national academy of the performing arts

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JAI COURTNEY [Eric] was born and raised in the northwest region of Sydney where he developed an early interest in acting. He participated in a state sponsored drama program for young people, which led him to audition for the National Institute of Dramatic Art after high school. In 2004 he joined the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) a well-respected institution in Perth from where he graduated in 2008.

Following graduation, Jai quickly landed guest star roles on two hit Australian shows, Packed to the Rafters and All Saints and later that year he won a Theatre Critics Award for Best Newcomer for his performance in The Turning at the Perth Theatre Company.

In 2009 Jai landed the sought after role of Varro in the international Starz hit television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The character of Varro became the closest confidante to Spartacus until his death in the tenth episode. Fans of the show created an uproar over Varro’s death and to this day continue to lament about it on the many Spartacus fan sites and blogs.

After Spartacus: Blood and Sand Jai was cast in the Paramount film Jack Reacher alongside Tom Cruise and Werner Herzog. He then starred alongside Bruce Willis in A Good Day To Die Hard. The fourth installment of the Die Hard franchise which made over $300 million worldwide.

Last spring, Jai was seen in the box office hit film Divergent, alongside Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet. The film, directed by Neil Burger, is an adaptation of the hit sci-fi novel of the same name.

In October he co-starred with Joel Edgerton and Tom Wilkinson in Felony. Jai played a young police detective who suspects Edgerton’s character is lying about a crime he’s committed and he gradually builds a criminal case against him. The film had its World Premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

In December Jai co-starred in Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie. The Universal film is based on the unbreakable spirit of Louis Zamperini, the former Olympic track prodigy who endured unimaginable hardship as a WWII POW at the hands of Japanese prison guards. Jai plays ‘Cup,’ a WWII veteran pilot who gets caught in tenacious midair gunfight alongside Zamperini.

This year, in March Jai will be seen in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, the second film in the Divergent series.

In April, he co-stars in The Water Diviner, Russell Crowe’s feature directorial debut about an Australian man who travels to Turkey to attempt to locate the bodies of his three sons, who were killed there during WWI. Jai portrays ‘Lt. Col. Cyril Hughes’ who is tasked with organizing the effort to identify the tens of thousands of soldiers killed at Gallipoli.

In July he stars as Kyle Reese alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the sci-fi film Terminator: Genisys. This is the first film in a stand-alone trilogy.

Most recently Jai completed filming the psychological thriller MAN DOWN in which he plays ‘Devin Roberts’, war veteran and best friend of ‘Gabriel Drummer’ played by Shia LaBeouf. Directed by Dito Montiel, the film tells the story of a haunted Afghanistan war veteran who attempts to come to terms with his past while searching for his family in a post-apocalyptic America.

Jai will next film SUICIDE SQUAD based on the DC Comic Book in which he plays ‘Captain Boomerang’ alongside Will Smith and Jared Leto.

In addition to these roles, Jai has been working tirelessly to raise awareness and the funds needed to produce the feature-length documentary BE HERE NOW about his friend the late Andy Whitfield, who passed away 18 months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It was Andy’s desire to have this documentary produced in order to help and inspire others dealing with cancer or any of life’s challenges. The documentary is helmed by Academy Award® nominated documentarian Lilibet Foster.


“Dreaming” - Michelle Cheng, Orange County Performing Arts Academy junior lyrical solo, KAR National Finals Blue, Las Vegas NV, July 2015
Dreaming ~ original song by Jasmine Thompson