“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jason Clarke, an actor you may not be too familiar but will be after he blows you away in the film. “Like someone walks up to you and gives you a Clockwork Orange or giving you Remains of the Day or Death of a Salesman. Being in it is something special.”
Clarke, seen in 2012’s underrated Lawless and the upcoming The Great Gatsby, is a native Australian up to the task of disappearing. Disguising his accent is only the beginning — in Zero Dark Thirty, he plays an American CIA operative on the ground in Pakistan. His specialty: interrogation, from casual conversation to waterboarding. Clarke may be one of the nicest actors working today. His character, while not a despicable person in the slightest, is dealing with a bit more moral baggage.
“As an actor, I like to throw myself into something,” says Clarke. “I like to give it everything I got. I’m playing a real guy, who did real things, and is still out there in this world doing his job. I want to represent him as best I can.” The actor says when it comes to pulling off gut-wrenching scenes, he just sticks to the facts, which he finds in writer Mark Boal’s meticulously researched script. Amazingly, on Sept. 11, 2001, Clarke was hiking from China to Pakistan, adding to the weight of the already devastating news. Despite it all, thanks to the honesty of the script, he never once let his own feelings slip into his performance. “I also don’t judge my character. It’s not my job.”
Clarke’s work in Zero Dark Thirty strikes a balance between emotionless and emotional in way that morally ambiguous actions could allow. A true challenge for the actor, who gets a moment of rest in the movie when his character spends a few minutes tending to an army base’s monkey cage. You heard that right.
“It’s a fact, they were there!” says Clarke. “You get in these army bases and there would be a zoo there. And no one was looking after the animals anymore. So they take them in and look after them. They had to go somewhere. That was a real event that was described to Mark.” After working on Zero Dark Thirty, the actor now has a secret to take with him to the next job. When it comes to monkeys, “they love chocolate ice cream.”
Watch the full interview below and check out Zero Dark Thirty, now out in theaters:
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]
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