Best known for playing Captain Boomerang in “Suicide Squad,” Jai Courtney first gained attention in 2010 portraying Varro on Starz’s “Spartacus: Blood and Sand.” Since then, the Aussie actor has appeared in “Jack Reacher” and “A Good Day to Die Hard,” followed by “Divergent” and its sequel, “Insurgent.”
He’ll next be seen in “Stateless” as Cam Sanford, a guard at an immigration detention center in the Australian desert. Co-created by Cate Blanchett (who plays the wife of a cult leader) and inspired by true events, the eight-episode series revolves around a group of people at the detention center whose lives become intertwined, including an Australian resident with mental illness (Yvonne Strahovski) being held at the center. After premiering on Australian television in March, “Stateless” hits Netflix on July 8.
How much did you know about the refugee situation in Australia before getting the part?
I didn’t know enough — I still don’t — and I think that’s why it’s such a powerful piece. It starts to unpack an issue. By no means can it really tell the full story, as it’s impossible to encapsulate. This story is set around ’05 and ’06. And I remember when the last of our onshore detention facilities were shut down. We’re all aware in Australia that we have offshore facilities now, but because of the way those centers are protected from media exposure and are protected by government, I guess it’s really easy to just not be educated enough on the realities of it.
You shot this about a year ago, and now the story resonates even more because of borders being closed due to the pandemic.
The timing is incredible. It’s never been more relevant. They’ve talked about trying to get this story off the ground for a number of years. I think it goes to show that people are ready to have these conversations. I hope that audiences can engage with this and see that it’s something that doesn’t take necessarily a hardline approach to jamming a message down anyone’s throat. It honestly tries to pull apart something that you can attack from all sorts of different angles and understand that what we really need is reform more than anything else.
On a lighter note, your “Suicide Squad” co-stars Margot Robbie and Joel Kinnaman have both told Variety how funny the sequel is going to be compared with the first movie because it’s written and directed by James Gunn.
I think it’s kind of got a different flavor. There’s a whole bunch of new characters. James Gunn has an approach to things that is uniquely his; he pulls a lot of that into the “Suicide Squad” world. And I think that it fits really well, and audiences are going to have a lot of fun with it.
Tell me about your most fun day on set.
I won’t to say too much, but there’s a particular sequence when I get very wet, and a few other people do, and hilarity ensued when it came to that. When you’re spending hours upon hours in a water tank with a bunch of people treading water, and you’ve got Styrofoam stuffed into every crevice of your costume to try and take the load off and because it’s 4 a.m., it gets quite ridiculous.
When you were in that water tank, did you ever stop and look around and think, “What has my life become”? It has to feel surreal.
I am lucky that sometimes I’m making these small-budget gritty dramas like “Stateless,” and sometimes I’m out shooting big ridiculous action comedies like “Suicide Squad.” To have feet on both of those trains is a lot of fun — and it also means that I never get tired of it.
This interview has been edited and condensed. You can hear it in its entirety above. You can also listen to “The Big Ticket” on iHeartRadio or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.