Alex Russell Interview.
Australian Alex Russell was destined for big things the day Wasted on the Young was released in 2010. He is now part of the cast in Goldstone, opening film for Sydney Film Festival 2016. Fast becoming a Hollywood player in between, he remains grounded, passionate towards films and filmmaking including being part of production company Five Lip.
Shane A. Bassett – What does it mean to you Goldstone is having a World Premiere opening Sydney Film Festival?
Alex Russell – Back in 2010 (I think), my first movie Wasted on the Young screened at the festival and I was invited to attend. It was such a massive deal for me, my first premiere really coming from drama school. It was such an exciting time to be part of it and loved it ever since. When I found out we were opening with Goldstone, I was so happy. I will be there in spirit, not in person unfortunately. It’s such an awesome festival. Humbly proud of Goldstone.
SAB – What can you tell me about your character Josh?
AR – Complex individual, when you meet him he’s not really a bad person although you may question if he’s bad due to elements where he goes. Sadly for Josh, he goes with the flow without much of an idea of the environment around him. When you meet Josh, there is a weakness to his character initially, he’s got a good heart but it takes specific challenges to provide him with the fork in the road he needs, which way that goes I’ll let audiences find out. Every piece of action in this movie is earned and audiences won’t be disappointed.
SAB – Ivan Sen makes unique stories.
AR – Such a wonderful filmmaker, true genius, i don’t say that lightly. You need to respect the native people on the land, be curious and love them. We have had a lot of films celebrating indigenous stories. What I specifically like about Ivan, he does different things. Watching this or Mystery Road (2013), Aaron is such a hero that people look up to, same thing in this film. Ivan breaks barriers, creates a solid character where a young Aboriginal boy (or girl) can look up and see Aaron Pedersen and be inspired to be like that. Lovers of drama will love the conflict and grit, one of the best screenplays I have ever read in my career.
SAB – What was it like working with such an eclectic Australian cast?
AR – A regular who’s who filtering in and out. It was an honour to work with them all, Aaron Pedersen and Ivan were with me the whole journey, spiritually I grew. Then you had the Australian industry all stars visiting, one week Jackie Weaver, she’d overlap with David Wenham until he left for a while to go shoot some more Pirates of the Carribbean then come back before Max Cullen arrived. When I stepped out of my beloved shipping container accommodation one morning opening the glass door shooing flies away, I looked out noticing on walkabout out into the horizon David Gulpilill in full cowboy outfit. I loved him and working with Tommy Lewis too, beautiful souls.
SAB – Short films also feature heavily in the Sydney Film Festival, something you also continue to do.
AR – One of the benefits of an artist, it can help you develop when involved in projects that feel more experimental. Working with artists who you have worked with for a long time creates a specific environment. It’s important to be challenged outside of comfort zones. Oranges Don’t Grow on Trees is my latest short. The wonderful Sarah Snook and I were the two youngest in our year at drama school, I’m stoked all these years on we are finding time to still create art together around our schedules. It’s our second time working together with the same director. Snooky is our resident movie star (laughs).
SAB – Your production company Five Lip is going strong with Oranges Don’t Grow on Trees after two previous successful shorts.
AR – Yes thanks Shane, we screened Oranges at the St. Kilda Film Festival with audiences really responsive. We have an amazing team all working together on the same page but brining unique ideas to the table.
SAB – Did Wasted on the Young get you the role in Chronicle?
AR – It was there as reference but still had ten hours of auditioning to get that job.
SAB – What are your memories of shooting Carrie?
AR – Awesome, I love the city of Toronto where we made it. The production was incredible in size and environment, loved shaving my head getting tattoos. I love playing that type of role of an angry young man.
SAB – You have been in North Queensland recently shooting Jungle with Daniel Radcliffe.
AR – Director Greg McLean made Wolf Creek of course and the tight suspense he’s known for carries over into this film with even more adventurous survival themes. A German, a Swiss, an Israeli, and an American walk into the jungle (it sounds like a joke) but that’s what it is about because they are stuck and turn on each other. It will be entertaining action with twists. Daniel is a level-headed guy for someone who has grown up in the position he’s had so young. I respect him as an artist working really hard bringing 100% everyday on set. His Israeli accent was spot on. We also shot parts in Columbia and we were soaked in river rapids for days.
SAB – You have a new major project called No Exit.
AR – Yes with Miles Teller, Josh Brolin. An awesome situation I am going to just jump in, based on a true story of heroic firefighters. Largely a film about brotherhood and sacrifice for the job commitment to common good but can’t say much more.
SAB – Balancing Hollywood and local projects have always been important to you.
AR – It is, but I go with the projects that interest me creatively but love working at home, it’s a bonus.
Shane A. Bassett