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Guy Pearce Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters

Video Credit: GQ - Duration: 23:07s - Published
Guy Pearce Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters

Guy Pearce Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters

Guy Pearce breaks down his most iconic roles, including his characters in 'Memento,' 'Iron Man 3,' 'The Hurt Locker,' 'The King's Speech,' 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,' 'L.A.

Confidential,' 'Mildred Pierce,' 'Prometheus,' 'The Innocents,' and 'Bloodshot.'

- If I'm doing an accent that's unusual,I have to find a voice that really works,that I can latch onto.And then I can sort ofdevelop it from there.It's tricky with the royal familybecause they all do soundsort of terribly, terribly.Like that, and you think, "Isthat really how they talked?"They talked like that all the time?"You know?Apparently they do.[upbeat music]"The Adventures of Priscilla,Queen of the Desert."Well, the script was sent to me.I read it, I absolutely loved it.I had not long been outof a couple of TV shows.So, it wasn't that I was lookingspecifically for thingsthat were different,but the idea of somethingthat was quite differentwas very appealing to me.And I then went in and had ameeting with Stephan Elliott,our director.It wasn't really an audition.And he said, "How wouldyou feel about doing this,would you be uncomfortable?"And I went, "No, this would be great."And then I was offered it.♪ A desert holiday ♪♪ Let's pack the drag away ♪♪ You take the lunch and tea ♪♪ I'll take the ecstasy ♪There are two characters I suppose.The character of Adam, he'sso sort of over-the-top,and so kind of pushy, andobnoxious, and irreverent.That all the energy, in away, goes into that character.And then the energy that'sin the other character,in Felicia, the performing drag queen,is all about the dancemoves and the choreography.♪ Walk out the door ♪♪ Just turn around now ♪I was dance captain on the film.So, I was in charge ofrehearsals with Stephan and Hugo.And they did not learn their stepsas well as they were supposed to have.I'm not really a dancer soeverything I did, I had to learn.We did a lot of research, wewent to a lot of drag shows.We got introduced to lots of drag queens.And one of the thingsthat Stephan wanted to dowas on the last day of rehearsal,we were gonna do our camera tests,and makeup and wardrobe tests.And the plan was thatat the end of that day,we were all gonna go out that nightin Sydney to some clubs, in full drag.And just sort of cast us outinto the world of the public.Which we did.And that really was a eye-openingexperience for everybody.We didn't perform.We just got drunk.- Very clever.- Cheers girls.And congratulations, Mitzi darling.You did it.One lap of the BrokenHill main drag, in drag.The whole thing was a funny story.It was about turning up inthese towns, like Broken Hill,and King's Canyon, and varioustowns across Australia,where certain town's folk were preppedthat a film was coming.But they didn't really know what it was.And they wanted to get a lotof reactions from locals.So, quite often the locals were told,"Okay, our main charactersare gonna sort of come walking"down the street and youguys are gonna watch."And they would sort ofput the cameras on them.And you'd see these peoplejust seeing these drag queensfor the first time.Country towns that had notseen anything like this before.And this is in '93, aswell, you gotta remember.So, there's some pretty great,honest reactions [chuckles]by some locals.What are you all looking at?The Village People asked me togo on tour with them in drag.It was a work opportunitythat came up after that film.I didn't take them upon it, funnily enough.Of course I was really then keento just keeping doing what I wanted to do,which was to play alot of different roles."L.A.

Confidential."One of the first films Idid after Priscilla wasAnd everyone kept saying,"Oh, is it 'cause Curtis saw Priscilla?"And Curtis never saw Priscilla,he never wanted to see Priscilla.Even till the day he past away,he still didn't saw Priscilla.Which, I was kind of thankful for'cause he may not havecast me as Ed, actually,had he seen Felicia Jollygoodfellow.- [Officer] Come on guys, let's get 'em.[dramatic music]- Hey, Stensland, the party's upstairs.This doesn't concern you.The great thing about that film, I mean,obviously the script was really wonderful,but there was a book thatJames Ellroy had written,as we all know, called "L.A.

Confidential"that covers an eight-year period.So, there's a whole slew of story,narrative that doesn't exist in the film,for me to sort of wade through.Tons and tons of backstoryabout the character,and then also what sortof happens afterward.And I spent a number ofweeks in L.A.

