Joel Edgerton beats himself up in a trippy new sci-fi series, Dark Matter

Double trouble.
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Joel Edgerton, the hardest thing about shooting Dark Matter was having to act opposite Joel Edgerton. In the sci-fi series, Joel plays physics professor Jason Dessen – and he also plays another version of Jason, who chose a different path in life 16 years earlier.

“Weirdly, the biggest challenge was doing a fight scene with myself,” Joel, 49, says.

“Actually having to work opposite someone else and then swap roles, and to help educate the other person about my physicality or rhythm, was a real challenge.”

Dark Matter is an Apple TV+ series based on the bestselling 2016 novel by Blake Crouch. Joel, who played Will in The Secret Life Of Us before going on to star as Owen Lars in the Star Wars franchise, was one of the novel’s many fans.

“I read the book and loved it and found out they were doing a series of it and got very pro-active about wanting to get involved,” he says.

Joel became an executive producer of the nine-part sci-fi drama as well as the star.

When Dark Matter begins, Jason is living in Chicago with his art curator wife Daniela (Jennifer Connelly) and teenage son Charlie (Oakes Fegley). He’s given up a promising career as a physicist to teach college students and devote himself to his family.

One night, after going to a bar to celebrate his friend Ryan (Jimmi Simpson) winning a science prize, Jason is kidnapped and finds himself in an alternate version of his life. This other Jason has achieved fame as a brilliant physicist, but isn’t married to Daniela and doesn’t have children. Instead, he’s in a relationship with a co-worker, psychiatrist Amanda (Alice Braga).

“On one hand, you have a person who’s taken on the selfless responsibilities of being a family man and choosing not to pursue his dreams,” Joel says. “On the other, you have someone, who chose not to have the responsibilities that tied him down so that he could pursue his dreams, and became very successful. Ironically, neither of them feels happy.”

Jason soon discovers there’s more than one alternate version of his life – in fact, there’s an almost infinite number, all accessible through a box that physicist Jason invented. The hard part is working out how he can get back to the one that he was taken from.

The series poses the question, “Are you happy in your life?” It’s one that Joel, a father who has three-year-old twins with Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Christine Centenera, has given some thought to.

“I’m very happy, with mild concerns,” he says with a laugh. “I suffer my own anxieties, I stress about life, I have two little kids and I’m constantly concerned for them. But I’m happy and I certainly wouldn’t exchange my life for anything, – and I would wrestle you to the death if you tried to take it away from me.”

Dark Matter season one is currently available for streaming in Australia.

Stream Dark Matter on Apple TV+ from $12.99/mth, with a 7-day free trial.

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