Guy Pearce has become somewhat of a fixture in trendy LA hotels, promoting films that are not exactly blockbuster material. This time, he was discussing Two Brothers, the new Jean-Jacques Annaud film that chronicles the lives of two tigers, from childhood to adulthood, as they do battle with human imperialism in Cambodia.
It’s hardly Spider-Man territory, but the film has already been a huge success in France, and for Pearce, choosing the right role or project has little to do with long term commercialism. Pearce has his own reasons for choosing a film as unique as 2 Brothers, a film that an A-list Hollywood star would more than likely turn down.
“It is different things for different jobs and obviously I am feeling different things at different times,” Pearce explains. “So I don’t necessarily have that same desire anymore to do Time Machine for example, because I have experienced that now. There are more questions that I need to have answered before I say yes to a movie now,” Pearce adds laughingly, referring to the drubbing The Time Machine received when released.
“There was a series of things that drew me to this [Two Brothers], such as just the film itself, particularly the way it was. I really got a sense that it was going to be something quite unique and sort of odd in a way. Because I had been trying to take some time off and I had managed to take about six months off, this came along, one of my cats had just died and I had just been on a holiday with my wife to Thailand and funnily enough Cambodia and I got back from there and I got this script, so I was swimming in all this emotion of my cat having died,” Pearce half-laughingly concedes.
Pearce says that he wasn’t sure what kind of film Two Brothers would end up becoming, but having seen the international version of the film, says “it has a real fable childlike quality to it, but also a real sense of reality to it as well, I think, because of the footage of the tigers and getting inside their head, will hopefully resonate with people more than just for the time that they’re watching the movie.”
Actors do films for a variety of reasons. For Guy, in the case of Two Brothers, he admits that he gained more by doing the film than merely playing a character. “I mean, it certainly became about playing the character at some point, but my draw to it was I think the lack of importance of the characters in the film or the lack of focus on the characters. I am really happy to be a cog in a really interesting machine, rather that being the captain of the machine.”
Yet films like Two Brothers are still being released by a giant corporation, competing with the more special effects extravaganzas that cater for today’s adolescent audiences. Pearce hopes that Two Brothers “might be some kind of antidote to that in a way, but I don’t really know because I don’t really know what else there is out there to be quite honest. I guess, on one level it is that obvious family thing where parents can take kids to a film who are too young to see Van Helsing, Troy or whatever who might get something out of this film as well as the parents being able to get something out of it as well. I am really bad at trying to figure out marketing.”
Pearce can be forgiven, however, for being a bit cynical about the movie game here in Hollywood. The last time he was here, we spoke at length about a little-known Indie film, A Slipping Down Life, which he shot in 1999, and only opened this year. Asked how easy it has been for the actor to be less cynical, Pearce smiles. “I have gotten a lot better because, I realize, I was very cynical when I first came here. I found the expectations of Hollywood a little bit bullyish and, I really struggled with the notion of having to live here, finding it a bit tricky to kind of get my footing when I first came here, so I felt very anti-LA and Hollywood, even though I was prepared to keep working here and keep working in interesting stuff. So I really tried to work at not being cynical about that so I have to try to figure out a better way to exist in LA and not be so work-orientated. I have met great people along the way so that has kind of eased things, so I feel that these days I am always trying to work out how not to be cynical about something but just to understand: ok, that didn’t work because of that, that got lost because they did that and maybe I screwed up here in my performance. I think I just need to accept that stuff before I can start working out how to improve that and if ultimately all I can improve is my performances then so be it.”
Pearce may well have succumbed post-LA Confidential, to stardom, but says that he has more than happy not to have followed the Russell Crowe route. “I definitely don’t want to be at the top of the A list,” says the emphatic actor.
Guy still calls Melbourne, Australia, home, and is philosophical about keeping a realistic perspective by remaining based in Australia. “I don’t even know that it is such a rational or an intellectual analysis of it. I just feel like that is where I want to be. I don’t feel comfortable when I am away from there and I can’t imagine wanting leave there. I mean, Kate [Kate Mestitz, his wife] and I sort of joke, about just living in London, and how strange that would seem. I think it relates to a youthfulness, or an eagerness and because I experienced a whole lot of ooh aah when I was doing [TV’s soap opera] Neighbours, I have grown through that so now if I’m going to keep working as an actor I only want it to work like this.”
Still very happily married, Pearce says that his marriage is due to his partner. “I put it all down to Kate, who is an extraordinary person in that she is very honest and very open about what she wants and I am as well. So we are very accepting of what has to be done or time that has to be spent apart etc. and she is pretty heavily involved in her study now, studying psychology and social work. So, without any derogatory intention toward Kate, it is sort of at the point sometimes where I go – come on, we are going to go off to LA to do this thing and she is like yeah, yeah, bye I am busy writing my essay. She has got a lot going on for herself and we just feel like we have got a very deep connection that doesn’t always require being in the same room together.”
Pearce loves not being married to someone in the film industry, which ultimately puts the 36-year old’s life in a deepening perspective. “I love getting away from the industry when it is time to get away from it. When I have played a character, I don’t want to watch films, or have anything to do with films, but want to play in the garden, reconnect and listen to music and be me.”
Guy finally concedes that these are definitely the best of times for him, both personally and professionally. “because I am always reflecting on what’s gone before and what I can learn from it, I suppose. But I feel really good now because I am recharged.”