Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Two Brothers focuses mainly on the tigers rather than
the human actors. Did you have any reservations about playing
second fiddle to the animals?
A. Not in the slightest. That was one of the
reasons I wanted to do the film. I liked the style and tone of
the film – the fact that it is through the eyes of the cats
and you get a sense of what they’re experiencing.
The people are more in the background. Obviously, their actions
are integral to the plot, and they affect what’s happening
to the cats, but having them in the background leaves them being
slightly cryptic, slightly unknown. That adds to the sympathy
you feel as an audience member towards the cats.
Q. Does the film’s message about animal rights
tally with your own views?
A. Yeah, definitely. I’m not an activist as such;
I don’t feel comfortable in that role. But I do have strong
views about doing the right thing by animals. I donate a lot of
money to various animal charities and causes. Since making the
film, I’ve narrated a documentary about tigers, which is
a way of helping, because it sheds light on the plight of the
Q. Were you worried about working with potentially dangerous
A. I found it really exciting. It was such a buzz to
be on set with tigers and also a bit bizarre, because all the
actors were in cages to make sure they didn’t get hurt,
while the tigers were wandering around freely. Normally, it’s
the other way round.
Q. Did they ensure the tigers were never hungry? Was
that one of the safety procedures?
A. The trainers understand their dietary requirements
and make sure the animals are properly fed, but safety was more
about keeping your distance in cages. I don’t think the
majority of the time, when a tiger decides to attack you, it’s
because it’s hungry. It may just be really pissed off at
you for, say, encroaching on its territory, or threatening its
Q. How do you feel about animals being trained to perform?
A. As much as we want to relate to animals and interact
with them, we can take it too far. There was a circus performer,
in Germany, who had worked with lions for years. Then one day,
one of the lions whacked him on the side of the head and killed
Q. As an actor who has shunned the showbizzy side of
movie-making, what are your thoughts on Los Angeles?
A. My views have changed. I like the place now. I can
deal with it. I realised that I had to learn to accept the place,
if only because of work. When I first started coming to Los Angeles,
10 years ago, I really struggled with it. I hated everything about
the place – the smog, the competitive nature of the industry,
I didn’t know anyone, so I felt lonely.
Q. So what’s changed?
A. I’ve managed to let go of my resistance to LA.
I’ve met a lot of great, intelligent people, so when I come
here now it feels friendlier and more familiar. I’ve also
let go of my preciousness about work. I’d solidified in
my head the idea that I only came to Los Angeles to work and that
was all I focused on, which is a really difficult way to exist
here. Since then I’ve become more sociable.
Q. Who do you socialise with in LA?
A. I don’t socialise that much – I’m
a bit of a loner. I get a bit socially phobic. But I’ll
catch up with, say, Curtis Hanson [director of LA Confidential]
or other people I’ve worked with.
Q. Is there any pressure to follow other Australian actors
into blockbusters, like Russell Crowe, in Gladiator,
and Eric Bana, in Hulk?
A. To some extent I’ve tried that already with
films like The Time Machine.
You do it and you learn from it. You ask yourself, ‘Is this
really what I want to be doing?’ The answer, for me, is
no. I’ve experimented with big studio films for the sake
of it and not had a fabulous time. I’ve gotten much better
at turning big movies down in favour of something with a more
Q. You and Russell Crowe were both in LA Confidential.
Did it not niggle you that his career took off so spectacularly,
whereas yours has been a slower process?
A. I didn’t want my career to take off, not to
that extent, so it couldn’t niggle me. When I was in Neighbours,
I experienced that whole ridiculous thing of screaming teenage
fans chasing me down the street for four or five years. It was
horrible. I don’t want that to happen again, so I was nervous
about the idea of working in Hollywood.
I didn’t want some producer, or studio, to turn me into
the hot new thing. They were talking like it was gonna happen,
but I resisted it. I want to make interesting, small films. They
pay enough. I don’t need vast amounts of money and to get
my name out there more. That would mean even less privacy.
Q. Are you not tempted by
the thought of a big star salary?
