Jason Clarke

Jason Clarke Biography

Television Actor, Film Actor (1969–)
Jason Clarke is an Australian actor who first earned notice on American big screens for 'Zero Dark Thirty.' He went on to star in 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,' 'Everest,' 'Mudbound' and 'Chappaquiddick.'

Who Is Jason Clarke?

Born and reared in the Australian Outback, Jason Clarke began his acting career on Australian TV before moving to the U.S. He enjoyed a starring role on the Showtime drama Brotherhood, but it was his turn as a waterboarding CIA operative in Zero Dark Thirty (2012) that truly put him on the map in Hollywood. Clarke went on to star in films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and featured prominently in many others, though he managed to remain relatively anonymous. He then earned acclaim for portraying Senator Ted Kennedy in Chappaquiddick, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival before hitting theaters the following spring. 

Jason Clarke Photo

Jason Clarke at the 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' Press Conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on June 27, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

Playing Ted Kennedy In 'Chappaquiddick'

Seemingly on the verge of breaking out as a major movie star for years, Clarke took one more step toward that plateau with Chappaquiddick, which debuted at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival before earning its widespread release the following April.

The film is based on a notorious real-life event from 1969, in which Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge with a former family staffer in the car. Directed by John Curran, it stars Kate Mara as the young woman who loses her life in the accident, Ed Helms as Kennedy's cousin and confidante and Clarke as the senator who comes to grips with what he has done as the family political machinery attempts to sweep it away.

The distinctive Kennedy New England accent proved a challenge for Clarke, who donned a set of fake teeth that rubbed his gums raw on long shooting days. But the physical demands were seemingly worth it, with the film drawing attention during the heated political climate of the times, and Clarke earning praise for disappearing into the role of an iconic figure.

Wife and Children

Clarke began a romantic relationship with French actress Cécile Breccia in 2010, and within a few years they had a son together.

In January 2018, Clarke attended the Screen Actors Guild Awards with a visibly pregnant Breccia. Along with mentioning that they were a few months away from baby No. 2, the couple surprised fans by revealing they had recently gotten married.

Jason Clarke's Major Movies

Early Film Work: 'Public Enemies' to 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Clarke first gained notice on American big screens for Public Enemies (2009), a Michael Mann-directed historical mob drama that starred Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard. He then appeared in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps before moving on to another tough guy role in Texas Killing Fields (2011), a crime drama helmed by Mann's Daughter, Ami.

In Lawless (2012), Clarke joined Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy as bootlegging brothers in Depression-era Virginia. However, it was his turn in Kathryn Bigelow's acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, as a waterboarding CIA operative, that garnered awards consideration and seemingly stamped the Australian as an actor to watch.

Leading Man: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' and 'Terminator Genisys'

The year 2013 brought a mix of the highbrow and lowbrow for Clarke, who took on the role of George Wilson for an adaptation of The Great Gatsby, before starring as a terrorist in the action blockbuster White House Down.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) represented a career highlight for Clarke, who was given the chance to shine as the headlining actor of a blockbuster that relied heavily on CGI. He also starred in the Terminator Genisys (2015) reboot with franchise stalwart Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the coveted role of hero John Connor, though the film did not perform as hoped and drew mixed reviews.

More Film Successes: 'Everest,' 'Mudbound' and 'Winchester'

The disappointment of Terminator didn't hinder Clarke, who enjoyed a standout performance among the ensemble gathered for Everest (2015). Based on the real-life Mt. Everest tragedy of 1996, which earned publicity through Jon Krakauer's best-selling Into Thin Air, Clarke starred as Rob Hall, the guide who led would-be adventurers on the ill-fated expedition.

Clarke went on to star in two World War II-era films in 2017, the award-winning Mudbound and The Man with the Iron Heart, as Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich. He then joined Helen Mirren for the horror flick Winchester (2018), as a psychiatrist called to evaluate the Winchester rifle heiress in her haunted house.

Next on the docket for the acclaimed actor was First Man, portraying groundbreaking American astronaut Ed White in Damien Chazelle's biographical drama of Neil Armstrong and the 1960s space race.

Reared in the Outback

Jason Clarke was born on July 17, 1969, in Winton, Queensland, Australia. The son of a sheep shearer, he spent much of his early years on the road with his three siblings, traveling between shearing posts, before settling in Padthaway, South Australia, at age seven.

Clarke had no formal introduction to acting, though he has recalled how he used to rely on his imagination while growing up without TV in the Australian Outback. He entered university expecting to study law, but found himself missing classes to spend his time in theaters.

Switching gears, Clarke embarked on a drama program at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. He also attended The Actor's Centre in Sydney, where he met a pre-fame Hugh Jackman.

Australian TV and Film Work

Early in his career, Clarke found himself cast in an array of Australian cop show/crime procedurals like Halifax f.p., Blue Heelers, Stingers and All Saints. He found his way into Twilight (1998), a neo-noir thriller with big-time Hollywood actors like Paul Newman and Gene Hackman, and had a minor part in the romantic comedy Better than Sex (2000).

Frustrated enough to consider quitting, Clarke was thrown a lifeline with a role in  Philip Noyce's historical drama Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002). His part of Constable Riggs was meaty enough to draw notice, and served as encouragement to the actor that his career was moving forward.

U.S. TV Work: 'Brotherhood' to 'The Chicago Code'

Moving to the U.S., Clarke made a splash on the Showtime drama Brotherhood as Tommy Caffee, a Rhode Island politician with a brother, played by Jason Isaacs, involved in the Irish Mob. Brotherhood won a Peabody Award in 2006, with Clarke among its performers who garnered praise, though the show met its end in 2008, after three seasons.

Clarke next landed on the Fox crime drama The Chicago Code, alongside Jennifer Beals, as tough homicide detective Jarek Wysocki. It was a legitimate starring role, though The Chicago Code failed to gain traction as a midseason replacement and was canceled at the end of the 2011 season.

Personal Life

Clarke lives with his family in the Hollywood Hills West area of Los Angeles. Protective of his privacy, he refuses to indulge in social media, one reason he remained relatively unknown even while building an impressive string of credits.

The actor has admitted to a keen interest in politics, and as such was eager to take on the role of Ted Kennedy for Chappaquiddick. He once spent a day aboard Kennedy's boat during the days he was filming Brotherhood in Rhode Island, shortly before the senator's death in 2009.

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