The Terminal List Star Jai Courtney Is More Than Happy To Play Villains [Interview]

You play this guy as pretty calm and cool for an antagonist. Not too many eccentricities.

I know what you mean. I think one of the things that I enjoy most about approaching a role like this is trying to find a way to make him a little more enjoyable for audiences. It’s a funny thing with a character like Horn, without hanging myself on the hook too much with giving stuff away, he kind of does weave himself into the story as somewhat of a polarizing figure, but he wouldn’t see himself that way. I feel like there’s a clue in that, in how to play something like this. He’s responsible for some really interesting stuff, where someone else might have a conscience or some moral code that might break. Looking at those facts, you’ve got to wonder where to place a dude like this.

I just try and have fun with it and hope that audiences do as well. I think for me, when things are reduced to sort of two dimensions and it all gets very predictably nasty or villainous or whatever, it’s not as fun to jam with as an actor. It just robs you of the opportunity to create something later on that people will experience as well.

I kind of try to, with roles like this, never judge them too harshly, even for things I wouldn’t necessarily agree with. You try and find a way in through humanizing that on some level. Hopefully, that creates something that people want to spend a little more time with when they’re watching the film or the show.

A lot of actors say that a lot, to never judge. But you judge them sometimes, right?

Oh, for sure. For sure. I mean, I think that’s an old acting thing of not going in like that, because you’ll rob yourself of the chance to empathize with it and therefore uncover more. I mean, look, sometimes you get a line of dialogue and you’re like, you don’t even want to say that sh*t out loud, but you got to also be in service to the material and we’re trying to put good drama on screen, good comedy, whatever it is, and that’s our art form. So, you can’t go around playing characters that everyone loves all the time. There’s no fun in that.

When your character is introduced on his lunch break and in a tactical training exercise, what did that tell you?

Horn is this kind of kingpin, billionaire, head of a highly successful investment firm that have their kind of finger in all these pies and from like pharmaceuticals and fashion. We meet him at a time where it’s all about military trends and innovations. He’s like one of these dudes who’s part tech bro, part wannabe weekend warrior, ultra-rich guy.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing veterans from all different branches of the community. We kind of serve to give that a lot of authenticity within the show. There’s a lot of former SEALs and operators and Marines on the screen as well as who collaborated in the production of making it. But in saying that, it’s interesting because like these guys are super legit and I thought it was really fun to engage with a role with a guy who really wants to be that, but knows he never will. It’s almost like he could have gone down that path. He kind of idolizes that culture, but he went into investment banking and went down a totally different route. It’s really fun to look at as an actor because I have seen it in the real world as well. I get it. So to be able to put that on screen with a character who’s got the budget to support it and has his own little kind of paramilitary sort of security force, it was a lot of fun.

Were there any tech billionaires you were influenced by?

Not really. I couldn’t really find anyone that fit his mold. There were a few people around that I kicked about some articles. I mean, I would love to know what some of these guys get up to in their spare time. I bet you there’s some examples that don’t fall too far from the tree of Steve Horn. That’s for sure.

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