Daily Beast has a must read interview with Guy Pearce. He talks not only about The Rover and working with Robert Pattinson but his extensive career and so much more. Don’t miss it.
Both a character actor and a leading man, the chameleon-like Guy Pearce has played an array of roles that range from drag queens to repressed cops and macho action heroes. His most recent project, David Michôd’s The Rover, is a post-apocalyptic thriller shot in the Australian desert that premiered Sunday at Cannes at what was termed a “midnight screening,” even though the actual screening time turned out to be 10:30 p.m. And Pearce’s gripping performance as Eric, a bitter man at the end of his tether, has been universally praised. Most of the press has also been impressed with Pearce’s on-screen rapport with Robert Pattinson, who plays Rey, a terrified, vulnerable man who becomes Eric’s needy sidekick as they wander the barren landscape in search of a stolen car.
The Daily Beast met up with Pearce on Tuesday at Cannes’ Grand Hyatt Martinez Hotel. An amiable interviewee, he was more than willing to chat about acting technique, his wide range of screen roles, and much more.
Eric in The Rover is a much different role than the cop you played in David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom.
Totally, but I was excited to do this because I think he’s such an interesting director. I got into some discussions with him to learn more about this man named Eric that he wanted me to play because you really don’t get a sense of who he is in the script. It was important to get a sense of who Eric had been, because, as you see in the film, so much of who he was has been broken and stripped away.
I was wondering if you had constructed some kind of backstory for him.
It wasn’t even as literal or clear as being able to even call it a backstory. It was more of whether he had been a moral man, how much humanity he had, and what, just so I could see a little bit of a trajectory, his feelings were about the world around him collapsing.
You didn’t need an entire biography.
No, because we don’t live every day remembering that stuff. My focus was more on how to get the moments right at the time. It’s not unlike the role I played in Memento—obviously in Memento, I’ve forgotten everything so I just need to know about the character from moment to moment. But it’s just about your own confidence, feeling like you can step into that odd abyss confidently because you’ve at least explored what was there once and now it’s gone. On one level, Memento was one of the easiest jobs I’ve done since I didn’t really have to think about what went on before and what went on after.
So you could literally be “in the moment.”
That’s right. It was actually an interesting acting exercise. And, funnily enough, for this character in The Rover, although it’s very different obviously, he’s also someone who’s reached the end of the line and has nothing left to live for. He’s stripped of everything. It’s very bleak stuff.
“Ten Years After the Collapse” is the film’s opening title. Did the writers give you any idea what precipitated this collapse—perhaps a nuclear war or environmental devastation?
Nothing so specific, although I had an understanding of what those possibilities might have been. And we talked about it. But David didn’t seem to think it mattered. It’s a collapse, and if you respond to it emotionally (which is really the only way I respond to anything) you’ll get into the role, whether it’s a financial collapse, a war, famine, whatever. To me, it was probably a combination of all of those things. Actually, we’re seeing this sort of thing around the world already in various countries.
Your uneasy relationship with Robert Pattinson jump-starts the narrative.
Yeah, he was lovely and I was so impressed with what he did in the film. I was touched by the vulnerability of his character. He’s almost like a little kid or a vulnerable animal that needs to be looked after. You can’t help but empathize with him. And then it meant that I knew the power that I, as Eric, could exert over him—even in the few first moments when I speak to him. I just let him know that he means nothing to me. I guess I’m trying to deny what he does mean to me and I end up having to take him with me to find his brother. I just have to let him know that he means nothing to me, personally. It’s a way of him asking if we can connect and me more or less responding “absolutely no way.”
There’s almost a sort of Of Mice and Men dynamic between the two of you.
That’s right, particularly because of his Southern accent.
Click HERE to read the entire interview!