Friday, May 29, 2015

Interview: Guy Pearce

In town to promote Andrew Bujalski's Results, Guy Pearce was articulate, seemingly unguarded, and quietly enthusiastic as we talked this week at the Crosby Hotel. Pearce's character, a gym owner and manager named Trevor, is one of three main characters who spar, spark, and bond throughout the film, which Slant's Chuck Bowen praised as the "rare romantic comedy that's hopeful without resorting to condescending, deadening platitude, temporarily lending respectability to the phrase 'life-affirming.'" A fan of his director's "slightly odd, asymmetrical rhythm," Pearce spoke of finding just the right balance between sharpness and cluelessness for Trevor, and about why it was a relief to play the part in his own Ozzie accent. He also had plenty to say about why Tom Hardy is the new Brando.

You usually play characters who are very self-aware and smart and capable, but Trevor is pretty clueless, in a sweet and funny way. Was it fun to play a bit of a dim bulb for a change? Or did you not think of him that way?
Yeah, yeah, I do. [laughs] Andrew said, "I don't want him to be too dumb." I said, "No, but in all my years of going to gyms and seeing gym junkies and trainers, there's a real sharpness to them, there's a real confidence about spreading the word about fitness and stuff, but there's a slight blind spot. And I'm interested in that blind spot." He said, "So am I," so that was great.

There's something about that fixation on fitness, almost to a religious extent, for a lot of those guys, where to me they're hiding a lot of emotional stuff, whether they know it or not. And we all know that if we go through a difficult time in life we tend to do things to assist getting through, and that might be eating too much, drinking too much, or suddenly starting to get really fit, or we obsess over things. I get the thing about obsessing over fitness, because I've been there myself. So it was a really interesting world for me to delve into, because it's a world I've known, on and off, for many years. I mean, I won a bodybuilding competition [Mr. Junior Victoria] when I was 16, 30-odd years ago.

And it's interesting because it wasn't a world that Andrew was very familiar with. He said he'd put on a bit of weight after one of the last films he had worked on, so he entered a gym in Austin to work out and get fit and started to examine that world. Andrew's so delightful to work with. He's so insightful. His interests are human dynamics, and the ways in which we try to survive every moment of every day, and our levels of consciousness, and the things in our subconscious that we either try to repress or are blissfully unaware of. Or we're unhappy about things and we don't know why. All that kind of stuff, the complexities of which hit us every five minutes.

At the same time, there's a nice kind of comic undertone in his work, which isn't in too many of your other movies.

Yeah, that's right. I think a lot of the stuff I've done before is fairly earnest and kind of serious and miserable—and I love that as well. I really do. I love the weight of the world that we feel in them, because I can feel that in my own life. But as I get older, I enjoy feeling a bit lighter about things too. And it was funny when Andrew asked me to play Trevor as an Australian. I was picturing him as some American guy. I was resistant at first, but I did a bit of work on it and got my head around it. In a way, it's a relief not to have to put on an accent, 'cause then you can do all sorts of stuff that just naturally falls out of your mouth, without thinking what shape it's going to be. Is it "ahr" or is it "arrrr," you know? I love doing accents, but it's fucking hard work sometimes. At times, it just gets in the way. I can't really improvise when I'm doing an accent. Read the rest in Slant Magazine


  1. I admire Guy Pearce's modesty in your interview; he has great talent. Have you seen Tom Hardy in the British series Peaky Blinders? He's awesome, as is the series.

  2. Pearce really is thoughtful and kind of self-effacing without seeming at all smarmy or insincere about it. It's more that he just gets genuinely enthusiastic about other people, for reasons that he's really good at articulating. And yes, both he and Hardy are amazingly talented. i haven't seen Peaky Blinders, so thanks for that tip -- I'll look for it.