Quiet intensity; cheekbones you could hang a coat on; athletic physique. Guy Pearce has got all the attributes to play an action hero, but until now, it’s one type of role that’s escaped him.
Upcoming sci-fi film Lockout, which sees the 44-year-old Australian tasked with rescuing the US president’s daughter from a space jail overrun by violent inmates, fills that gap in his CV. And, as Pearce tells us, he was more than ready…
Were you physically prepared for the film when you read the script?
There was a bit of bulking up to do before shooting, but I was fit enough. I eat pretty healthily anyway, so it was a matter of eating more. I play an army marine sort of chap, so I thought it was important that I look like one, and they can be big. It was about getting into weight training, relying on some past experiences…
Believe it or not, I was a bodybuilder as a teenager for a short while, so it was matter of drawing on those years. Also, it’s not as if I haven’t been to the gym in all those years. It’s just the roles I’ve previously had haven’t needed to show this.
The villain of the film is played by Joe Gilgun, who in the UK we know as Woody from This Is England. Have you seen it?
I’ve seen bits of it, but unfortunately not all of it. I liked what I saw. And he was intense in this. He certainly wasn’t going around shooting anybody or anything like that, but he was a passionate guy who was also a lot of fun to be around. We didn’t get to hang out too much, sadly. When I’m working, I find that I usually socialise at the beginning and at the wrap party, but not the bit in the middle.
You’ve said your part in Prometheus is no longer than a minute. Does that mean it’s shorter than the viral that went out?
Ah, it’s probably a little longer than that. It’s a good part. It’s always important to find interesting characters as, ultimately, I want to be moved by the part. I need to know it has integrity. It’s not the size of a role that matters to me.
How close is the connection to Alien?
Obviously this one has connections to the films before it, given that my character’s called Peter Weyland and is head of Weyland Industries. Alien fans will know it’s a nod to what’s gone before, but to call the film a prequel would be to limit it somewhat.
Perhaps one benefit of a smaller role is to avoid any nude scenes with Michael Fassbender?
[Laughs] His performance in Shame was great. I always find what he does compelling. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.
Your mother once ran a deer farm. Have you ever skinned a deer?
[Laughs] No I haven’t, it wasn’t for the meat, it was for the antler. I do have other man skills, though. Not that you’d be impressed by any of them.
I quite like carpentry. There’s nothing I’m particularly good at building, I’m just dependable at fixing what needs to be looked at in the house.
Are you a man’s man, then?
Nah, I’m not at all like your typical Aussie bloke. I must be the only Aussie who doesn’t drink beer. I just don’t like the taste.
You write and play music. Ever thought about using your status to play with a musical idol?
I don’t think my skill levels on guitar and vocals are worthy of playing with any credible musician [laughs], so I think it’s safer that my musical output was kept within the confines of my own home.
You played Houdini in 2007’s Death Defying Acts. Still got any party tricks up your sleeve?
Unless you put me in chains I’m unsure if I could remember them. I tend to stay low-key at parties, so that’d probably be my trick — disappearing.
Lockout is at cinemas nationwide from 20 April
(Image: All Star)