Actor Joel Edgerton is best known for his roles in Star Wars: Episode II and Episode III, Animal Kingdom and Warrior. He stars as Tom Buchanan in the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, to be released next year. The 38-year-old is also narrator of Australian documentary Fighting Fear, the story of two friends, big-wave pro surfer Mark Mathews and martial arts fighter Richie ''Vas'' Vaculik, which is in cinemas nationwide. Kate Waterhouse catches up with the award-winning actor to talk about his career, fame and his Great Gatsby co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
Are you excited about The Great Gatsby?
Very excited. It was an awesome experience for all sorts of reasons. It was the perfect storm for me: it was a really big movie shot in Australia with [director] Baz Luhrmann, five minutes from where I live.
What was it like working with Leonardo DiCaprio?
Leo is great. I mean, there are not many movie stars left any more, especially of the younger generation, and it was really great to walk on set and realise he didn't behave like a movie star. I mean, he understood his place in the machine but there wasn't an arrogance or entitlement. I found him to be incredibly grounded and really focused.
Did he have girls chasing him everywhere?
Yes, they were chasing. Funnily enough, the Indian film actor Amitabh [Bachchan, also in The Great Gatsby] is the biggest star in the world [in terms of audience] and girls used to rock up and see Leo but when Amitabh was in town he attracted three times the girls.
What was it like working with Baz?
He's fantastic. He's kind of an all-round good guy: he is good at his job, he is a great director, he is good with people, he dreams big - which is rare in Australia because we keep filmmaking pretty small. Baz is someone who dreams for the stars and reaches them, and I think the film will be very special.
You keep a low profile but are so successful overseas.
I'm just not young and attractive enough for people to get into a flip about [laughs]. I think the way to invite unwanted attention to yourself is to go and date actresses and turn up to the opening of an envelope. I like to keep it pretty quiet and keep my head down and just work.
But you are always rumoured to be dating famous actresses.
Am I? Who?
You were rumoured to be dating Isabel Lucas.
I don't know [about that]. I do know one thing: it's best not to read the internet.
Do you watch your movies?
Yes, I probably watch each movie twice and the second time I can be a bit more objective about it and appreciate it more for its filmmaking aspects.
Do you ever look at your old work and think, ''That's so embarrassing''?
Yes, I look at my current work and think that! Everything is a learning process: any time you fall over, it's just teaching you to stand up the next time. You have to take all that in your stride and you can cringe but it's funny.
What is the main difference between working on a film such as Fighting Fear and a big Hollywood blockbuster?
Well, it's a short time spent in a studio. The narrator of a documentary often comes in at the last minute and takes some of the glory they don't deserve.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
Warrior was definitely one of the more challenging things I've ever done and one of the films I'm most proud of. But, on a local front, making The Square with my brother [Nash] was such a great thing for us because we created it [together] and it was one of the first grown-up filmmaking processes we had been through together.
Do you ever do any of the martial arts moves you learnt in Warrior?
No, unless I end up in a skirmish with someone's kids who decide they can have a go at [my character] Brendan Conlon. It's interesting when you're in a fight movie because people always tell you that one day someone will come up to you on the street and beat the crap out of you. I can only hope they will attack me in the exact way my character was attacked in the movie and then I might have some memory of it and I might be able to choke them out.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
In jail or in the ground. Or maybe living in Bali and still making movies.
WE WENT TO Bar Coluzzi, Darlinghurst.
WE DRANK a cappuccino and a latte.
JOEL WORE Bassike T-shirt, Lee shirt, Diesel jeans and Blundstone shoes.