A. I like having money, there’s no doubt about
that. But I feel uncomfortable if I’ve got too much. It
doesn’t feel very balanced.
Q. Does it strike you that maybe you’ve chosen
a strange career, considering the fact that you don’t want
to be famous and aren’t motivated by money?
A. It all comes down to why I do it, and it’s about
the form of _expression rather than the by-products of success.
It’s trying to find the balance. I’ve certainly got
an ego and I certainly can get greedy, but I’m also aware
of when I’m getting egotistical, and when I’m getting
greedy, so I try and keep everything in check.
I think I’m capable of that. I’ve had enough success
to help me get over some of my insecurities, but I don’t
need big stardom. That would only send me crazy. It’s like
drinking coffee. I’m not a coffee man; I can’t handle
Q. Are you competitive?
A. I feel like I must be, in a way, but why can’t
it be fair? Why does it have to be about outdoing someone, you
know? Why can’t it be, ‘I’ll give you this and
you give me that’?
Q. Does that mean you find it hard to go after a part
you really want?
A. I take an honest approach. I’ll go and meet
a director and talk to him about how I think the role should be
played. When I spoke to Chris Nolan, about Memento,
I just said, ‘I really love the script and I’d like
to do the movie’, and he gave me the part. You hear about
actors banging on directors’ doors going, ‘I’m
the only person for the role’, but I can’t do that.
I’m not that desperate. My attitude is: "If I’m
what you want, great."
Q. What are your views on hunting?
A. I suppose it depends on your reasons for hunting.
There are understandable reasons for it, but, when it’s
done simply for sport, there’s a lot of ignorance involved.
People need to wake up to that. When I was a kid, my stepbrother
would take me fishing, but there came a point when I thought:
‘This doesn’t feel right. That poor fish looks like
it’s having a horrible time." He said ‘Fish don’t
feel any pain’, but it looked like it was in pain to me.
Q. Are you a vegetarian?
A. No, but I’m gearing towards becoming one. I
don’t cook meat and I don’t eat meat at home, but
I will treat myself to it if I go out to dinner. I know I can
get protein in other ways, but it’s a bit of a habit, like
I should eat meat because I’m so skinny. Then I remind myself
Q. How did your dad’s death affect you?
A. I’m not a psychologist and I’m just theorising
here, but I do wonder whether my stoic, let’s-get-on-with-life
attitude after Dad died forced me to kind of act like everything
was PK. Maybe that’s how I learned how to act.
Q. When did the acting bug bite?
A. My mum used to take me to the theatre and I flipped
out. I loved it. In a way I was envious of the actors. I wanted
to be up there, on stage, affecting people the way they were affecting
Q. Most of the actors you play on screen are pretty intense
and also pretty miserable. Are you like that off-screen?
A. I have my darker moments, definitely. I’m always
struggling to keep my head above water. Being happy is never an
accident for me – it’s something I have to work at.
I get frustrated easily. I’ve started to learn to meditate,
to slow myself down, and it’s been fantastic. I’ve
got a great deal of sadness in me that is connected to my dad
I feel a real empathy for people who are sad, and so I relate
to characters who are unhappy and dark. I’m not great at
playing happy, floppy people. I’m not great at being happy
and floppy full-stop.
Q. Is acting like therapy for you?
A. Yes, it is. I look at acting as therapy. Every time
I do a job, it helps me work through stuff. As I become more stable,
I wonder if I might lose the urge to be an actor. I may not. The
desire to experience playing other people will probably always
be there. But my desire to sort of sort myself out through acting
may not be so full-on.
Q. What would you do if you walked away from acting?
A. I’d probably make music. I’m very serious
about it. But I’m not so sure about the whole thing of getting
a record deal and getting an album in stores. I think it’s
important for me to record an album and solidify something, rather
than keeping everything in demo form and never doing anything
Then, if I was to release it, I’d do it through the internet
and give the money to charity. How many demos do I have? Zillions!
I’m 36-years-old and have been writing songs for years.
I guess I should just release a box set and get it all out there
in one go.