Nathan Jones is an actor, powerlifting champion, and professional wrestler. He is a living legend best recognized for his time spent with the WWE and as a movie star in the critically acclaimed Mad Max series. We spoke with him about his work in the film industry and how he got his start in the world of entertainment.
We first and foremost view you as a highly motivated individual who thrives when given the freedom to work in your own way. Can you tell us about your time in WWE and how you got
interested in the entertainment business?
Firstly, hello to all, and thank you for having me as a guest on board. What's interesting is that I'm naturally shy, so the entertainment industry wasn't my first choice. Over time, I overcame my shyness..and it was people who kept asking and telling me that they thought I'd be great in acting and entertainment, wrestling or a professional sport of some sort. I kept brushing the idea off, but the thought was implanted in the background. Then one day I happened to be watching wrestling on T.V. (since it was getting popular again in Australia), I decided I could give it a go.
Before getting involved in wrestling, I had competed in the World's Strongest Man competitions. I won the Highland Games World Strongest Man in 1995 or '96, and when I came back to Australia, the 'Good Morning Australia' show contacted me to do a stunt gig for them live on television. My boss, at the time, suggested it would be good publicity for his business. I ended up picking up one of his trucks (a Ford UTE) by the back end, and walked it 30 meters down the street. Martial arts movie star Jackie Chan was on the Gold Coast in Australia filming "First Strike". He'd seen me, and wanted me in his next movie..and you can say that's my start into the acting/film world. Wrestling came a bit later afterwards. So with some effort and luck, or a combination of both, my start towards my entertainment career began. I enjoyed my time in professional wrestling, but it's like a rockstar's lifestyle, and I'm a homebody. What kept me going for a while was the rigorous training, creative collaborations for my wrestling profile, and the positive feedback from my colleagues and fans at the time.
In addition to Mad Max, in which you made a lasting impression as Rictus Erectus, you also
starred in other major action films like Conan the Barbarian and Troy. To what do you attribute your interest in playing action and adventure characters?
Yes, thank you for noticing! Well, as you can see of the obvious, my physicality, natural athleticism, and strength in size helps in landing those roles of menacing, intimidating characters I play. I certainly believe in type-casting, and having the audience to trust in what they're watching. My past endeavours in training for Strongman competitions eventually led down the path to professional wrestling with the WWE and Japanese Wrestling Federation, 01. In fact, an interesting scenario that happened, which involved both acting and wrestling, was when they were auditioning for the role of Boagrius in the film "Troy" starring Brad Pitt. First, they casted and looked at hundreds of actors all over the world. Then someone suggested casting pro-wrestlers for it. The WWE was pushing some of their popular, top wrestlers to try for the part. Landing the role was both humbling and thrilling at the same time. I found out later that they searched through the stable of wrestlers, and none of them came across for them. Some were overacting, pulling funny faces, and looked "ridiculous" they said. They wanted a serious actor, and it wasn't easy finding their match.
Which role in your career has been your favorite thus far, and why?
My favourite I can say that tops my list, is playing the role of Rictus Erectus in "Mad Max: Fury Road". Not only has the movie put me on a world-wide map, playing the lead character pushed my acting skills onto a whole new level. Prior, I had just supporting or co-lead action roles with little or no dialogue. My wife still reminds me when I told her about the time when director George Miller wrote in my character for Rictus Erectus, and gave me more dialogue. I sortof anxiously told him "..sorry George, I don't do lines..", and his calm response to me was something like "it's alright, you'll be fine..I have faith in you.." -- and the pressure was on!
Is there anything you can tell fans or audiences about the upcoming highly anticipated prequel to Max Max?
I wish I could, but didn't get the green light to, unfortunately. But I think it's safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed working on "Mad Max: Furiosa". Getting the chance to work again with one of my favourite directors, George Miller, whom I have absolute high regards for. He's like a father to me, as well as a good friend and mentor. To working with talented cast and crew, whom were all professional and friendly. I was also fortunate, and managed to get my son onto the set to play a role as a war pup. It helps to have some influence in connecting with the right people in the business sometimes. I remember when George asked me if my son was really big or something, because they had to double him with a 9-year-old, and he was only 6 at the time. Maybe you can spot him out when the film is released.
Are there any directors or films in particular that have influenced you throughout your career and why?
I'd like to give my sincere and deepest respect to the late director Wolfgang Peterson, to whom I had the privilege to work with in "Troy". I remember watching his film "Enemy Lines" when I was a kid, and realy enjoyed it. Now that I'm older, and think about it, it was revolutionary. It was basically an anti-war film, and had a humanistic view of the world. After meeting Wolfgang, I realized he wanted to spread good powerful messages to help shape a better world. And as I mentioned before, how they searched high and low for the right actor for the job in "Troy", his vote of confidence coming from him (someone so renowned IMO) was a nice booster in continuing to pursue my goals in the tough acting business.
And then there's George Miller, where I can’t express enough how much I truly love working for him. He is one of the most amazing people I have been fortunate enough to cross paths with. And being in his presence, he just helps bring out the best in you, and makes you want to UP your game to the next level. He does it in a gentle, yet laser-focused fashion.
Before going into film-making, he earned his doctorate degree in medicine. To me personally, he is a down-to-earth humanist with a most creative, brilliant and complex mind, coupled with balance and tremendous focus that’s second to none. He was always on the set the earliest, and left later than most. The die-hard discipline he displayed every single day motivated me to work harder and be more efficient to get as close to perfection as possible. He treated everyone with respect and courtesy on every level. George has a track record of nailing every film genre down-packed, creating diametrically opposing genre movies from "Happy Feet" to "MAD MAX". He respects the intelligence of the audience, and you can see it in every aspect of his film making, right down to every detail. His films also carry powerful messages to make people think in hopes of forging onto a better world.
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