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‘No matter how much I travel, there's something about coming back to Sydney.’

Gems in this
story

Photo>>>Nash Edgerton

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Gems in
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Feature by Interview: Michael Canning; Words: Pete Kempshall

Growing up in Dural, northwest Sydney, Nash Edgerton would fool around with a video camera in his garden to pass the time, not thinking he’d eventually make a highly accomplished international career of it.

After taking a punt on a career as a stuntman, and working alongside his actor brother Joel, he soon found himself working not just in stunts but acting, directing and writing too. With an international list of credits in movies, TV, music videos and commercials (think stunting for Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, and directing on Netflix’s Bodkin), Nash moves between Sydney — where he co-founded Blue-Tongue Films — and Los Angeles. Thanks to the pandemic, he found himself living full time in Sydney, but didn’t let this slow him down one bit. Instead, Nash knuckled down and explored the city anew, reopening his eyes to Sydney’s unwavering charm. Fresh from directing TV series Mr Inbetween, and writing and directing the short film Shark, Nash chats to us about his path into the movie industry, splitting time between Sydney and LA, and his Sydney Travel Playbook.

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On deciding on a career in film

My dad bought a video camera at some point, and my brother and I'd play with that in the backyard. We were never thinking of it as a profession, it was just something to kick around on the weekends. Then I left school and did electrical engineering at the Uni of New South Wales. I only lasted a year, because I got this idea that maybe I should be a stuntman. I went to this girl's high school formal and a kid sitting at the table was telling a story, and he said the word ‘stunt’. And there was a light bulb moment: I'm gonna be a stuntman.

On talking your way into the stunt industry

Instead of studying for my physics exam, I went home and looked up ‘stunt’ in the phone book. I found this number for an agency that represented stunt people, and first thing Monday, I called them saying, ‘How do I get into this?’ The lady was friendly, but was trying to talk me out of it, telling me how hard it was to get into. But I already made up my mind, so she said, ‘Write a letter about your background, and the sports you play’. I drove to the office and knocked on her door and was like, ‘Hey, I'm the kid who called yesterday, here's my letter and my background’. I basically called her every week.

On the fear factor of stunt work

When you're young, you think you're invincible. You definitely get scared, but I've always been good at overcoming that fear and having an awareness of what I'm physically capable of. But you’re not really thinking about the worst thing that can happen. I’d be more scared of fucking up in front of everyone than I was of getting hurt.

Procrastinating from a pending physics exam at university, paired with a chance encounter at a party, led Nash Edgerton down the pathway of discovering a career in stunt work. With an invincible frame of mind, Nash pushed his foot in the slightly ajar door, doggedly chasing opportunities while training in his own time. Images courtesy of Nash Edgerton.

On making your own opportunities

I saw people had showreels, and it was the same for stunt performers — obviously you had to have a showreel to get jobs, but I needed jobs to have material. I got this idea that if I shot some scenes, people would think I've worked on a movie. There was a stunt guy I'd met, Tony Lynch, and he'd been doing stunts for maybe five years. He had a video camera, so we would go out, train and film ourselves. My brother by this stage had left high school and gone to drama school at Nepean, and he was in the same boat. We set about making something a bit longer; my brother got another kid from his drama school, Kieran Darcy-Smith, and we had this whole action sequence with me and Tony, then acting stuff with the four of us.

On taking the film to festivals

Kieran entered us in the Bathurst Film Festival. We met other filmmakers and won a prize or two. We entered more film festivals, met other filmmakers and got a bit of a taste for it. The short film was called Loaded and it played at Flickerfest. Some director saw it and asked Kieran and I to play a couple of young punks on this TV show on the ABC with Garry McDonald called Fallen Angels. It was just one episode, but we were like, ‘Oh, wow, this thing we made got us a job’. 

‘Instead of studying for my physics exam, I went home and looked up ‘stunt’ in the phone book.’

