Born in Winton, Queensland, Jason Clarke’s career path to the Hollywood big time was not dissimilar to some of his compatriots, having started out in locally produced TV dramas like Blue Heelers, All Saints, and of course Home and Away.
Following his role as a CIA intelligence officer in Kathryn Bigelow’s acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty (2012), we began to see a lot more of this unassuming Aussie actor on the big screen in films like White House Down (2013), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), Terminator Genisys (2015), Everest 2015), Winchester (2018) and First Man (2018).
Described by his Apes director, Matt Reeves, as the kind of character actor who disappears into roles, that could be the reason why Clarke still manages to fly under the superstar radar and maintain a “that guy” status – which is just the way he likes it.
This month, two of the versatile actor’s most recent films are hitting home entertainment: Pet Sematary (2019), an all new adaptation of Stephen King’s chilling novel, and the post-WWII romance The Aftermath (2019), based on the 2013 best-seller by Rhidian Brooks.
In Pet Sematary, Clarke plays Louis Creed, a doctor and family man who crosses the barrier between life and death and pays a horrific price. The actor considers the book to be one of his favourite King novels, and didn’t have a problem with the new film’s radical plot change (neither did King), which led to a fan backlash.
“It’s a great meditation on being human, on what we are as people, on what we are as a family, what these things mean to us and the depths we would go to,” he told Newsweek.
While the two films couldn’t be more different, Clarke sees The Aftermath as another meditation on being human. Playing a British army colonel who is reunited with his wife (Keira Knightley) in war-torn Hamburg, the actor possessed the alpha-male qualities required for the character.
“He’s a bit of a war hero. So, it was important that Jason had that authority but also with a gentle interior because you need to know that he loves [his wife],” says director James Kent. “Jason worked so brilliantly on that – this strong, rather traumatised man whose civility has been ruptured by the violence he’s experienced and has to somehow accommodate this woman who’s come back into his life who has no knowledge of his war.”
Clarke will next be seen in the HBO series Catherine the Great, which reunites him with Winchester star Helen Mirren, and has just completed the ensemble thriller The Devil All the Time (due 2020).