I won't lie - although LOCKOUT, opening this Friday, is fun enough, I really wanted to talk to Guy Pearce about the many great movies that he's been a part of over the years. Unfortunately, I only had ten minutes with the man, so I couldn't dive into his back catalog as extensively as I would have liked. I didn't even touch on L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, or RAVENOUS, and I covered THE PROPOSITION only tangentially. But I wasn't going to pass up on talking to an actor with a terrific movie career with such great performances, and I'd be damned if I didn't at least touch upon MEMENTO.
I only got ten or so minutes with him, but I found those ten to be time well spent. Pearce was friendly, engaging, and witty, and I thank him and Elizabeth Shelby for setting this up.
Guy Pearce: Hello.
Nordling: Hi, Mr. Pearce. How are you doing?
GP: Good. I’m sorry, what was your name?
Nordling: My name is Alan Cerny, I write for Ain’t It Cool News.
GP: How are you doing, man?
Nordling: I’m doing well. I saw your film, LOCKOUT. I loved Snow and his wisecracks. He seems to be a really funny guy. Tell me a little bit your inspiration for him as a character.
GP: Look, he was written that way completely and utterly. I mean, the guys, Steven [Leger] and James [Mather] who wrote and directed the film were very keen from the outset to make sure that he was a bit of a wisecracking irreverent sort of character. They made that very clear from my first meeting with them that that’s what they were after, which I suppose is what I found appealing about him in the first place.
Nordling: Yeah, he’s kind of a reluctant hero, but once he gets going he seems to have a good time of it.
GP: Yeah look, and I think that he is obviously somebody who was a special operations guy, so he has all of the training and all of the skills and all the abilities, but he just doesn’t care for that stuff anymore, so as we discover in the film, he is really there to rescue his friend, rather than rescuing the President’s daughter, who he doesn’t really care about. So you know, that in itself I sort of thought was a nice irreverent attitude, but obviously when things get difficult he has the skills to be able to deal with it, and really it’s just a fun piece of entertainment. It’s kind of fun, I think, to have a character at the center of it who himself is kind of having a bit of fun.
Nordling: It’s kind of a big year for science fiction for you with this and PROMETHEUS. Can you talk a little about that TED video that you shot? I know you probably can’t go into the movie very much, but I thought that was a really fun way to kind of have fun with the fans of the ALIEN films, and also just have fun with people anticipating PROMETHEUS. How did that come about?
GP: I’m not sure who’s idea it was originally, if it was Ridley’s [Scott] idea. I imagine it probably was, but they wanted to establish a sort of a back-story or some motivation for an audience to understand what Weyland’s MO is, and I guess it was all sort of rolled up with a more contemporary way to market a film, and get some sort of additional aspects to characters out there online. I’m not sure if the others are online yet, but there are some from other characters as well in the film.
Nordling: Oh? Okay.
GP:: Which I can’t give away yet if they are not out there obviously.
GP: So you know, it’s a way of sort of having additions to what is there in the film just to add interest, and obviously this is a highly anticipated movie and for obvious reasons. I think the marketing folks and Ridley are really tapping into that, and I think it’s fantastic, because I think people are excited about the movie, and so to give them little tastes other than just a typical or normal trailer for the movie is kind of a fun way to do it, you know?
Nordling: Yeah. I loved it. It was a lot of fun. I’m a huge ALIEN fan. It’s probably one of my top ten films of all time, so that’s really…
GP: Yeah, I mean that’s a great film, isn’t it?
Nordling: It’s great. Did I detect a little John Hurt in your voice there when you did the TED video? It sounds like you had a little gravely thing going. (Laughs)
GP: Not on purpose. Not on purpose, no. (Laughs) Maybe, I have worked with John Hurt before, but it certainly wasn’t intentional, no.