Preparing.And we were driving aroundby a couple of cops.And taken to some pretty bad areas.And told lots of storiesof being cop in L.A.And you just slowly sort ofimmerse yourself in all of that.This should be it.The character that I played in that filmwas a new kind of cop, I guess.404.His father had been a worldrenowned detective and Edsort of wanted to follow in his footsteps.But he came from a morehighly-educated background,and was on some level therefor treatedas a bit of an outcastin the police force.So, in a way, he wasdifferent to the other cops.I realize this is difficult.- Give your career a rest.Leave her alone.- A naked guy with a gun.You expect anyone to believe that?- Get the [beep] away from me.I always really pleased tobe working with Russell.He's so brilliant and has sucha dynamic energy on screen.And he's a Kiwi and I'm English,but we both grew up in Australia.So, there's a sort of a connection there.He was far more advancedin his career than I was,but I felt that he was very helpful to me.And the scenes with Kim, as well,were really touching'cause she was so lovely.But the whole thing was areally wonderful experiencebecause Curtis, particularly,our director had such a greatability to sort of communicatedifferently to each actor,in relation to how thatparticular actor neededto sort of communicate.So, it really was likegoing to film school for me, that film.He taught me so much about film acting."Memento."It's a film that obviouslycomes up with me a lot,and comes back all the time.Film students talk about it a lot.And a lot of people say to meit really was the first film of its kind.Funnily enough, people sayto me "L.A.