On the beginning of Blue-Tongue Films

Kieran and Joel started writing this film that was half an hour long. Loaded was like nine minutes and cost us a few hundred bucks to make. Most of that we spent on fixing things, like we broke the windscreen on my car — one of the first awards we won for Loaded at Flickerfest was Most Resourceful Production. So we thought, if the 10-minute film cost us a few hundred, a half-hour film is gonna cost us $1,000. We put $250 each into an account. We had to give the bank account a name so we called it Blue-Tongue Films. The film, of course, cost us way more than $1,000 because it was quite ambitious and we broke lots of things. By the end of the summer we'd spent $10,000 on our credit cards, and we'd only shot half the film.

On moving to the US

Loaded got invited to screen at this festival in LA in 1999. The lady who organized it flew a bunch of us over. But it wasn't until 2009 that I went to LA with a visa to work there. By then I'd worked on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones as Ewan McGregor’s stunt double; one of the guys working on that film was Spencer Susser. My brother and I became friends with him, and we'd go to LA and stay with him, and he became part of Blue-Tongue Films.

Nash paved his way into Hollywood first as a stuntman, then acting and directing. He’s worked alongside film greats including Natalie Portman in Miss Dior shorts, Denzel Washington in The Equalizer and Rose Byrne in Shark. With his brother Joel and their industry friends Kieran Darcy-Smith and Luke Doolan, Blue-Tongue Films was established. From Animal Kingdom to Gringo, the team have worked on a variety of large productions since their beginnings in 1996. Images courtesy of Nash Edgerton.

On your relationship with LA

LA I really enjoy — I love that people come from all over to work in the film industry. I have a lot of friends there, a lot of Australians. It took a little while to get used to but I spent a lot of years living there, so it's like my second home now. I always feel a sense of excitement when I show up because there's a lot of possibilities. It's very much a ‘yes’ town; you have an idea or something you want to talk about, and people are very supportive and encouraging.

On your recent projects

I was making Mr Inbetween for FX and I came back to Sydney from LA to do the second season. We stuck around Sydney and another job got pushed, and I stayed here and started working on a third season. Most recently, I did Shark, and I did a music video for the Hilltop Hoods, for their new single ‘Show Business’, which was super fun. They're lovely guys, and I really resonate with the song because it's about working in show business for a long time and the highs and lows of it. I've got a handful of different things in development, and I'm about to go to Ireland to work on a show.

‘When I want to clear my head, I go and jump in the ocean, just bob about without any devices.’

On how travel inspires you creatively

It's always great to go to a new place or meet people in another city; see art in another city, hear different music, watch films. Any of that stuff is definitely inspiring. And the great thing about working in entertainment is you're always meeting new people and having different experiences. I think it all feeds into your creativity in general. You can't help but absorb those experiences and make them part of what you're creating.

On where you find creative inspiration in Sydney

You find inspiration anywhere; ideas come when you zone out. When I want to clear my head, I go and jump in the ocean, just bob about without any devices. You can drown out the sound and go underwater or just float. Or I go for a walk along the cliffs to get out in the fresh air. I go down to Clovelly and walk in either direction — whether you go towards Coogee and Maroubra or Tamarama and Bondi, it's always different, depending on the time of the day and the weather. It's such a beautiful part of Sydney.

Nash always finds his way back to Sydney. With a plethora of ocean access, Nash finds Sydney beaches the best for finding moments of inspiration. One of his favorites is the ocean pool at Maroubra, followed by a hike along the Hermitage Walk. Images courtesy of Mark Clinton, Hamilton Lund for second left, third and fourth left, Anna Kucera for second right and final right by Paul McMillan.

On connecting with the culture in Sydney

There's always something happening if you want to connect to the arts in some way. It's one of the great things about the city. There’s so many different cultural festivals — there’s the Sydney Comedy Festival, Vivid or the Sydney Film Festival. There’s the Writers’ Festival and the Archibald at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

On your relationship with Sydney

No matter how much I travel, there's something about coming back here; it just feels like home. I very much appreciated Sydney during the pandemic. Australians would generally be quite rebellious, but also compliant; it felt like everyone followed whatever rules we were given, and it made it somewhat harmonious and enjoyable despite what was going on.