Nordling: It was wonderful. I just watched MEMENTO again yesterday… I’ve seen it many times, but I wanted to watch it again since it’s been several years now since the movie, and I think it’s had a huge impact - your performance as well as Christopher Nolan’s direction. One humorous question I had, in a world where Polaroid doesn’t exist anymore, where would Leonard Shelby be now? What would he be doing?
GP: Yeah, flicking through photos on his digital camera trying to remember which was the first one in the list, you know? Being frustrated that he couldn’t write on the screen, although there are some cameras where you can actually write on the screen obviously. But yeah, it was lucky we made that movie when we did, isn’t it?
Nordling: There’s something amazing about it. There’s this quality about it that still holds up, and I think that even now that it’s commenting on how memory, you can’t even trust it.
GP: That’s right, and I mean it is a timeless idea. We all live a long life - well for those of us who are lucky enough to live a long life - we all have memories of our past and I think we all… If we ever really questioned them, aren’t necessarily 100% sure whether those memories are entirely correct. We might think they are, but you know it’s such a fascinating psychological occurrence, I think, the idea of a memory and why we actually have them. They are a survival tool. They are a way of constructing our identity. They are a really fascinating existence and for those of us… You know, I have a family member who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and so is losing her memory, and it’s really incredibly tragic, because it’s like sort of saying, “Your life has been taken away from you.” Obviously, having experienced making MEMENTO, I spent a lot of time giving the idea of memory a great deal of thought, and so it’s something that is sort of in the forefront of my mind, and obviously now having a family member who is experiencing that, it’s interesting to look back at that again and try to relate it to what’s going on at the moment. It’s such a precarious and tenuous thing, our memories, and how our brain works. I think that film will always… I think people will always be able to relate to it, even as time goes by.
Nordling: Yeah, it’s amazing. Now you’ve worked with John Hillcoat in THE PROPOSITION and you have another film coming with him, THE WETTEST COUNTY. Actually, it’s under a new title now, right?
GP: Yeah, I think it’s being called “LAWLESS,” but I’m not entirely sure, so I wouldn’t quote me on that. Maybe you should do some homework - and not to suggest you haven’t done homework (Laughs) but I’m just saying I think they are in the process of figuring out the title, so I’m not entirely sure what the final result is of that. I think LAWLESS is what they were going for, but this is my third time working with John, because I did THE ROAD as well.
Nordling: Can you talk a little bit about that film and what we can expect in that one? It’s played a few festivals and I haven’t seen it. I really want to, because I love Hillcoat’s work.
GP: I don’t think it will have played any festivals yet. I don’t think they are entirely finished with it.
Nordling: I thought it had, but I might be mistaken on that. I’m sorry.
GP: Yeah, I think so, because I think they are still in the final stages of putting it together, so I would be surprised to hear… I mean there may have been some sort of trailer type things played at festivals perhaps, but…
Nordling: Right. I think that’s what it was.
GP: But I think it’s great. I mean I think what I’ve seen of it obviously with Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain and Shia Labeouf and Mia Wasikowska… It’s a really fantastic, beautiful, dramatic story with great performances, and obviously John Hillcoat has a very particular style, and I think it’s really suited to drama and obviously period drama as well, so I think it will be a very visceral and sort of effective film. I can’t wait to see the finished product myself. (Laughs)
Nordling: Right. I remember there were several moments in THE PROPOSITION… I was actually watching it at home, and I kind of jolted in my seat, because there’s some pretty visceral moments in that film as well.
GP: John, I think he manages to tap into your psyche in a way that no other filmmaker does, so he’s a pretty special guy.
Nordling: All right, I think that’s about it. I wish you luck on LOCKOUT.
GP: Yeah, thanks. Look, it’s fun. As you say, I think it’s a fun character hopefully people will get out of it what we put into it, which is really just to have a good piece of entertainment I guess.
Nordling: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
GP: No problem. All right, thanks. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.
LOCKOUT opens this Friday, PROMETHEUS opens in June, and LAWLESS opens this winter. We're not done with Guy Pearce this year, not by a long shot.