Confidential"was the last film of its kind.And "Memento" was thefirst film of its kind.So, I feel really honored tobe part of those two films.But Chris Nolan clearly is a genius.And his ability to writethat story and make the filmthat was in his head as it is.I mean, it's the only filmI've ever really done, I think,where the finished film isexactly as the script was.- [Teddy] Yo, Lenny.I thought you split for good.- Well, things change.- So, I see.My name's Teddy.- I guess I've toldyou about my condition.- Only every time I see ya.- It was just an incredible honorto be working withsomebody who was so clever.And the great thing aboutChris was his abilityto really proficient with thetechnical side of filmmakingas well as the emotionaljourney of each character.And being able to sortof communicate with us.So, that was also a reallesson in filmmaking,working with him.There were 25 or 26 tattoos.We didn't see all of them all the time.So, it was only a few timesthat you actually saw them all.Applying these tattoos,we sort of had transfers,essentially, but it took a good hour or soto get 'em all on [chuckles].Who's Sammy Jankis?I guess I tell people aboutSammy to help them understand.Sammy's story helps meunderstand my own situation.Sammy wrote himselfendless amounts of notes.We shot the whole film in 26 daysand all that black and white stuffwas scheduled to be thelast two days of the shoot.And I was rehearsingthose scenes on my own,in my motel room, every weekendwhen we were havingbreaks in between filming.And I kept saying to AaronRyder, our producer, I said,"We're not gonna get allthat in just two days."It's a lot of stuff I'm doing,'cause I'm folding up notes,and tattooing, and on the phone,and it's just tons of stuff I had to do.Writing on Polaroids, et cetera.And then in the last week,or close to the last week,Aaron said, "We've got our third day."Oh, it's amazing whata little brain damagewill do for your credibility.You know the truth aboutmy condition, officer?You don't know anything.Thankfully, when Chris, my agent,sent me the letter and thescript, at the bottom of it,in brackets, he said, "By theway, this all goes backwards."So, I at least was sort ofprepared [chuckles] for that.But the thing was, even thoughon some level it felt likegobbledygook as I was readingit, because I got that sensethat things were just all overthe place, what I really got,and what was really clear,was the emotionaljourney of the character.And that, as an actor, that'sthe only thing I'm really,not interested in, but that'swhat I need to latch ontoin order to do my job.The other stuff sort ofbegan to make sense moreas I then worked with ChrisNolan and rehearsed with him.And then, funnily enough,once it all made sense to me,I then had to sort of putit all away, let it all go.And then just treat every sceneas if it was its own little thing.'Cause I wasn't really toremember what had happened beforeand clearly had no cluewhat was coming afterwards.Then, of course, it alsomade me really questionmy own memory.I think back to experiences in my lifewhere I look at something,like I look at a photoand base a memory around that, and go,"I actually don't really knowif that memory's really true."Is it?"So, it really made mequestion my own memory.Thanks, Chris Nolan."The Hurt Locker."Yeah, that was a quickexperience, wasn't it?I was sort of reluctantto take that on at first,and Kathryn asked me to do it.And I read it and went, "Well."And I had a few other things going on.I says, "Is it time in mycareer to start doing cameos?"You know, "Have I got to that point?"And she really talked me intoit, 'cause she really said,"No, we really want people tobelieve that you're gonna be"the person we're gonnafollow through this film."And, of course, if we killyou in the first five minutes,"then that'll be great for the movie."I said, "Okay, as long asit's great for the movie,"then that's great."[Guy laughing]So, if everything looksokay when I get down there,I'm just gonna set it up and we'll bip it.That bomb suit that I wore was so heavy.And we were in Jordan, of course.And it was nine million degrees.So, it was really hot in there.I remember having a bloodsquib inside the helmet,which is obviously meant to go offas the explosion goes off andI'm running towards camera.And they're setting it all,and sort of we're standingthere in the searing heat.And it was taking ages,and they're running wire,and it's this long, sortof laborious process.Not complaining.And then it went off by accident.In my face.So, of course, we had to take it all off,and we had to start all over again.And then, of course, the second time,when they're putting it on, I'm like,"Is this gonna go, what's gonna happen?"Didn't go off the secondtime, but it went off,obviously, on camerawhen it was meant to, so.[explosive blasting]And then I sprained my ankle.So, I was only filmingfor like three days.And as I finished filming,they then wanted to get all my dialogue.So, I put the helmet on,we stuck a microphonein the helmet.And I ran down the train trackthat I was sort of running on.And I went over on myankle, and then they went,"Oh, are you all right?"Well, we got the dialogue, that's great."That's a wrap on Guy, everyone."Fantastic Guy, thanks very much."And I'm on the ground going, "Ow."And I got on a plane and went to Torontoand started "Traitor."And by that point, my anklewas like this [chuckles].Everyone's like, "How was Hurt Locker?""Yeah, it hurt."It really hurt a lot.""The King's Speech."Colin and I got on very well.We've been friends for awhile,and he's just the mostdelightful human being.He's so wonderfullyarticulate and eloquent,and has lovely, funny stories.So, I just love being around him.Which was great because thedynamic between us is tough,and it's delicate, and it'squite sort of entangledin lots of family history.So, it was a complex relationshipto get right, I think.And, obviously, I'm notcarrying the film like he is,by any means, but it was importantthat that relationship was right.I've been terribly busy.- [King George] Doing what?- King'ing.- Really?King'ing is a precariousbusiness these days.Where's the Russian Czar,where's Cousin Wilhelm?