Back in 2006, Director Clayton Jacobson won over critics and audiences alike with his directorial debut, Kenny. Since then Jacobson has starred in a string of acclaimed television series including Animal Kingdom and Top of the Lake: China Girl alongside Nicole Kidman and Elisabeth Moss. Over ten years later, Jacobson has finally made his highly anticipated directorial follow up with Brothers’ Nest, a gripping, unexpected dark comedy about two brothers who return to their childhood home to complete an unthinkable task. This time around the talented Director has also produced and starred in the film, which also features his brother Shane. I was lucky to chat with Clayton who spoke about everything from movie roles, to family dinners in the Jacobson household.
First of all congratulations on Brother’s Nest, the film was full of surprises and went places I didn’t expect. What inspired you to helm the film?
The script was hand crafted for Shane and myself in mind. The writer Jaime Browne didn’t tell Shane or I about it until there was a first draft. I immediately feel in love with its tone and it characters. I saw it as the perfect second film to KENNY still very much about family themes but on a much darker more engaging level.
Brother’s Nest is a family affair, a film about brothers that stars both you and your brother Shane. What is it like working with your brother both on camera and behind the scenes as the Director?
When I was directing Shane on KENNY he was pretty green in terms of film sets and film production and so he left a lot of the grunt work to myself and he concentrated on character. Of course since KENNY he has worked on many fine films and TV and stage productions and has developed a real craft. So this time round I really had a collaborator to work with and the two of us has a ball making this film.
Your character Jeff is quite bossy to Shane’s Terry, does that come with the territory of being an older brother? Was that art imitating life?
I’ve never been bossy to my little bro. But like any older sibling I’ve been full of advice. That can be hard to shake and so Shane and I did have a moment when KENNY was first released where he had to remind me he was 35 years old and could think for himself. We talked about that dynamic a lot while making this film and gave each other permission to go to those dark corners and use them as fodder for the film.
How did your experience working together on Brother’s Nest, differ to working together on Kenny, which was obviously a much more light hearted film?
It’s funny you say light hearted I never saw KENNY as a comedy – the comedy was born of KENNY’s character and how he reacted to his surroundings and given situations. I saw KENNY as a character study about decency. Shane and I always played KENNY for truth and this time was no different just the out take from the film is different the process was surprisingly similar.
The family reunion doesn’t go to plan for anyone involved in Brother’s Nest, what is a Jacobson family gathering like? Are there any staple dishes that you guys enjoy?
If you are talking food – Sadly the Ginger Fluff cake referred to in our movie was from the writer’s family past. My mum always made a terrific Roast and when Shane and I were kids Saturday nights were Pancake nights. I do recall coming home from school one day and seeing sheep’s brains on the stove – that freaked me out somewhat.
Your brother Shane, recently starred in the film The BBQ as a self-proclaimed BBQ guru? Does that translate in real life or are you more likely to work the BBQ at a family gathering?
No Shane is definitely the cook between us – I have my favs I like to cook for my family, but I married an Italian who is an amazing cook. Interestingly while we made Brothers’ Nest Shane and I lived together and he would cook me a lamb roast at night while I would work on the next days scenes.
Is there a particular dish that encompasses your childhood or brings back fond childhood memories? If so what is it?
Mum used to make a sticky pudding cake that you could cut like butter and it retained its moist texture even the next day at play time – I always looked forward to that.
What is your favourite dish of all time?
My wife makes the most fantastic Curry Sausages – she only ever makes it as a treat for me so if I smell it on the stove I know I’ve done something right that week.
Is there anything you refuse to eat?
I’m not a big steak eater – I don’t refuse but I’ll almost always look for something else on offer.
Being an actor, producer and director would mean that you’re very short on free time, what’s your go to dish to whip up when you’re running on a busy schedule? Or do you not dabble in the kitchen?
I’m not a big cook only because my partner Vicki likes to be in there at it early in the day and I’m usually working until dinner time so my role is that of the tidy-up-era. But having said that – I’ll often make a pasta or a chicken dish. I love making dips for parties and nothing beats an early morning Omelette – this will freak you out but I like to put banana in my Omelettes – I met a taxi driver from Jamaica who suggested it and I’ve never looked back.
What are three must have ingredients you always have in your kitchen? Or in your trailer when you’re shooting?
I always have to have enough ingredients for a fast pasta – that’s my go to quick dish. I love salami and olives and chilli so there is always those accoutrements on standby.
If you could dine with anyone living or dead who would it be and what would you prepare?
That’s easy Francis Ford Cappola the director – he is a big Pasta guy and actually has his own restaurant in San Fran US – I’ve eaten there and I love his menu its full of Mafia references from the GODFATHER films. Truth is I would dare cook for him but id be hoping he’d pull out one of his own red wines and favourite Pasta dishes – I’d be in seventh heaven.
You recently starred in Top of the Like: China Girl? What was that experience like and working with an all-star cast including Elisabeth Moss, Nicole Kidman and Gwendoline Christie?
Short of Brothers’ Nest it was the highlight of my career. Every day was just totally exciting and an absolute pleasure. I really wish there was more women’s drama – the writing is richer and characters are not shoe horned into stereo types the way they so often are with work generated by men. My character got to experience the full gamut of emotion.
Do you prefer directing or acting?
Directing is my wheelhouse – its where my mind lives – acting is when I want to play and show off a little – they are different animals for me – acting always feels like a great holiday where someone else is carrying the worries of the entire production and I’m just left to concentrate on myself and fellow actors.
What are you working on next? Is there anything that you would like to add?
I’ve been working on a number of projects over the past eleven years – its fair to say I’m over development – I now want to make those films. I’ve got some cracker films on my shelf ready to go – I’m hoping Brothers Nest can afford me that privilege.
Brothers’ Nest is in cinemas now.