Why Actor Joel Edgerton Thinks We All Need To Stop Retreating Into Our Personal Worlds

RISING Are you a generally a fan of horror movies?

JOEL EDGERTON ‘I like horror, but it’s not done very well, very often. There’s a lot of crap out there, a huge body count, gore, all that. I hate blood porn, gets me a little queasy. When the bodies start stacking up for no reason, I tune out. I like smart horror that stays with you, that unsettles you, where the evolution and interpretation evolve long after you've watched it. When you think to yourself, “what the hell was that?”’

Get Out did that for me – one of the smartest not only horrors, but films I've seen this year. It's stayed with me, there's a lasting impression and I'm drawn to that; not the idea of the monster at the door but more the monster within and the terror and paranoia that breeds, more the villain is part of real life than unsettling the audience with a poltergeist. Which is a cheery note to start this interview on. I feel like I’ve been sounding very creepy and ominous today and I just want to reassure – it's completely intentional, haha!’

‘I like smart horror that stays with you, that unsettles you long after you've watched it’

RISING We hear you went to some extreme lengths for this role when it came to losing weight?

JE ‘I went a little over the top, a little further than I needed to. I ate, but I was deep in survival mode, getting by on a can of tuna a day.’

RISING That sounds suitably horrific – how did it affect you?

JE ‘Not well mate; I felt terrible. Very out of my body. My energy, my concentration, a general get up and go: flatlined. I was irritable, I was trembling; I got excited by the job and got in over my head. Thankfully, sense prevailed. I went to see a doc; I knew I wasn't executing this the appropriate way and straight away he was like, “You have to start eating normally again, otherwise there might be some damage.” It seemed like a good idea at the time!’

RISING You’ve worked on few quite dark, scary projects – are you in touch with your own fears?

JE ‘I think I possess a healthy amount of fear for a human being. I really hate spiders. And I grew up in Australia, we have some mean-looking ones there. No messing around. And people scare me – obviously not all people but some people in some situations, they scare me. What people are capable of, and what they can do and where they can go in their mind; that’s scary.’

RISING Looking at the state of the world right now, are you pessimistic?

JE ‘The news today is fucking terrifying. Probably in the last six months to a year, I've become quite religious in my devouring of current affairs; so many shocking events and it's a scary world we're living in. And it's fucking depressing sometimes. You know, I have to put the paper down, switch off the news, it becomes overwhelming. And I really think of myself as an optimist. But it's not easy these days, it's really not easy.’

‘With awareness comes a move away from universal apathy – the revolution, it begins at home’

RISING Given that, how do you go about being an optimist?

JE ‘It's also a good wave of change coming, occurring now. I've become much more aware recently, which means that's generally happening all over the world. And with awareness comes a move away from universal apathy which got us here in the first place. We all need to be more involved as a society instead of switching off and retreating into our own private worlds and consuming ourselves with our private interests. The revolution, it begins at home.’

WHAT NEXT? Check out the trailer for the new psych horror It Comes At Night from acclaimed writer and director, Trey Edward Shults…