- You're being dreary.I always have to start with the voice.I always feel like Ihave to find the voice.And then I'm off and running a little bit.If I'm doing an accent that's unusual,So, to play a real person,if you've got an audiorecording or something,it's absolutely priceless.I played Houdini, I played Andy Warhol,I played Edward VIII.I've played other people who were real,but aren't in the public eye.So, we don't really know them, per se.Of course, when you play Andy Warhol,you've got tons of stuff to view.When you're playing Houdini,there's really only audio recordings.And the sort of slow black and white,all sort of super-speededup black and white stuff,where you're going, "Is that him?"I can't really tell."So, your work's cut outfor you a little bit more.But, obviously, withKing Edward, his speech,his abdication speech is there online.You can hear it.So, it's fascinating,it's really fascinatingif ever I delve into someonewho's existed before."Mildred Pierce."Well, I'm about to work withthe lovely Kate Winslet again.Pretty much exactly 10 years onfrom doing that wonderfulshow with Todd Haynes.That was just a delightful experience.My agent called me and said,"Todd Haynes and Kate Winslet,"they're doing Mildred Pierce for HBO."I said, "Just say yes."Just say yes."They said, "Well, they'llsend you the scripts."I'm like, "Yeah, yeah, sure, just say yes."It's gonna be great."You don't do this very often?Mrs.?- Pierce, no, I should say I don't.- Oh, I'm honored you madean exception, Mrs. Pierce.I mean, it was fantasticon a number of reasons.The script was great, Kate was great.Todd was fantastic.HBO were really wonderful.But I was in a greatapartment in New York.I only worked three days a week.So, it was in summer,well leading up to summer.So, everything about it wasreally a dream job, you know?I went to work and had sexwith Kate Winslet a lot.Can't complain about that.- I still don't know what you do, Monty?- Oh, I don't know.Fruit, I guess.My character was pretty well realizedand developed in the script.There was no doubt about it,he was quite the charmer,he was a cad but he didn't comeacross as a conman, per se.And there was something sortof gently broken about him.And it all felt really clear on the page.If I can get what I needjust from the script,then I sort of don't wannago too far outside of that.Obviously, they had made"Mildred Pierce" as a film,back in 1930-something or other.And I had a look at that, but then,it wasn't helpful.So, I let it go quite quickly.I read the book, as well.If there are historicalcharacters, of courseyes, I'm wanting to listen to recordings,and look at photos, andthis, that, and the other.But it's also about findingyour own truth in it, I think.Whatever that means.So, you're not mimicking too much."Prometheus."It's very cool being partof the "Alien" world.It's also even more cool toget to play Peter Weyland.I mean, the guy whokind of created it all.It wasn't so cool havingto wear five hoursof old age prostetic makeup.Hello friends.My name is Peter Weyland.I am your employer.You have reached your destination.And I am long dead.I would get up at twoo'clock in the morning.I would be driven to workand I would start make upat three o'clock in the morning.And I'd be ready by eight.And they could film with me'till two in the afternoon.And then I was done.And I only did about 15 or 17days, or something, on that.The tricky thing about thatcharacter was I had to wearthis sort of metalexoskeleton thing, as well.Which meant I couldn'treally sit down properly.I sort of had to sortof stood this and go,"Mm-hmm, let me know whenyou're ready, mm-hmm, okay."I'll just wait here, hold on."No, I don't want adrink, I'm fine, thanks."There was one day where I went in,did all the makeup, got to my room.And they came in one day and said,"We're just running a bitbehind already this morning."We'll get to you shortly,we'll let you know."I went, "Okay."Well, an hour went by,and another hour went by,and they kept poppingtheir head in saying,"We're sure we're gonna get to you."At about one o'clock, theywent, "So, it's up to you."You could probably take all of this off."Or we might get to you."What do you think?"And I'm, by this point, I'matrophied, frozen to the spot.And I don't think I filmed that day.What was more difficultwas the hour that it tookto get the makeup off.Or have you lost your faith?The reason why Ridley cast mewas because he wanted to see a youngerPeter Weyland, as well.There's a scene where Michael Fassbenderputs on the special goggleswhere he gets to talkto Peter Weyland, who'ssort of cryogenicallysort of having a big rest.And then through thegoggles, we enter the worldthat Peter Weyland is dreamingthat he's in whilst beingcryogenically frozen, or asleep.And that world was gonnabe young Peter Weylandon a fabulous yacht withall these lovely ladiesin the Carribean, or something like that.And Michael Fassbender would appearand we'd have this conversation.Ridley couldn't finda yacht that he liked.And then they wanted to build a yacht.And they couldn't affordthat, or whatever happened.They said we'll eventually getto that scene, don't worry.And in the end they went, "Well,we probably don't need it."It's just fine to haveMichael with his goggles on"and hearing him talkand you just understand"that he's talking to Peter Weyland."They could've just casta 100-year-old guy.Instead of me.But I'm very happy tohave played Peter Weyland.And I would do anythingfor Ridley, so that's okay.Also, just working in 3D with 3D cameras.What was funny thoughwas Ridley coming up to,'cause he would have to wearhis 3D glasses at video villagewatching playback.And then he would come up toyou and give you directionwith these crazy 3D glasses on.And then he'd remember, throw them down."Oh, those bloody things.""Iron Man 3."With any of the sort ofvillains that you play,you get to the heart of where it started,why it's occurring, whatthe initial intentions were.And if someone's got achip on their shoulder,and then it just sort of develops,and develops, and develops,where somebody just needs to get revenge,or needs to feel like theyhave a place in the world.That's great stuff to playbecause, are they a villain,or are they just kind of out of kilterand then just get carriedaway with themselves?Oh wow, hey Tony.Aldrich Killian.I'm a big fan of your work.