‘There's always something happening if you want to connect to the arts in some way. It's one of the great things about the city.’

On spending a great day in Sydney

I always suggest people do the cliff walks, anywhere between Bondi and Maroubra. Along the coast there, no matter whether it's summer or winter, it's beautiful. Sydney is an amazing city, in that you can be in the city and then be at the beach within 15 minutes. And the beaches are beautiful and clean — I can't think of many cities with that proximity, and beaches to that level. That's one thing I miss when I'm in LA: proximity to beaches. As much as there are beaches in LA, they're not the same. The parks here are great, and the food's really good, and if you want to drive out of the city and go into the mountains, that doesn't take long either. It's kind of a bit of everything. And Sydney is very much a walking city. When you walk in LA, people look at you like you're a weirdo. New York obviously, is a great city to walk around, but in Sydney, I really like walking.

On the best places to eat

Pino’s Vino e Cucina in Alexandria is a great Italian restaurant. When I was living in Darlinghurst, Thai Nesia was my spot to get Thai food. There's so much great Thai in Sydney — there's another one, Chim Chim in Randwick. I'm big on Asian food. One thing I missed in LA is I didn't find lots of great Thai options. You had to really hunt for it. Whereas I feel like every suburb in the greater part of Sydney has a good Thai restaurant, or multiple good Thai restaurants. And then there's so many good joints for breakfast. In Darlinghurst, I'd always go to Bootsdarling. Now I'm living over Randwick way, I still venture over there when I can. In Clovelly, A Man and his Monkey is really great.

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Nash’s Sydney Travel Playbook includes some of his favorite spots to grab a bite around the city. From local brunch spots such as Bootsdarling (pictured top, courtesy of Bootsdarling) and A Man and his Monkey (pictured second row, courtesy of A Man and his Monkey), to cozy Italian eatery Pino’s Vino e Cucina (pictured third and fourth rows, courtesy of Pino’s Vino e Cucina), Nash’s Travel Gems will carry you through from day to night.

On local art

There’s the Art Gallery of New South Wales, or the MCA down near Circular Quay, but there's a lot of good little galleries around Sydney too. Again, that's the beautiful thing about walking Sydney; you just walk around Paddington and Darlinghurst and walk past them.

On a good place to start exploring Sydney

Anywhere from Surry Hills or Darlinghurst is great. If you're walking down Crown Street from Redfern or Surry Hills, you’ll get to Oxford Street and you can either go into the city or up towards Paddington. You could continue all the way to Bondi Beach if you wanted. There's so many great places around Paddington, if you go along Oxford Street and then down all those lanes — same in Surry Hills going down Crown Street, if you want to go from there through Hyde Park into the city.

On a ‘hidden gem’ in Sydney

The Hermitage Walk for me. I'd been down to Milk Beach but I hadn't done Hermitage Walk until the lockdown. It’s really quite special.

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‘There’s something about landing back in Sydney that feels special, even if it's a short trip. It feels very comforting.’

On window or aisle seat

Depends on the length of the flight. If it's a short flight, I'm happy to have a window. If it's long, I like the aisle. Not that I get up a lot, but I don't like the idea of having to climb over people when they're asleep or wake them up. Subsequently, you end up being the person getting woken up all the time.

On a song that best represents Sydney for you

I don't know! I mean, I love music, lots of different sorts of music, but I think it all depends on where your head's at, what speaks to you at the time. If I had to listen to anything, anytime, I'd probably put on The Cure, because there's a kind of fun but there’s a darkness to it at the same time that I really appreciate and that sort of taps into me.

On Sydney in one word

Home. 


Home, for sure, especially when you travel a lot. There’s something about landing back in Sydney that feels special, even if it's a short trip. It feels very comforting. I love so many other cities but there's something about Sydney that feels special. You come home and you go, ‘OK, gotta go jump in the ocean and reconnect’.


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