Jack Reacher villain had a lot of fun
Jai Courtney plays one of the baddest of the bad guys in Jack Reacher.PT2M26S http://www.dailylife.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2auvy 620 349 December 5, 2012
Australian actor Jai Courtney was ready for TV stardom two years ago when he was one of two actors being considered to star in an American series. He lost the job, he recalls with a chuckle, ''because an executive said I had a bad-guy face!''
The 26-year-old Sydney native can afford to laugh now, because his Hollywood break finally came, playing the villain opposite Tom Cruise in the upcoming blockbuster Jack Reacher. ''It's ironic, I know,'' he adds with a grin. ''Maybe that guy was right!''
Jack Reacher is the central character in Lee Child's best-selling series of 17 crime novels that have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. In the books, Reacher is a 6'6'' (198-centimetre-tall) blond ex-military investigator with a mysterious past. That didn't stop director Christopher McQuarrie from casting the short, dark-haired Cruise in the title role.
''A bad-guy face'' ... Jai Courtney in ''Jack Reacher''.
''Cinematically, it would have been a bigger problem if I'd found the perfect person physically to play the role,'' he says unapologetically, ''because every time he got in a fight, I'd have to cast seven-foot actors to make it seem like he could be hurt!''
In the action thriller - based on Child's ninth book, One Shot - five people are randomly shot dead by a sharp-shooting assassin and evidence points to one man, who is dragged into custody. The prisoner asks for Jack Reacher, believing the hyper-observant sleuth will uncover the real conspiracy behind the shooting, and he does. This leads Reacher to Charlie (Courtney), an assassin who works for an elusive mob boss, The Zec (Werner Herzog). Robert Duvall also stars as a shooting-range owner who gets drawn into the conflict.
''We don't have much of a gun culture in Australia so that was completely foreign to me,'' Courtney says of his new skill set. ''So the training was extensive and Chris's brother, Doug McQuarrie, was a former Navy SEAL and worked hard to make sure I pulled it off to handle the weapons like I'd been doing it for years.''
The actor had only worked in two episodes of All Saints and Packed to the Rafters when he won the role of Varro in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Sitting in a Hollywood hotel today, Courtney recalls how surreal it was to find himself in below-freezing Pittsburgh in the pouring rain to film fight scenes with one of Hollywood's biggest stars.
''I got there thinking, 'Shit, I'm going to have to face off with Tom Cruise!','' Courtney says. ''But Tom was an incredibly generous guy who worked harder than anybody else on set, and he really took me under his wing.''
Courtney also sheepishly admits he got to share in the perks, too.
''Tom had a hot tub to warm up in between takes, so we both went to the hot tub and then we'd hop out and have to wait for the steam to go away before we could get back to shooting,'' he says.
GENRE Crime thriller.
CRITICAL BUZZ Tom Cruise's new action franchise is based on the best-selling novels by British author Lee Child (born Jim Grant).
STARS Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Jai Courtney.
DIRECTOR Christopher McQuarrie.
RELEASE January 3.