- My work?- Aldrich Killian's a youngman who's quite a science nerd.But somebody's who's reallyrejected from society.And through the brilliance ofhis innovation and invention,he's able to createsomething that enables himto kind of morph into the mostperfect version of himself.And comes back a kind of a better,supposedly a better man, you know?- Pepper.- Killian?- You look great, you look really great.So, we go from one extreme to another.Which was really quitefascinating and, obviously,people have seen the film andthey know how it turns out.It's not that I actively went,"I'm gonna do my fightscenes in Birkenstocks."But if my feet on not on camera,then I wanna be comfortable, okay?And I remember Robert saying to me,"Are you wearing Birkenstocks?"I said, "Yes."He said, "I've neverdone a scene with anybody"in Birkenstocks, letalone a fight scene."And I said, "Well, it's hot in here."You know, the boots areuncomfortable and stuff, so yeah."Thanks to Birkenstock formy comfy acting shoes.They're my acting shoes.How dare you suggestthey're anything less.Robert broke his ankle inthe middle of that film,'cause he had to a stuntwhere he had to jumpfrom one platform downto another platform,and be on a cable.And they wanted torehearse it and he said,"No, I don't need to rehearse it."And he jumped and the guyholding the cable wasn't quitesort of ready or something.And he landed hard and he broke his ankle.So, the film sort of shut downfor like five or six weeks.That's actually the secondfilm that I've worked onwhere the lead actor's broken their ankle.Adam Sandler broke hisankle on "Bedtime Stories."But on the weekend, hewas playing basketballwith his neices and nephewsand broke his ankle.So, I don't know if it's me."The Innocents."I've done lots of televisionwhen I was in my teensand in my 20s, I did twotelevision shows in Australiathat both went for four years.So, long-running TV shows.I learned a lot andreally great to work on.But not the quality really of the showsthat are being made these days.But I still, you knowI'm an old-fashioned guy.I still prefer making filmsjust because a one-off thing,and it's there up on the big screen.And to be able to encapsulatea story in an hour and a half,or two hours, feels like agreater feat to me in a way,then having the luxury of spreading it outover five or eight episodes.But that's fine too.That's the beauty of it,is being able to do that.But something like "The Innocents,"that was fascinating forall sorts of reasons.We shot in Norway, wewere up in the fjords.And just the most extraordinarylandscape around us.Dr. Halvorson wassomebody who I think also,possibly like Aldrich Killian,started off with good intentionsand things got a littlesort of out-of-hand.He's somebody who'sdiscovered this really raregenetic condition that onlyexists in these Nordic women.When they are facedwith a really emotionalor extreme kind of situation,they as a sort of a defense mechanism,they morph into theperson that they're with.And the doctor that I play issomebody who discovered thisand really wanted toget to the bottom of it.But, of course, he'd been ostracizedfrom the British medicalcommunity in Englandsome years before.So, he felt the pressure from the outsideand I think he was somebody who you feltwas really sort of comingapart at the seems.Really interesting, odd kind of story.Yeah, an odd character that I got to play."Bloodshot."My agent had the script and said,"I thought you might like this."And I read it and I really did enjoy it.And I had a great chat with Dave Wilson,who directed the film.And Dave, like other directorsthat I've spoken about,like Chris Nolan in a way,is able to really straddlethe technical side of thingsand the emotional side of things.Particularly in the visual effects world.Dave's sort of history with visual effectsis pretty impressive.But his ability to communicate with usabout what the journey ofeach character was perfect.Lovely, lovely guy.And I just liked the story,I thought it was fascinating.And this technology, whichis seemingly impossible,but on some level like greatscience fiction, I suppose,feels close enough that you kinda go,"Ah, maybe could be real, actually."That's kind of inspiringand scary at the same time.At RST, we rebuild themost important assetsin the US military.Soldiers like yourself.Dr. Emil Harting runs thisorganization called RST.Rising Spirit Technologies.And he is basicallytaking wounded soldiers,injured soldiers, orperhaps even dead soldiers,and improving them.Fixing what's not right.So, if someone's lost a pairof legs through an explosion,or someone's lost their sight,or someone's lost their ability to breath,the breathing apparatusthat he then createsfor that person, or the newocular vision technologythat's implanted intoone particular character,or the new legs thatsomebody else receivesmeans that then they're almost bionic.That they then haveadditional abilities beyondwhat a normal pair of legs oreyes might initially give you.And, of course, VinDiesel plays Ray Garrison.A soldier who has died.Who has now been brought back to life.And through this technologythat's basically running throughhis entire body, he is nowessentially a superhuman being.Do you remember anything?Vin like Robert Downey, or Adam Sandler,or any of these kind ofguys that are super-famous,who have an entire sortof industry around them,I just always find that fascinating.'Cause I just sneak intowork and do my thing,and then sit in the trailer.Or whatever and then pop on the set,and I just do it all on my own.And there's those guyswho always have a real kind of entourage.He's really warm-hearted, funny guy.And he's very aware of the Vin Dieselsort of franchise, I guess.So, we had a bit of alaugh about that at times.Initiate sequence.I always hope wheneverI start reading a scriptthat I'm gonna read somethingI've not read before.And if I feel that, thenthat's always really engaging.I always just wanna besurprised, I suppose.Even if I'm playing acharacter that might be similarto something that I've done before,it just needs to feel likethere's a new way in for me, I guess.Yeah.




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