Do you remember that kid in school that always used to get picked on? Maybe you were that kid or maybe you were the one doing the picking, but that's the general premise behind Australian actor Joel Edgerton's directorial debut "The Gift," starring Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall as Simon and Robyn, a young couple moving into a new home who are plagued by a high school acquaintance nicknamed "Gordo."
Edgerton previously co-wrote his brother Nash's film "The Square" and the crime drama "Felony," but "The Gift" puts Edgerton fully in the role of a multi-hyphenate as he wrote, directed, produced and acted in the movie, playing Gordo.
"The first idea of the movie was the terrifying concept of being twenty-something years out of high school and have that tap on the shoulder from someone who you vaguely remember, saying 'I think we went to school together," Edgerton told amNewYork. "The terrifying possibilities of that person getting the tap not being such a great person in high school -- I love the idea of stories that resonate of bullying but to tell that story 25 years after the fact is a really exciting idea, because it allowed me to throw out these ideas that I've had for a long time about how little or how much people are capable of changing."
And the film marked a big change for Edgerton, deciding to take the plunge into the world of directing.
"Given that my first directing project no one's going to throw a lot of money at me, it was a good first step in terms of it being contained with not too many locations or characters, which I felt was a genre movie but really a character piece," he said.
what Edgerton is clear about, is that he didn't make a "message movie."
"I made a very dark story that's not an essay on bullying and I'd never profess to be trying to teach anything about bullying," he said. "But it does resonate and I hope that out of this darkness, it forces people to ruminate on what roles they played at school and whether they've changed."
Edgerton already has plenty of experience playing bad guys most notably in Ridley Scott's "Exodus" and Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," but Gordo is a different type of antagonist for the actor.
"The desire for me to play a character that was overbearing, socially awkward, slightly dangerous but also misunderstood, that to me was an exciting character that no one had asked me to do," he said.
He also has good things to say about Bateman, who recently made his own directorial debut with "Bad Words" and is playing out of his normal comedy comfort zone for "The Gift."
"His ability as a straight man in a comedy is that he's a straight guy who can also get a laugh because he has this ability to perfectly comment with his expression by just listening and reacting in a way that hits the exact thoughts of the audience," Edgerton said about his co-star. "Then he throws in this acerbic asides, things that occasionally make him feel like the smartest guy in the room."