Why Guy Pearce always gets interesting roles

Why Guy Pearce always gets interesting roles

Guy Pearce is reunited with Kate Winslet in HBO’s seven-part series Mare of Easttown. It’s been a decade since they co-starred in another HBO drama Mildred Pierce, for which both he and Kate received Emmy awards for their portrayals.

Mare of Easttown has just aired the pilot episode (on April 19 and every Monday thereafter at 10 a.m. on HBO Go and HBO), which introduced Kate as the titular heroine Mare Sheehan, a detective in the small town of Easttown, Pennsylvania. She’s been tasked to reopen an unresolved missing person’s case amid growing pressure from the local community. Later, while her loved ones celebrate her ex-husband’s engagement, Mare joins a celebration for her legendary high-school basketball win and meets Richard (played by Guy), a creative writing professor who’s new in town.

Created and written by Brad Ingelsby (The Way Back), and directed by Craig Zobel (HBO’s The Leftovers), Mare of Easttown explores the dark side of a close-knit community and examines how family and past tragedies shape the present.

Based on our recent virtual interview with the English-born Australian actor, it seemed pretty easy for Guy to come on board Mare of Easttown and say yes to the Oscar-winning actress, who’s credited as an executive producer on the series.

‘I would bring back to the fact that I have a sister with an intellectual disability. I was brought up in the world with her. I was brought up looking at the world from her point of view and looking at the world in which people view her in a way that I didn’t agree with. And so, for me, to play any role — there’s a sense of awareness that I was brought up with as a child that I can’t ignore, whether it’s when I was an actor when I was 21 or whether I’m 41 or now 53.’

Guy, who was in Amsterdam at the time of the Zoom chat, shared with The STAR and other international press how Kate successfully pitched the TV project to him.

“She called me and said, ‘Please come and do this.’ I assume she ran it by HBO first to make sure that they were okay with it. But it was really just to fill me in on the storyline. You know, we had such a great time working together before on Mildred Pierce. And, I think, she wouldn’t have asked me if she didn’t feel I was right for it. So, it was just giving me a sense that Richard comes into this woman’s life to try and sort of offer her a slightly different perspective, I suppose.”

That includes making Mare see that she deserves to be loved even as her personal life appears to be crumbling apart.

“Everybody looks at Mare as someone to sort of solve their problems. And even though Richard, to some degree in the end, we realize he’s also looking to Mare to help him, I think the way in which he sees her when he first sees her, and not just sort of visually sees her, but once he starts to understand who she is and what it is that he’s drawn to, she gets a sense that nobody else looks at her like that, that nobody else respects her the way he does, that nobody else kind of sees that she is worthy of love in the way that he does,” Guy said.

The STAR learned that Guy and Kate are more than just co-stars who enjoy working with each other. They are good friends in real life.

“We’re mates, there’s no question about it. And you know, when you share a birthday with somebody, that connects you on a level that you can’t sort of get away from,” he said.

Kate is actually a long-time fan of his, since his early acting days back in the ‘80s via Neighbours, the longest-running soap opera in Australian television. “She was a fan of Neighbours when she was 11 and I was 18. So, there’s that connection as well. She likes to sing the Neighbours theme to me quite regularly, and (I’ve told her) if anyone’s gonna sing the Neighbours theme, it’s fine that it’s you. We have great rapport, we have a good laugh. We really adore each other. Clearly, we all know what sort of outstanding actor she is and any opportunity to get to work with her, I’m just going to put my hand up.”

Guy also noted how their relationship has leveled up since they now have more things in common to talk about compared to when they first worked together. For one, he’s a family man and father of one with Dutch actress Carice van Houten (of Game of Thrones fame).

“You know, she’s all about family. You never have a conversation with Kate about the film industry. You might occasionally because you have to, but everything’s about family. Everything’s about your mother, your father, your brother or the relationships, and why this works between these family members and those family members, and how you deal with your kids. Everything’s just very human, down-to-earth stuff, which was also wonderful because it fed into what the show was about.”

He continued, “I have a little boy now who’s four and a half, and Kate has three kids, but she has a little boy whom I think is seven now. So, it was really great to connect on that level because last time we worked, I didn’t have kids.”

Besides the irresistible pull to work anew with Kate, Guy has built a reputation for selecting and starring in some of the best onscreen projects.

