TORONTO, Cananda - The Oscar-nominated "Zero Dark Thirty" opened in Canada on Friday and star Jason Clarke wants viewers to know that there is more to the film than its controversial torture scenes.
The movie — about the hunt for Osama bin Laden — has sparked intense media coverage for its suggestion that techniques like sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation were a necessary evil in tracking down the terrorist mastermind.
And while Clarke, who plays an interrogator in the film, says it's great that people are talking about "Zero Dark Thirty," he wants them to know there is more to it than torture.
"What I do hope is that (the media coverage doesn't) inundate viewers and the public to say that's what the film is about, because it's not," he said in an interview from Los Angeles. "
"I mean there's a lot more talk about this film than just the first 30 minutes."
"Zero Dark Thirty" was nominated for a best picture Oscar on Thursday but made headlines because director Kathryn Bigelow did not receive a nod. She was the toast of Hollywood two years ago when she became the first female director to win an Academy Award — for "The Hurt Locker."
"Zero Dark Thirty" star Jessica Chastain — who plays a CIA operative obsessed with the bin Laden mission — received a nomination Thursday for best actress.
Clarke was stunned by the Bigelow omission, and had high praise for Chastain — saying that she would deserve a nomination even if there was a "best actor full-stop" category, that didn't specify gender.
Clarke — who will also appear in the upcoming "The Great Gatsby" — speaks effusively about his experience making "Zero Dark Thirty."
He says Bigelow was drawn by the fact that he'd travelled extensively.
"She knew that we were going to be shooting in some strange locations, you know, in Jordan and in India. I think she needed to know, probably after 'The Hurt Locker,' that it takes a person who's able to deal with that ... like in 'The Hurt Locker,' strange foreign place with oppressive heat."
He also said travel is also a way of life for many CIA agents, particularly field agents: "they go and they take jobs ... and set up in these far-flung locations of the world and they gather information."
Immersing himself in the local culture during the "Zero Dark Thirty" shoot, he said, helped him find his character.
"That was great.... You go to the local bathhouses, you talk to some of the locals, you catch up with some students, you just go meet people, you know? You've got to find out where to do your washing ... I love going to the restaurants on the street and talking to locals seeing how they feel about what's going on politically there, or what's going on with the football, what's going on religion-wise."