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Mr Inbetween exclusive: Nash Edgerton on Ray Shoesmith’s changing of heart in the final season

Promo pic from Mr Inbetween
Mr Inbetween’s last season sees Ray Shoesmith at a crossroad. Pic credit: FX

Scott Ryan’s conflicted antihero Ray Shoesmith caught producer, editor, and director Nash Edgerton’s eye in a short film.

The character so vividly memorable, endearing and frightful simultaneously that he blew up the premise with creator and star Scott Ryan to become Mr Inbetween, a critically acclaimed FX television series now in its final run for season three.

The feeling you get watching the series is that you are rooting for something good in Ray’s life to supersede the bad around him.

His charisma and day-to-day actions soften his edgy intentions that involve criminal acts. Ray is a loving father, a good brother, a responsible dog owner, and has a code of ethics that keeps him from hurting anyone he feels is not deserving.

His backstory comes in snippets. His troubled upbringing and estranged relationship with his father are now front and center, as his brother Bruce is gone, and his neurologically faltering father needs supervision.

In its first season, FX’s Mr Inbetween introduced us to a violent fixer paid to sort people’s problems that involved other people. The second season saw the depth of how far Ray would go for a payday, bookended by the tug of family duty as his physically failing brother Bruce’s death was a complex balance of Ray’s mercy and resolve.

Edgerton and Ryan together shaped the episodes with the right balance of horror and heart, punctuating the pathos of each slice of Shoesmith’s life with the perfect modern song to capture the emotional theme of where we leave the story.

Ray’s change of heart in season three

In season three, the Australian-produced Mr Inbetween is also at its core a father and daughter love story, where Ray’s paternal love for Brittany (Chika Yasumura) seems to evolve his way of thinking overall towards his vocation, the whys, and more importantly, the way that Ray wants to continue on living.

In season three of Mr Inbetween, Ray’s world is somber. He is processing the loss of Bruce while figuring out how to care for his aging father, Bill (Kenny Graham). His daughter Brittany is turning into a woman right before his eyes, and she too has grief and some anger issues, pulling her away from Ray as she comes closer to discovering the truth about who he is.

His reevaluated sense of destiny heightens in Ray’s life, yet he still pays the bills doing dirty deeds, not so cheaply. Things seem good with Gary (Justin Rosniak) and Dave (Matt Nable), but it is his contractual relationship with Freddy (Damon Herriman) that feels strained. Now a freelancer, Ray’s new client is dicey. Rafael (Jeremy Sims) makes Ray question the company he keeps.

The series is executive produced by Nash Edgerton, Scott Ryan, and Michele Bennett. The series was shot in Australia and produced by Blue-Tongue Films and Pariah Productions in association with FX Productions.

Monsters & Critics spoke to Nash Edgerton from Australia ahead of this season.

Exclusive interview with Nash Edgerton

Monsters & Critics: Ray’s becoming a more realized human being. Can you talk about Ray Shoesmith’s arc as a human and how you came across Ryan’s film?

Nash Edgerton: What I first saw was a 30-minute short film of that character [Ray Shoesmith] in a super low budget kind of fake documentary-style film. There was just something about that character that I thought was so interesting. The way Scott portrayed it, and even though it took a long time to make it, and now getting to share that character and explore that character further.

Over three seasons, has been pretty amazing. I feel like Scott’s character is becoming more and more a fully realized human, no matter what his vocation is or how it’s accepted in the world.

Ray goes through all the same kinds of things that we all face in our personal and our work lives, and he happens to be on the other side of the law. He just treats it like a job. I think that’s what makes it so accessible to an audience to enjoy watching.

M&C: Brittany is his tether to humanity. There are many other mitigating factors to Brittany’s distant personality this season, but I feel like she’s also mourning Bruce. I think that they both are.

Nash Edgerton: Yes. It’s interesting, all the Brittany stuff. Chika plays Brittany, and she is my daughter. I just can’t help but put into it [scripts] the parental experience I’m having at the time. So it’s very interesting, these [Brittany] scenes to direct because they’re kind of like getting her to relive my moments.

You get to see how I handled telling her whether Santa Claus was real or not, which was played out in season one. In season two, you got to see how I explained to her how babies were made.

M&C: Right. From your balls. “I came from your balls?” That was a classic line.

Nash Edgerton: Yes! [Laughs]. The exact words that came out of her mouth. What was interesting this season is just watching a young girl starting to become self-aware and wanting to find her place in the world, you know?

I think it was interesting to have Brittany start to cotton on to her dad, rather than accept everything. You are right. They are both going through this grieving process and how people deal with it, is by trying to move along and realize that something is hanging over you at the same time.

M&C: And Ray has another rich “d*ckhead” who wants him to do a dirty job that involves a young woman that leaves a bad feeling with Ray. You can see he is drawing tighter lines and reevaluating his friendship with Freddy.

Nash Edgerton: Yes. We all wrestle with the same experiences in relationships until we realized that we are the common denominator, and the way to change that is to change something in ourselves.

M&C: It’s been a poignant and complex journey, and you’ve done an incredible job furthering Ray’s arc.

