The Giver's Brenton Thwaites Doesn't Play By Society's Rules

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brenton-thwaites-embedPhoto: REX USA/Everett Collection.
Brenton Thwaites, a dashing boy from Down Under, first stole our hearts as Prince Phillip in Maleficent. With The Giver, he's officially arrived. Thwaites takes center stage as Jonas, the upstart high schooler who quits his meds and begins to question the supposed utopia in which he lives.

Taking on the lead role in Lois Lowry's beloved YA novel is just the beginning. Thwaites already has three more movies — Gods of Egypt, Ride, and Son of a Gun — that will all be released in the next few months. We caught up with the in-demand Aussie to talk about breaking the rules and sticking it to The Man alongside icons like Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges.

In the world of The Giver, emotion and negative memories are erased. Would you want to forget bad experiences, or are they key to who you are?
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Your experiences define who you are. Maybe you've done something wrong in the past, but you learned from it."

What memories will you take away from filming?
"The memories from this film have really inspired me to keep going. It was such a bear to shoot — this huge, gnarly thing — but the beautiful time that I had with Katie [Holmes] and everyone kept me going. You know you're working on such a cool film."

In The Giver's society so many basic freedoms are taken away in the interest of creating a utopia. But, can an ideal society really be achieved without absolute freedom?
"No, [you need] rules. If I had an impulse to go and murder someone, I couldn't do that. We have to have certain boundaries."

the-giverPhoto: REX USA/Snap Stills/Rex.
Jonas' arc is a little more pronounced than some of the other characters', which gave you a little more emotional leeway than the other actors.
"Every memory [he gains back] kind of inspired the next beat in Jonas' story. After war, you get a sense he’s had enough and can’t handle the pain. After love, he’s very curious and wants to develop that relationship more, so he decides to stop taking his injections and feel a little more. Every emotion that he feels and every beat of the story is inspired by the things that he learns and is giving."

What did you learn from all of the veteran actors on set?
"When I heard that Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep were doing [the movie], and Phillip Noyce was directing, you think, 'That will be a dream.' At the end of the day, they’re just really easy to create a relationship with on-screen. They're great people; not just movie stars."

Can you imagine a world without romance? And, would you rebel against it?
"It would suck. And, yeah, I would rebel. I wasn’t a rebellious child or anything because my parents gave me a lot of freedom. But, as artists, we go against the grain. We don’t do that 9-to-5 thing; we kind of make our own rules, and do our own thing."

Are you adventurous like Jonas?
"I look at it like this: There are so many people worried about our safety when we are shooting a movie that it’s kind of fun to make them nervous. It's fun to do things you contract says you can't, like go skydiving or surfing."