Actor Joel Edgerton is having one hell of a great year in 2011. Not only did he garner numerous rave reviews for his performance in the indie sports drama Warrior (alongside Dark Knight Rises star Tom Hardy and veteran actor Nick Nolte), but now he’s set to make his horror genre debut with his performance in Universal Studios’ upcoming prequel The Thing, which is set to hit theaters on October 14th.
Recently Dread Central had the opportunity to chat with the rising star about what attracted him to The Thing, his thoughts on making a prequel of one of the greatest horror films of all time and what he looks for when considering a role to add to his eclectic resume, which also includes work on movies like Star Wars: Episodes II & III, Kinky Boots, Smokin’ Aces and the upcoming film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby.
Edgerton stars alongside Mary Elizabeth Winsted (Final Destination 3, Live Free or Die Hard) in the upcoming prequel of The Thing, directed by Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr., as US helicopter pilot Braxton Carter, who joins forces with Winstead’s paleontologist Kate Lloyd in order to destroy an alien life form that has escaped the icy coffin it’s been frozen inside of for centuries during an isolated expedition in Antarctica.
Once the creature is on the loose, no one is safe as Kate soon discovers its deadly secret: The alien is actually a parasite that can mimic anything it touches and is clever enough to pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish amongst the human population of the entire world.
Edgerton, who’s a bit of a newbie to the horror genre, talked about why he came on board the prequel.
“I came on board The Thing via the usual channels,” explained the actor, “but right off the bat, I felt like the script really set itself apart from a lot of other horror that’s being released these days so that immediately piqued my interest. I’m honestly not usually one to be ‘taken’ by horror movies, but my acting philosophy is ‘never say never’ so I decided this was something I really wanted to do. And the truth is- I never imagined I’d actually be good in a horror movie because I think it’s the type of work that requires a special skill set, and I didn’t know if I had it in me. I’ve never really tested myself this way before.”
“But I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter’s original The Thing so I knew if there was a horror movie I should do, it was this one. Plus, I really liked Matthijs and Eric’s (writer Heisserer, who also recently penned Final Destination 5) take on creating this clever prequel story as a companion to the original film. I really think their story is a fantastic way to revisit that world without trying to redo anything from Carpenter’s movie. There are a lot of homages but some new twists, too,” added Edgerton.
The actor wasn’t the only horror newcomer on set of The Thing– director van Heijningen is another up-and-coming talent in the industry as well. Before coming on board to helm the prequel, he’d only been tested as a big budget commercial director in Europe. It was his success as one of the more prominent visionaries working in that field that caught the eye of Universal, and Edgerton added his thoughts as to why van Heijningen was the perfect choice to direct the flick.
Edgerton said, “You see in the industry a lot of commercial directors making the leap to big budget movies, but they never quite get the job done or are able to make that kind of transition successfully. But Matthijs really stepped up to the plate on The Thing and did an incredible job of creating this wonderfully atmospheric story with these really elaborate set-ups, and that kind of creativity is something I appreciate. When you’re making this kind of movie, you have to be able to balance the aliens and creatures out with the human side of the story as well, and I think Matthijs accomplished that in this movie.”
Since the actor seems to have an extremely varied Hollywood resume (2011 alone is a perfect demonstration of that), we asked Edgerton what he’s looking for as an artist when considering a role.
“You know, every project seems to lure me in for different reasons,” explained Edgerton. “Warrior was just one of those very ambitious stories that I knew I had to be a part of it from the moment I picked up the script. The Thing was ambitious in its own right and was outside the realm of my comfort zone so it was a new challenge to take on and push myself. And The Great Gatsby is just one of those amazing ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities you can’t afford to pass up.”
“But I don’t know if there’s anything specific I’ve always kept in the back of my head when I’m reading scripts or considering projects; I just want to work on things that seem interesting to me. I do know that I’ve been incredibly lucky so far in my career- especially over the last year or so, and it’s just fantastic to be a part of so many great things,” added Edgerton.
Look for The Thing prequel to invade theaters on October 14th!
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