Nash Edgerton: Thank you. Some of my favorite shows only had two seasons or three seasons. It’s nice not to overstay your welcome.

M&C: You began as a stunt performer, and then you straddled your career and went above-the-line and became a producer, writer, director, and you do it so well. Now you have the last season of Mr Inbetween, what’s on the horizon for you. I know that the Julia Roberts film Gaslit is no more, what are you doing next?

Nash Edgerton: Yes, well, the Gaslit thing was kind of a casualty of the pandemic really, we were supposed to do it in the middle of last year in LA, and then, everything kind of went on hold, and we ended up developing the third season of this [Mr Inbetween].

And by the time we were ready to make this, and that [project] still wasn’t sure what it was going to do. [My brother] Joel [Edgerton] took other jobs as well, so the both of us became unavailable, unfortunately.

But I think that’s a really interesting project. My brother and I are developing something else to get, and I’ve got things I’m kind of attached to in various stages of development. I’m interested in doing some other stuff with FX as well. I’d like to make another film. I haven’t made a film since I started making this show because I’ve been making this show for the last three or four years.

So as much as I truly loved doing the series, I am excited to do something else. I made a lot of short films before I started making full-length films. In particular, I made this short film called Spider that was quite popular on the festival circuit. I made a sequel to it called Bear. And just before I started making the show, I made a third one to go with them, Shark.

I’ve always enjoyed the short format. I never thought I would make TV, and then I’ve enjoyed making a TV show. It was different than what I was expecting. Although I do treat Mr InBetween like it’s one big movie. I shoot it like it’s a film. And then I break it into these episodes, that format. I enjoy taking a character and exploring it as far as possible, which is harder to do in a feature film format.

M&C: You punctuate the episodes with a perfect song at the end that sums up the whole vibe of what’s happening right now or in Ray’s mind. Who helps you find those songs?

Nash Edgerton: Scott Ryan. He finds and plays the tracks, and I’ll send him where I think the episodes will end. Then he finds a bunch of songs that he likes. We listened to them, and we narrow it down to a few and then find the one that works best.

I let him run with it, finding these tracks. He does that while I’m putting the episodes together. And then, we discuss which one we think works best for each ending.

M&C: Chika is a revelation.

Nash Edgerton: She had never acted before. What’s interesting is she wasn’t even born when that character was written. We started trying to develop the show in 2006. Chika wasn’t born until 2008, as the character existed in the scripts.

That’s how long it took us to make. She was the right age to play the character. I had no intention of casting her, even though by the time we’d gotten to making the first season, then I’d had all these experiences with Chika, which I would share with Scott.

He would say, can I put them in the show?

So the whole swear jar and the Santa Claus thing was really my experience with her. So many experiences I had with her were used that was based on her. I must’ve auditioned 60 plus kids. I just couldn’t find someone who could do it.

My wife was like, why don’t you try Chika?

Well, she had never acted before, and if she is no good, I’m not going to cast her. It’s just going to be awkward around the house. And, she’s like, well, you don’t like anyone else you’ve seen. I’m like, ‘okay, well, look. I’ll talk to her.’ I sat down with Chika, and I said, ‘look, I’m making this TV show, and there is a character that’s your age. And, would you be interested in trying out for it?

The first thing she said to me is, ‘well, yeah, but what if you don’t cast me?’

I told her it was not up to me, even though it pretty much was. I told her it might be a good experience just to try out and see what it’s like. So she agreed to try it out, and my wife took her to see my casting agent. I didn’t go.

Chika did the Santa Claus scene, which she had experienced. She did a great job. Everyone weighed in after watching the tape, and it was pretty unanimous. And then I showed Scott and Michele, my producer, and they agreed that we had to cast her. She was the best kid we had seen.

I was like, ‘Hang on for a second, guys. How will you direct her when she won’t clean her room when I ask her?’ How am I directing my kid? How is that going to work?’

They were like; you have to cast her. We don’t care.

This was the most nervous I’ve been directing anyone because I didn’t want people thinking I cast her because she’s my daughter. I didn’t want her to have a bad experience. The first few days, I didn’t even tell the crew that she’s my kid. She calls me Nash and when she first started living with me. And she did amazing takes. I was just so proud of her.

She moved in with me at age three when I started dating her mother, and we always got on great. I was just constantly impressed with how she handled it all. Whether it’s something she does or continues to do. I have no idea. I don’t try and encourage her to do it.

In this business, you have to really want to do it. Chika’s a complete natural. She has been offered other things, but she said, I just want to finish sixth grade. She doesn’t want to do it.

We love working together, and I know a few friends of mine are filmmakers who would cast her. It’ll just depend on whether it’s something she’s interested in doing at the time. I want her to be a kid and do what she wants to do.

If it’s something that she decides to pursue, then look, I think she will do very well at it because she’s a complete natural. It’s quite scary how good she is at it for someone who had never done it before.

Acting is all about listening, and she’s very good at just being present and authentic in the scene and listening to what’s going on, and rolling with where it goes.

Mr Inbetween – Third and Final Season premieres Tuesday, May 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX and Streaming the Next Day on FX on Hulu

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