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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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He was Leonardo DiCaprio's lower class mate on board Titanic, but now Jason Barry is befriending Matt Day as a medical student in an organ dealing scam in Muggers, the Australian comedy directed by Dean Murphy, who, Barry tells ANDREW L. URBAN, reminds him a bit of James Cameron.

Jason Barry is as affable in real life as he appears to be on screen, his Irish charm as smooth as a Guiness. He speaks softly but with energy and as we talk it's obvious he loves what he does. But it's also a career. Talking about Muggers, Barry smiles a lot. "My character Gregor is a hopeless medical student who aspires to a BMW and a busty receptionist," he chuckles.

"I think he got it right"

Barry met director Dean Murphy in Los Angeles to discuss the role and found Murphy "really nice." Later, he also found him "great to work with. It felt as if he'd done 50 films, you know, he's so confident and knows every aspect of filmmaking. He reminded me of James Cameron in that respect, and I think he got it right," says Barry referring to Murphy's approach to Muggers.

(Note: Murphy started writing screenplays at 19, and directed his first film, Lex & Rory, at 21. He is now based in Los Angeles.)

"We're lovable characters," he says of Gregor and Matt Day's Brad, "but what we do is quite evil. Yet the tone of the film is comic, so audiences root for us! It's a dark comedy - the laughs come from the characters and the circumstances. It's a really well written script…it's not forced, but it's full of bizarre situations, and we don't play it for laughs…"

The Muggers script had been around for some time, and Barry was involved with it for five years before it was finally financed. "It's changed a lot - for the better," he says. "It's tighter and cleverer and Matt is just right for it."

Barry, from a working class family (his dad "fixes machines at Cadbury's") started his working life in an insurance company but only lasted six months. "One day I just said 'oh, hell . . .' and got out." He studied traditional acting at the Samuel Beckett Centre, but still doesn't really know why he likes acting. ""I don't know why I act - I'm waiting to be found out, quite frankly…I just like meeting people." On the set of Muggers, for example, he met Nicola Charles (who plays Belinda) an English girl who has been in Australia two years, but has moved back to England to be with him.

"'The Irish guy from Titanic"

As for his 'big break' of working in Titanic, he says it was great fun: "I spent five months on the set but worked one day a week. Acting has been a great way to see the world," he adds smiling. But, surprisingly, he was never offered a job directly because of Titanic. "But it got people to say, 'The Irish guy from Titanic….yeah, we'd like to see him."

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Jason Barry in Muggers


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