Nash and Joel Edgerton.

Joel Edgerton shares the frustration of countless actors, crew and other freelancers who have been overlooked in the government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy, noting the irony that millions of people are stuck at home watching screen content by those people and their peers.

But the actor/writer/director has an optimistic outlook for the screen industry when it emerges from the pandemic.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the good things that have changed stick after we all go back to our normal lives,” he said today in a webinar hosted by David Berthold, NIDA’s Director Centre for Creative Practices.

“As artists we’ve realised how much we are not considered part of the necessary social fabric even though every single night people are dealing with this crisis by watching entertainment.

“It’s sad to see a lot of actors, crew and other freelancers have lost their income so I hope that comes back full burst.

“But I am excited thinking about how production might change, how we can get together in smaller groups and still make stuff, and seeing what new and exciting things can happen.”

In the webinar, Edgerton discussed his training at the now-defunct Theatre Nepean, his prodigious work ethic and his upcoming film with writer-director Thomas M. Wright.

Edgerton and Sean Harris will star in Wright’s The Unknown Man, a psychological thriller which was set to go into pre-production before COVID-19 struck.

Inspired by a true story, the plot follows criminal Henry (Harris) and Mark (Edgerton), who strike up a friendship after meeting on a plane.

For Henry, Mark seems to be his saviour and ally. What he doesn’t know is that Mark is an undercover cop who is determined to convict him of an unsolved murder committed years prior.

Edgerton brought the material to Wright two years ago after watching his debut film Acute Misfortune. “I’m really looking forward to working with Thomas, who is one of the most exciting filmmakers we have produced in Australia,” Joel said.

Wright tells IF he plans to start pre-production and shoot the film in the “industrial wasteland” of Port Adelaide, backed by the South Australian Film Corp., and in northern NSW as soon as restrictions are lifted and Harris returns from the UK.

The producers are See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Rachel Gardner, Anonymous Content’s Kerry Roberts and Kim Hodgert (who collaborated with Edgerton on Boy Erased) and Edgerton.

He told Berthold he was inspired to be an actor after watching John Howard perform in the Sydney Theatre Company production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in the early 1990s.

After graduating from Theatre Nepean he saw himself as a theatre actor and appeared in numerous plays for five years.

He turned to writing and later directing films in part to ensure he could get acting jobs, despite a lack of experience in that medium: The film component of his three-year Theatre Nepean course lasted just six weeks.

Despite his vast body of work, he suffers from first-night nerves on stage, even co-starring with Cate Blanchett on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire. “I was terrified,” he recalls.

While he seems equally passionate about acting, writing and directing, he sees directing – “telling the whole story” – as the best job in the world.

His advice to fellow artists: “Be good at your job and also be a good person. Being a good person will elongate your career as much as being a good actor.”

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