Guy Pearce talks acting, mad scientist roles and Bloodshot with STACK.
A native of Geelong, Victoria, Guy Pearce is one of our busiest actors. Like many of his contemporaries, he honed his craft at an early age with a stint on Neighbours from 1986-89 (and later, Home Away), before making his film debut in the Australian music drama Heaven Tonight in 1990.
Following a memorable performance as drag queen Adam/Felicia in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), he hit the Hollywood big time in Curtis Hanson’s acclaimed crime drama L.A. Confidential (1997) and Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending Memento (2000).
Pearce’s resume of film and TV appearances is lengthy and diverse, spanning local productions like The Proposition (2005) and Animal Kingdom (2010), and US work in The Hurt Locker (2008) and Prometheus (2012).
Having traversed a variety of genres and characters over the last 30 years, does he ever find it challenging to transition from one to another?
“As long as there’s enough time in between. If I go from one job to another too quickly, that can be a little dangerous because you can bring some of the previous character into your current character,” he tells STACK. “So I find it’s good to be myself for a while, regroup, and then find a new character separate from the one I’ve done previously.”
When we ask if he has a preference for a particular genre, Pearce says it’s ultimately about the character. “It’s whether I feel I can do something genuinely – give a character the honesty it deserves. Years ago I was much less inclined to do things that felt like popcorn movies… just entertainment. I think I was trying to prove a point to myself. Whereas these days I feel a lot more confident about what I’m capable of doing. I’m just really open to what the universe brings. If it’s a sci-fi film or a straight drama or comedy, then great!”
He has also ventured into the world of superheroes with Marvel’s Iron Man 3 (2013) and now Bloodshot alongside Vin Diesel’s supersoldier, whose memories have been manipulated.
Indeed, the concept of Bloodshot reminded Pearce of his role in Memento. “There’s disconnect between who we think we are and the memories that we have,” he explains. “In Bloodshot we look at the idea that Vin’s character’s memories are being created for him, and I saw a slightly futuristic, highly technological version of Memento there.”
Moreover, parallels can be drawn between his character in Iron Man 3, Aldrich Killian, and Dr. Emil Harting in Bloodshot. What is it he likes about playing mad scientist roles?
“The idea of playing someone who is seemingly pulling the strings, some sort of godlike figure, is an idea that fascinates me. It could be because I have no charge over anybody, so maybe this is a chance to feel like I’ve got some sense of control,” he laughs. “I can see the link between Killian and Emil Harting, but they are different personalities.”
When we pitch the idea of an all-Australian superhero and what his qualities might be, Pearce pauses to consider. “There would have to be some good Aussie qualities – he’d probably have to barrack for an Aussie Rules football team, and I’m sure he would drink beer,” he offers. “I’d have to think about it, but there’s bound to be one we could create. I may be a bit too old for it now though, but we’ll see.”
Bloodshot is out on June 3