Hot off a supporting role in The Little Things opposite Denzel Washington and Rami Malek, and after receiving a Best Supporting Actor Award at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival for East of Middle West, Joris Jarsky can now be seen alongside Thandiwe Newton in Julian Higgins’ profound and stirring feature debut, God’s Country.
Below we spoke to the Canadian actor about his latest role.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Downtown Toronto in a neighborhood called Parkdale. It’s one the most multicultural neighborhoods in the world. Home to the largest Tibetan community living outside of Tibet. For the first 7 years of my life, my family shared a large Victorian home with other like-minded lefties. My father, a lifetime social activist, filled the house with semi grumpy communists, comfortable-shoe-wearing philosophers, long-winded conversationalists, rebel Catholics, hot tempered vegetarians, and men who wore corduroy and the women who loved them. Basically, the people who think they invented potlucks.
As a little boy it didn’t take me long to realize that my home life was a little different from other kids. To start with, none of them had a small Chicken and rabbit farm in their back yard in downtown Toronto. We had a big garden with lots of vegetables. We were “living off the land”. My mom made granola and bread from scratch. As I look back now it seems like she made everything from scratch. Seven years ago, I bought my family home, converted it into 4 apartments and turned my dad’s workshop in the backyard into my tiny home which I now live in.
Tell us about God’s Country.
Gods Country is neo western thriller directed by Julian Higgins and featuring a truly incredible performance by Thandiwe Newton. I’ve been at this game for a while and I’m grateful to have made a good living doing what I love but being a part of this film has been the highlight of my career. The entire experience from the audition to this moment right now has been an absolute joy.
What drew you to the role?
As soon as I read the script, I knew I had to do it. I basically begged them to give me the part. Nathan’s a guy who’s never been given the chance to be who he really is. I think all of us on some level understand what that feels like. Who we are verses who we were raised to be. Our parents, the environment in which we grew up in, verses what’s in our hearts. He’s caught between what’s expected of him and what he really wants. It was exciting to play someone stuck inside this battle. Also, I got to grow a huge beard and pack on 30 lbs. of beef and muscle. Which meant I ate everything. Every Thing. Fun job!
This was Julian Higgins first feature. Did that give you any pause?
Not really. He’s a grad of AFI and he’d already had some major success with his short films. Plus, once they finally agreed to have a meeting with me and we got into the nitty gritty of things, I knew I was in good hands. He’s brilliant. He’s going to have an amazing career.
What has been your favorite part of working on God’s Country?
You dream of getting to work with people as talented as Thandiwe, Julian, Jeremey Bobb, Jefferson White, Kai Lennox and our incredible DP Andrew Wheeler. But to have them all in one project. No egos. Total generosity. It was a good reminder of why I want to do this. Oh, and saving Milkshake, the bay steer. There was a bull living in the front yard of an elderly couples home up the road from where I was staying. We became really good pals, so I started a GofundMe along with one of the producers, Haller Bernard. We bought him from the couple and now he’s living in a large sanctuary in Colorado.
What was the most challenging part?
Keeping the weight for a year until we went back to work after getting shut down because of the Pandemic. Turns out being a beefcake fulltime isn’t easy.
Do you have any hobbies that help keep you sane?
I love to working on my home that I built. I’m a big do-it-yourselfer. I make a lot of mistakes but so far, I still have all my digits and limbs so it ain’t all bad.
Who in your industry is your role model and why?
I worked with Mark Rufflalo and he’s one of the most genuine, loving and caring people I’ve ever met. The guy will give his time to anybody. Not kidding. You have to drag him away ‘cause it’s been 45 minutes and he’s now best friends with some dude he’s just met walking down the street. There is nothing “movie star” about him at all and it’s not because he’s trying to be that way, he just is. A great leader.
CHECK OUT JORIS
In the Apple TV+ horror fantasy The Changeling
As Nathan Cody in God’s Country
As Detective Sergeant Rogers in John Lee Hancock’s The Little Things