From the TV series Jack Irish or The Innocents to unforgettable movies like Count of Monte Cristo, Animal Kingdom, The Hurt Locker, to The King’s Speech, Memento and Iron Man 3, Guy said that the way he chooses his projects starts with always getting a feel of whether he truly sees himself in the role, or if it’s different or interesting enough for him to explore a little more.

As he delves into the character, he endeavors to deliver the best possible version of what he can offer. “I’m always interested as each day goes on, to try and make what it is I’m doing innovative, as well as to try and make what I’m doing unusual or at least not like something I’ve done before or we’ve seen before. Now, I know that’s impossible because there have been many wonderful actors who have gone before me. So, to some degree, I’m always going to plagiarize and take from what I’ve seen before. But at least, I feel like I have to do that kind of work to make sure that what I’m offering is the best version of what I can offer.”

One thing is for sure, Guy doesn’t accept roles or projects just for the sake of it. “I always feel like I’ve had an element of ethics and morality to the things that I’ve chosen. I just can’t help it. I don’t feel like I’ve had to sort of change my way of working over the years, necessarily. I probably have changed my way just as I’ve gotten older… I might choose not to do something now that I might have chosen to do 10 or 20 years ago. But I’ve always had a deep feeling or a deep sense of, whether it’s morality or ethics, I’m not really sure, but just about the way in which you present a story.

“Even if you do a story like Iron Man 3, which is clearly a fantasy world, the way in which the psychology of a character is presented in a story to me has always been something that I’m very aware of. I’ve never gone into anything flippantly before and in fact, probably quite frustratingly to my agents, I’ve said no to many more things than I’ve said yes to. Because I read something and I can’t necessarily explain why I don’t want to do it, but I look at it and go, it just doesn’t feel like we’re doing the right thing by making this.”

There’s a bigger driving force for his onscreen choices and that is, growing up with a sister who has an intellectual disability.

“A lot of it I would bring back to the fact that I have a sister with an intellectual disability. I was brought up in the world with her. I was brought up looking at the world from her point of view and looking at the world in which people view her in a way that I didn’t agree with. And so, for me, to play any role — there’s a sense of awareness that I was brought up with as a child that I can’t ignore, whether it’s when I was an actor when I was 21 or whether I’m 41 or now 53.

“Look, I get it. It’s great to make stuff just for the sake of entertainment. But I kind of wish that there was some more thought put into work out there. I don’t think that we have to dumb things down because that’s what the audience wants. I think we’ve dumbed a lot of stuff down because producers are dumb, actors are dumb, writers are dumb, audience members are dumb. Everybody just wants to be dumb because you get to be famous…

“People say to me, ‘How come you always choose interesting roles?’ and I’m like, I don’t know, maybe a more interesting perspective on the world? Again, I think having been brought up with my sister makes me look at things in a way where I can’t be flippant about. I can’t be too flippant about stuff. I’ve tried to be more flippant, I’ve tried to just go on and play an outright baddie for the sake of it and tried to understand what it is to just be a baddie in a sort of entertainment kind of movie, but I’d walk away from that in the end and go, ‘Yeah, okay, I don’t need to keep doing that, I’d rather do things that actually wake people up a little bit,’” he said.

When asked about his motivations behind involvement in works that are female-fronted or female-centric or which generally embrace “gender balance,” Guy said, “As far as the gender stuff, look, women having more of a place in cinema, more of a place in life generally… yes, we need to talk about how important that is, but on some level, we don’t need to talk about how important it is. We know how important it is! It’s so crazy that it’s even like, ‘Is it important for women to sort of play leading roles?’ and ‘I don’t know, let me think about that. Maybe, yeah occasionally. Occasionally, if a woman gets to play a leading role, maybe that’s you know…’

“Anyway, I’m a bit cynical about all that sort of stuff. But I just think that when it comes to something like this and when you come to an actor like Kate who’s prepared, she’ll do anything and she’ll get down and be real, which is what really most actors, I think, want. If you question most actors — there are some who just live in the world of vanity up here, they’re not really the actors that I write — but if you speak to most actors who have much job as we would say, they want things to be equal. They just want to get down, understand and portray psychology, whether it comes from a man or a woman, or anyone in the LGBTQIA+ arena… I think, the important stuff is psychology, it’s behavior, it’s just all of us relating to each other. But it is a male-dominated world and that must change. Hopefully, a show like this (Mare of Easttown) changes things, you know.”

*****
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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