Interview Excerpt with Joel Edgerton

Writer, Director, Actor, ďThe GiftĒ

Dallas, Texas, July 15, 2015


Joel Edgerton:  I didnít want to just make this a revenge movie; the character of Gordo (Edgerton) is not just about ďan eye for an eye,Ē like the Old Testament.  (Deuteronomy 19:21, but also Matthew 5:38.) Itís more complex than that.  Gordo was really willing to let bygones be bygones, if Simon (Jason Bateman) had in any sincere sense been willing to apologize.  But he wasnít.  And so Gordo couldnít extend the forgiveness he was offering, either.  And thatís not necessarily religious; itís simply human.

FaithinFilms:  Well, since you brought up the Old Testament, Iím curious about moral foundations, if they arenít religious, and certainly arenít biblical.  How do you see the moral foundation for your three primary characters?

JE:  Simonís whole orientation is capitalism.  He feels like there are winners and losers in the world, and he intends to be a winner, and he even quotes his Dad as his reference point.  Of course the fact that he has a mean and deceitful streak in him just makes his selfishness that much worse, but heís articulate enough, with the gift of gab, to just be able to get this far, off his good looks and charm.  He also just wants to close off anything in his past that heís not proud of; rather than revisit and re-evaluate in any way.

(FaithinFilms thinks:  Heís not the first to stumble over unwillingness to repent. Matthew 23:33)

JE:  Robyn (Rebecca Hall) is the character whoís willing to accept other people at face value, and empathize with them.  Yes, sheís the nice person, but sheís consistent about it; sheís just a sweetheart, as well as a beauty.  But she can be manipulated, at least for a while, by somebody she wants to believe is good, like her, but she subsequently discovers the deceptions and the cruelty, and she just doesnít want to be part of it.

(FaithinFilms thinks, but doesnít want to interrupt:  blessed are the pure in heart.  Matthew 5:8)

JE:  Gordo is the kind of guy whoís really paid a price in his life for cruelty at the hands of someone else.  I wanted to approach this subject as a thriller, because the documentary about bullying has been done.  But I was interested in what happens 20, 25 years later, when the two accidentally meet again.  What happens now?  And though the focal point is between the two of them, Robynís insertion into the mix kind of sharpens the focus, and gives each of the other characters a different flavor for their own incentives. The past isnít just in the past; it affects the present, as well, and can very much affect the future.

FaithinFilms:  I appreciate your thoughtful response.

JE:  Thanks very much!


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman, Texas