Jason Clarke is an Australian actor, known for often being cast in antagonist roles in feature films. In 1969, Clarke was born in Winton, Queensland, a small town where the main industries are sheep and cattle raising. Winton was established as a township in 1879, but its main claim to fame are a number of dinosaur fossils located within the town's limits.
Clarke was the son of a sheep shearer, bud decided to follow an acting career instead. By 1995, the 26-year-old Clarke had started appearing in small parts in various television series. He then started appearing as an extra in films. His early film appearances included the action comedy "Wanted" (1997), the action film "Dilemma" (1997), and the neo-noir crime drama "Twilight" (1998). Clarke had a more substantial role in the crime comedy "Our Lips are Sealed" (2000), where he played the assassin Mac.
Clarke returned to playing small roles in films such as the period drama "Rabbit-Proof Fence" (2002) and the serial killer-themed black comedy "You Can't Stop the Murders" (2003). Clarke had a breakthrough television role as the co-star of the crime drama television series "Brotherhood" (2006-2008). In the series, Clarke played career politician Tommy Caffee, who has a complex relationship with his brother, the Irish-mob employed gangster Michael Caffee (played by Jason Isaacs). The series was loosely based on the lives of two real-life brothers with different careers, the Democratic politician and academic William Bulger (1934-) and the crime boss Whitey Bulger (1929-2018). The series won much critical praise for Clarke, though some critics disliked its humorless approach to its subject matter.
In 2008, Clarke played the leading role of Howard Ferp in the live-action short film "Hole in the Paper Sky". In the film, Howard is a lonely misanthrope. He finds himself feeling genuine affection for a dog, which is used as a laboratory animal. The short film won awards by the Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival. Also in 2008, Clarke played T. Ulrich, one of the main villains in the action thriller film "Death Race".
In 2009, Clarke portrayed the Canadian gangster John "Red" Hamilton (1899-1934) in the crime drama film "Public Enemies". The film was an adaptation of the non-fiction book "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34", which depicted the lives and deaths of a number of professional criminals during the Great Depression. Clarke next had a small role in the drama film "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" (2010), as the New York Fed Chief. The film was a sequel to the drama film "Wall Street", and depicted the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Clarke also played the role of FBI agent Doug Tate in the thriller film "Trust" (2010), which focused on the relationship between a teenage girl and an online predator.
In 2011, Clarke played the abusive father Gordon O'Hara in the drama film "Yelling to the Sky". In 2011, the film was nominated for the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival, but lost the award to the Iranian drama film "A Separation". Clarke also played the police officer Frank in the neo-noir thriller "Swerve" (2011). Finally, in 2011, Clarke gained another leading role in television. He played the Polish-American homicide detective Jarek Wysocki in the short-lived police procedural series "The Chicago Code" (February-May, 2011). In the series, Jarek is the leader of a special unit of the Chicago Police Department, which investigates political corruption, and the connections between Chigago politicians and organized crime.
In 2012, Clarke played moonshine smuggler Howard Bondurant in the crime-drama film "Lawless". The film was an adaptation of the historical novel "The Wettest County in the World" by Matt Bondurant, and depicts the lives of moonshine smugglers in Virginia from 1931 to 1933. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, but lost the award to the French-language romantic tragedy "Amour".
Also in 2012, Clarke played the role of the CIA intelligence officer Dan in the thriller film "Zero Dark Thirty". The film depicted the then-recent assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (1957-2011) by personnel the United States Navy SEALs. The film earned about 133 million dollars at the worldwide box office. and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Clarke himself was nominated for the "Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor" for his role in the film. But the award for that year was instead won by rival actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014).
In 2013, Clarke played the mechanic George Wilson in the romantic drama "The Great Gatsby", an adaptation of the novel "The Great Gatsby" by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940). Also in 2013, Clarke played the mercenary leader Emil Stenz in the action thriller "White House Down".
In 2014, Clarke played the illiterate farmer and carpenter Thomas Lincoln (1778-1851) in the historical film "The Better Angels". Thomas was the father of politician Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), and the film focuses on the family life of the Lincoln family in Indiana from 1817 to 1821. Clarke also played a prominent role in the science fiction film "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (2014), cast as Malcolm, a human friend of the apes' leader Caesar (played by Andy Serkis).
In 2015, Clarke gained the main cast role of John Connor in the science-fiction film "Terminator Genisys", the fifth film of "The Terminator" franchise. John Connor is the main protagonist of the franchise, and had previously been played (at various ages of his life) by the actors Dalton Abbot, Edward Furlong, Michael Edwards, Nick Stahl, Christian Bale, John De Vito, and Thomas Dekker. The film gained about 441 million dollars at the worldwide box office, becoming the second-most lucrative film in "The Terminator" franchise, following "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991).
Also in 2015, Clarke played the mountaineer Rob Hall (1961-1996) in the biographical film "Everest". The film was based on the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, when 8 mountaineers were killed in a blizzard on Mount Everest. Most of them had successfully climbed on the summit of the mountain, but were caught in the blizzard while attempting to descend from the summit. Hall was the most experienced mountaineer among them, as he had reached the summit of Everest five times (a record for non-Sherpa mountaineers). The film earned abut 203 million dollars at the worldwide box office.
In 2016, Clarke played the ambiguous role of James in the psychological drama "All I See Is You". In 2017, Clarke returned to playing leading roles in historical films. He portrayed Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942), the Director of the Reich Main Security Office (term 1939-1942) in "The Man with the Iron Heart", and Ted Kennedy (1932-2009), the United States Senator from Massachusetts (term 1962-2009) in "Chappaquiddick". The first film focused on "Operation Anthropoid" (1942), the successful assassination of Heydrich by Czechoslovak exiled soldiers, who were trained and equipped by the Special Operations Executive (1940-1946) of the United Kingdom. The second film focuses on the Chappaquiddick incident of 1969, when Kennedy's negligence during and after a single-vehicle car accident caused the death of political campaign specialist Mary Jo Kopechne (1940-1969). Kennedy was driving the vehicle with Kopechne as a passenger. The accident trapped Kopechne inside the submerged vehicle, but Kennedy did not try to help her and only reported the accident to the police 10 hours later. Kennedy received a two-month suspended jail sentence for his role in the incident.
Also in 2017, Clarke played the role of Henry McAllan in the period drama "Mudbound". Henry is depicted as a farmer living in near poverty in Mississippi during the late 1930s and 1940s, while having to care for an aging father who is a bigoted member of the local Ku Klux Klan, and for a war veteran brother who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The film was nominated for a "Satellite Award for Best Film", but the award for that year was instead shared by the films "God's Own Country" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri".
In 2018, Clarke played the supporting role of Dr. Eric Price in the horror film "Winchester". The film presents a fictionalized account of the life of Sarah Winchester (1839-1922), co-owner of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and her survival in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Also in 2018, Clarke played astronaut Ed White (1930-1967) in the historical film "First Man", which depicted the Space Race of the 1960s. The historical White was the first American to walk in space (in a June, 1965 space mission), and the second person to manage to do so following the Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (1934-) (who performed the original space walk in March, 1965).
In 2019, Clarke played the abusive stepfather Frank Zariakas in the neo-noir thriller "Serenity", the British colonel Lewis Morgan in the war-themed drama "The Aftermath", and Dr. Louis Creed in the resurrection-themed horror film "Pet Sematary". By 2019, Clarke was 50-years-old, but he was busier than ever in appearing in more film productions.