as what she is. She's not. She's in a relationship she wants to get out of, where there's no real communication. I think people are more gray like that; I think people have a bit of good and a bit of bad in them.

Rice: You and your brother work together a lot. Is it tough to work with your brother? Are you guys close?

Edgerton: Yeah, we're really close. We got all our fighting out of the way when we were kids. [Laughs.] He's my best friend.

Rice: Do you see yourself making a movie with a Queer character?

Edgerton: Yeah, I don't see why not. I live in Darlinghurst in Sydney, and that's where Mardi Gras happens. Some of my best friends are Queer so it's like ... yeah.

Rice: When I see your next film and there's a Gay dude in it, I'm going to tell all my friends it was my idea.

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