Guy Pearce Talks To CBM about New Film LOCKOUT And More!
Comic Book movie sits down with Guy Pearce for a roundtable Q&A about his new Sci-Fi action movie Lockout. Pearce also answers some questions about Prometheus and working with Christopher Nolan!
Comic Book movie sits down with Guy Pearce for a roundtable Q&A about his new Sci-Fi action movie "Lockout". Pearce also some answers some questions about Prometheus and working with Christopher Nolan!
Audio version (turn up the volume we had some problems boosting it up)
Q: There was a very multicultural cast and crew…
Guy Pierce: It was fascinating! Absolutely fascinating. Surprisingly though – I don’t know why I should be surprised, but all the Serbs spoke very good English so they were most accommodating. Trying to understand some of the translations…I would see the Irish director say something to the French first and then the French first would say it to the Serbian lighting team and I would think ‘no, that’s not what the Irish director said.’ Or he’d say it to the French stunt team and I’d say ‘no, I recon that’s gone a bit wrong.’ I’d have to go over to the French stunt team and go, ‘that’s not what he wanted. What he wanted was you to do this and this.’ So I was the translator.
Q: I couldn’t believe it when I saw you because you were so bulked up….
I went to the gym and I…
*Laughs* Yeah popping steroids…No, it was a healthy regime of – I say ‘healthy’ sarcastically – healthy regime of protein powder and lots of Serbian meat and you know, lifting weights at a Serbian gym.
Q: What do you think of the experiments on human beings in this movie?
GP: Ah well…I think it’s terrible that that stuff’s going on, I mean who knows if that’s going on or not…is that what you mean? I think if stuff like that’s happening then it’s good to be stopped I suppose.
Q: Do you see Snow as a classic anti-hero? The guy who’s way smarter than everyone else on screen, but at the same time is cynical and superficial and actually a romantic at heart?
GP: Yes, you all of them. *Laughs* I don’t know that he seems smarter than anyone else in the room. I don’t think he as smarter than Maggie [Grace]’s character by any means, but he’s obviously a misogynist on some sort of level so Maggie’s smarts kind of get shoved aside a little bit. But I think the typical action hero who is sort of earnest and takes themselves very seriously is not what [directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger] wanted. They made it very clear from the beginning that they were after somebody who was irreverent and a little tired of all of this and really scared of heights and you know, kind of found this whole thing…that he’s kind of passed all of this now. But really, in the situation that he’s in, he’s somebody with tremendous skill and somebody who is capable of executing an escape if need be. So it was finding that balance between somebody who was capable and somebody who didn’t care.
Q: You did this movie so well…
GP: Well thank you very much!
Q: Did Luc Basson explain to you why he wanted you on this film?
GP: He might’ve, but I can’t really remember to be honest…
Q: Nobody would really say ‘Guy Pierce, action hero’
Q: Not right away, anyway…
GP: I’m trying to remember back to the conversation…I met with him just before I went off to do Mildred Pierce and…I can’t really remember the conversation other than him explaining the character to me. Then when I was in New York doing Mildred, we – I met with Stephen and James and I really got a sense from them the humor and irreverence, I guess. Or, not so much the ‘humor’ but…Stephen said ‘I want a leading guy who we can laugh at and laugh with. Who…he kind of thinks he’s pretty funny himself, but really he’s probably more troubled than he gives himself credit for and allows himself to be so he masks that with humor being a smart-aleck.
Q: The opening sequence could be something out of Marlo [sic]…
GP: Yeah, just going from those extremes of someone who was getting belted as hard as he was getting belted and clearly is tough enough…and there are those guys out there who are just built like tanks and can take a beating. They don’t really crumble under that sort of pressure…and to still maintain a sense of humor were two ends of the spectrum that they wanted to get across and clearly wanted to establish that in the beginning. It was made pretty clear to me and that’s what I found interesting about it. I didn’t want to play…I’ve not really been asked to play action heroes before, but I’ve been asked to play sort of heroic characters before and things and sometimes they are a bit too serious. If you are going to do an action-oriented film, it needs to be super clever or at least a bit funny or have something going for it other than just straight action. I personally don’t get a lot out of that so…I enjoyed where his head was at. I loved the fact that really he was really only going out to MS-1 to rescue his friend. He didn’t give a shit about the President’s daughter. The most important woman in the world is the president’s daughter and he’s not really…not to him.
Q: I really liked this character! I was hoping to see more!
GP: That means I’d have to go back to the gym, though!
Q: Would you do a sequel if they asked?
GP: *Laughs* Well, they can do prosthetic things now. You know, you can wear an entire plastic suit that looks like…I mean look at Batman. He looks ripped…
Q: But that’s not flesh…We see your arms. Were they fake arms?
GP: No, they were real arms. *Laughs* I’m sure these days they could do fake arms that look real.
Q: Digital arms.!
GP: Where are my digital arms, dammit? *laughs*
Q: Since I’ve seen this, people have mentioned Die Hard and Escape from New York. Did you think of these characters when you were doing this?
GP: I didn’t, no. I’m sure subconsciously all of those Bruce Willis-type characters that he’s played and various characters like that sit somewhere in the back of your psyche, but I find it best not to delve back into that stuff too much. Otherwise it does feel like a sort of plagiaristic act. I’m always struggling to feel originally what I’m doing anyway. I remember when I did Mildred Pierce, Todd [Haynes] said to us ‘by all mean have a look at the original film, but it’s nothing like what we’re going to do’ and I watched the entire thing and Kate [Winslet] I know watched it for about ten minutes and went ‘yep, aright that’s enough, don’t need to see it.’ Because, you know, I think that sometimes that sort of thing can go a bit wrong for you and it’s within two presents and you’re fighting against anything that’s slightly similar and you end up screwing yourself up a little bit. But I can see the connection. I haven’t seen Escape from New York for a long time, so I don’t really remember it that well, but I do remember Bruce Willis and his performances in various things.
