We, as a society, take Joel Edgerton for granted. When has anyone ever said, “Joel Edgerton was bad.” That never happens. he always delivers and we don’t acknowledge that enough. Which leads to another point: C’mon, stop making Joel Edgerton sign pictures of himself as Uncle Owen from Attack of the Clones. As he states ahead, he’s happy to do it, but it’s always Uncle Owen. Think how happy he’d be to see a picture of himself from, say, Warrior?
Edgerton is currently starring in Jeff Nichols’ Loving (it’s always nice to talk to someone in a movie that’s already out, because you can see it right now if you want, and you should), the real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving (played by Edgerton and Ruth Negga) whose 1967 Supreme Court Case made interracial marriage legal in every state. (And what’s crazy about this is that 1967 wasn’t really that long ago.) Edgerton and Negga add nuance to Richard and Mildred who, more than anything, just want to be married and be left alone. And ahead, Edgerton explains why Loving is an even more important story in today’s political climate.
This is rare, we are talking about a movie already in theaters. People can see it right now.
Yeah, it’s quite rare, actually. Normally you get to talk about them a lot before they come out, so I keep forgetting it’s already at the cinema.
I saw Loving is September and remember thinking that it’s such an important story. Due to recent events, it feels even more important. Or am I overreacting?
Well, no. I mean, one of the interesting things, Jeff decided to focus on the people at the center of this court case rather than the court case itself.
Right. We don’t even see the court proceedings.
No, and that means it was a very kind of personal exploration of their lives and that situation rather than a big courtroom drama. But when you look at that case, that decision by the Supreme Court was a unanimous decision.
That doesn’t happen much anymore.
Well, no, it doesn’t really. And the chances of it happening in the near future, depending on what happens, is also under question. But, interestingly enough, when you look at Richard and Mildred’s case, you think that back in that time in 1967 there was obviously a complete unanimous willingness on the behalf of the Supreme Court to make that change. And I guess now, more than ever, it’s just a question of how much ground have we made on certain aspects or topics and things that are relevant to us in terms of our freedoms. You know, how much ground have you made and how can you hold onto that ground without losing it. And the fear is that you’ll always slip back to a place that’s less progressive, and I think that’s what feels in the atmosphere right now.
And that the Supreme Court made this decision in 1967, that wasn’t that long ago.
Yeah. But then again, I think it was like four months ago a guy walked up to an interracial couple at a bar and called out some racial abuse and then stabbed the guy.
And there’s been an uptick recently.
And I mean that’s not the ’50s or the ’60s. It’s not even the ’90s. I mean, it’s like a few months ago. Look, it was interesting going to Virginia, to Richmond, and realizing that a lot of the architecture and streets and all that just looked the same. The courthouse is still there. And in some way, that made the whole thing feel like it really wasn’t that long ago. And on sort of a social fabric level and on a ethical level and on a progression level, it’s definitely not a movie about 50 or 60 years ago: it’s a movie about all the time.
Those same problems just keep swirling around. A lot of people say right now that the movie is more relevant. It’s very particularly relevant to this year and it’s like none of those problems ever go away. It just depends on how newsworthy they are at the moment. And, right now, it’s a very particular kind of spike of stories that surround racial inequality. And particularly in this country, that stuff is very hot conversation. It’s very loud, intense stuff that’s going on.