Guy Pearce

Guy Pearce is one of Australia’s most accomplished actors with a wide range of credits including two films which won the Oscar for best picture – The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech.  There’s also Prometheus, Memento, L.A. Confidential and Animal Kingdom.  He can currently be seen in Iron Man 3 and I recently had a 10-minute chat with Guy to talk about the movie and some other stuff he’s been working on. You can listen to / download an audio by clicking here. My review of the film can be found here.

Matt:  We saw you Prometheus last year, well, we kind of saw you beneath all the make-up, but this is about as a big a blockbuster as it gets.  How did you get approached about the role of Aldrich Killian?

Guy:  I’m not sure to be honest.  I don’t know if they were keen on me or my agent pushed me onto them.  By the time I heard about it, it was an offer so someone must have thought it was a good idea.

Matt:  What’s it like inside Hollywood in the sense that you are already an accomplished actor but do you still have to audition for a role like this?

Guy:  I didn’t in this case, no but it does depend on the situation.  I’m sure if Martin Scorsese was interested in me or something he may want to do an audition.  With the majority of roles though, if people realise that you’re capable of doing something then you’re in.

Matt:  You’ve made some wonderful low-budget films and Memento comes to mind but here you’re working on a film with a big $200m budget.  Does it feel any different on set or is just another movie?

Guy:  It only feels different on set because you’re filming at the studio.  You’re there in a big studio with 20 visual effects artists behind you who are creating images on their laptops.  It feels bigger in that regard but on the other hand, you’re there with the same group of people – a bunch of actors, the director, the cinematographer, the camera team and the prop guys.  So there are times when it doesn’t feel all that different at all.

Matt:  Once upon a time, comic books where things that nerdish kids read at school.  Now days, movies based on comic books seem to be all the rage.  Audiences are flocking to them, they’re pulling in billions at the box-office and studios are making more and more of them.  What’s going on here?  Why are comic book / superhero movies suddenly so popular?

Guy:  I don’t know.  I never read comic strips as a kid.  They did nothing for me whatsoever but I can imagine for a lot of people they are a wonderful fantasy.  To see that stuff come to life on screen is exciting for a lot of those comic book nerds out there.  It’s not just nerds though.  There are many people looking for a bit of escapism.  Some comic book films are done in a standard kind of way and then you have some like the recent Christopher Nolan Batman series that are very dark, cerebral and powerful.

Then you’ve got something like Iron Man which I think treads a beautiful line between campy humour and serious story, primarily because of Robert Downey Jr.  He brings something to this character and these films that most other actors could not.  He avoids the typical serious, “clenched jaw” hero that is out to save the world.  You kind of never know what he’s going to do next and it’s exciting to watch.

Matt:  I’ve only had a chance to see part of the film so far.  Do you interact a lot with Robert Downey Jr in the film?

Guy:  We had a few scenes together but I haven’t seen the finished film myself so I don’t know how much of what I did is still in there.  We have a bit to do with each other but we spend much of the film trying to track each other down.  I also worked with Gwyneth Paltrow and Rebecca Hall.

Matt:  We’ve mentioned the comic books already and you said you didn’t read them as a kid but with this particular role, did you have to do some background reading of the comic books or are you more relying on the script and director for inspiration?

Guy:  I was just relying on the script as I feel that’s someone else’s job to pull the best bits from the source material and make a great script.  If I read the script and it works for me then great.  If it doesn’t work for me and I still want to do it, then I might go and do a bit more reading to see if there’s something missing about this character. 

I did have a look at some of the comic books, not because I thought the script was bad but just out of interest.  I was curious to see how he appears and how Aldrich Killian looks while trying to get a sense of his manor and demeanour.  What we’ve put in the film is a mix of the best bits and pieces of his life.  If you stick too closely to the source material, you’re only going to get confused and disappointed because things aren’t there. 

Matt:  A lot goes into the promotion of a Marvel movie.  Do you have to do a lot of travel in the next few weeks to talk up the film?

Guy:  Not a lot.  I’ll go to the States to do the opening and press over there but that’ll probably be about it.  Robert’s already in Asia now promoting it.  I don’t have a really big role in the film to be honest but I have worked on films in the past where you’re travelling non-stop around the world for about 18 months trying to get something off the ground.

Matt:  I’ve been reflecting over the past few days about the life of Roger Ebert, the world’s most influential film critic who passed away last week.  As an actor, are you someone who reads a lot of reviews?

Guy:  I don’t read a lot of them.  I used to but then I got burned really badly once and it left me thinking that I don’t really need to see reviews.  Having said that, I watch David and Margaret all the time.  If there are reviewers like Siskel & Ebert that have a great credible history, then sure, I’m curious to know what they have to say but I won’t necessarily rely on them when determining whether to see a film or not.

Matt:  Much is made about the state of the film industry here in Australia and how we struggle to come up with many of our own big hits at the box-office?  Do you get approached with a lot of scripts from Aussie filmmakers?

Guy:  Not a lot.  There are not a lot of films that get made in Australia unfortunately.  I’m always trying to seek things out.  I think sometimes I don’t get approached because people think “oh, he’s a Hollywood actor now and we wouldn’t be able to afford him so don’t bother” or they’ll go “we want someone who is unknown and bring a bit more mystery to a role”.  I hate the fact that I might get overlooked for a role because they think it’ll be difficult for the public to believe that I am this simple Aussie character.  I’d love to do more Australian stuff than what I actually do.

Matt:  And where can we expect to see you next?  What projects are in the works?

Guy:  I’ve got a couple of things in the can.  I’ve just finished David Michod’s film, The Rover.  I did a film in New Orleans after Iron Man with Kristen Wiig which I think is now called Hateship Loveship.  I also did Drake Doremus’ movie which we took to Sundance this year called Breathe In.  Those films all need to come out.  In May this year, we’re going to shoot the third Jack Irish film.