Q: Aside from the protein powder and Serbian meats, what was involved in the physical training for this? Did you have to learn a martial art?
GP: No, no. I mean I’ve done enough stunts throughout my life. I mean we had to learn the choreography of the fights and such. You know there’s that sequence, which keeps being referred to in the film, which is in the bathroom in the hotel room…the sequence where it’s misunderstood that I shoot the guy that they think I shoot so…
Q: The opening sequence?
GP: That’s right. That fight scene where we end up in the bath and I’m hitting him across the head with a toilet seat etcetera, that was a highly choreographed…like a dance, I suppose. So we had to learn that as such, but I wasn’t having to learn martial arts or anything like that, you know? It was more about staying flexible, going to the gym, and I’m fairly coordinated.
Q: This would have been fairly difficult to do if you had injured yourself…
GP: And I did injure myself. Every week, there was some injury, not necessarily major injuries, but I would pull a muscle in my leg or I’d…I fired a gun at one point in this tiny little tunnel – Maggie [Grace] and I had this big sequence where we were crawling through these low tunnels – and I shot somebody and the bullet casing flew out of the gun and ricocheted off the roof and went straight down the back of my shirt. And of course I had that flack vest on which was kind of tricky to get off and the casing was really hot…
Q: So it was burning you?
GP: It burnt a mark on my back the shape of a bullet casing, which I think is gone now. So that happened one week. Every week, literally every week…I should have brought my diary because every week there was something that happened.
Q: When something like that happens, do you let it all go and just start screaming?
GP: I actually did, yes. *Laughs* And they have me on film going ‘ahhh ahhh ahhh ahhh!’ I’m so nervous that’s going to be on the DVD.
Q: When you were describing that choreographed fight, did they film it at the end in case you got hurt and they could use a stunt double
GP: No, they pretty much work to the schedule of what’s possible as far as setting up things in different stu – because it was all done in studio, basically. We did a couple of things in the streets in Serbia, but it was basically all done in studio. No, I mean I think the hope is that we’re not going to get hurt and…I’ll last through the film.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about Maggie?
GP: Oh yeah, I mean she was great. She was an absolute delight. She’s lovely and delightful and we connected very easily when we first met because…
Q: It shows on screen, big time.
GP: Does it? We she’s so…she’s such a smart girl and she…you know, she’s got a lovely sense of humor, herself and she’s so…gorgeous and lovely to be around and she really just wanted to make sure that everything we did was…It’s a fun piece; it’s kind on a fun piece, it’s kind of a big piece of entertainment, really. Within that, as characters, we’re playing real people and you’re trying to find the credibility and I think for her, particularly, I mean, she’s playing a character who’s out there on a particular mission and then she’s caught in this harrowing mission, whereas the character I’m playing…he’s been in harrowing situations before, so he can be a little bit more…relaxed about it, for lack of a better word. So Maggie was just wanting to make sure that everything we did had credibility and that she didn’t look like she
was panicking more than she should be or that she was panicking enough when, you know…and that everything kind of looked as it should. We had a lot of conversations about…just keeping each other supported through everything we did. She was a great one for that. She was as ready to give support as she needed it. I love it when you work with actors and you feel like you have a kind of connection so we had a lovely time together.
Q: She said there was a make-out scene at the very end that you had to do many different versions of…The “Casablanca walk-away”
GP: That’s right, I guess it is an almost Casablanca thing. There was a little bit of scripted stuff but not enough for us to fill in the 200 meters we had to walk down this road. Yeah, we had a bit of improvising going on which was kind of fun.
Q: Could you talk about Prometheus?
GP: Not a lot, I can’t. Because there’s still…
Q: They’ll sue you?
GP: They’ll sue me, that’s right. I’ll never work in this town again. So…I can’t really, to be honest. *laughs* We’ve obviously seen the thing online of my character doing the TED lecture which I think was a way to – which I think is really clever – which is a way to establish some of the ideas and themes that are in the film in a really subliminal…I mean they’ve kind of directed it, but until you’ve watched the film, you don’t know…and I can’t give them away, unfortunately.
Q: It’s so hard to keep a secret these days.
GP: It is hard to keep secrets. I’m pretty good at keeping secrets, but it is hard. *laughs* That’s the other thing, they’re still working out their marketing strategy; what they want to be able to say about it, what they don’t. Obviously everyone’s talking about it like it’s an Alien prequel.
Q: Which he came out and said…they confirmed…
GP: No, they’re basically saying it’s not. You can connect the dots to the Alien films, but it’s far more a standalone film. The ideas and themes in the film actually far outweigh any of the Alien films. It’s fascinating, I have to say. Obviously the Weyland character is there. You know about Weyland in the original films, but they’re very keen to push that it’s not just an Alien prequel, but it’s actually something far grander that that, I suppose.
Q: Did that role just come to you? Did your agent just hear about it and ask you?
GP: Yeah, pretty much. It’s not like Ridley [Scott] came straight to me by any means. It was a role that…I think they established some of the other roles first, and Chris, my agent, was obviously very keen for Ridley and I to meet. I think we were scheduled to meet anyway to talk about just a variety of things, and it was just one of those serendipitous things that kind of worked out, so it’s wasn’t a direct offer, no.
Q: Do you think this is going to be the ‘sci-fi’ period of your career?
GP: *laughs* Clearly!
Q: Are you going to be going to Comic-Con now?
GP: I went to Comic Con, funnily enough, last…when is Comic Con? Ok, so I went last year. I went with Guillermo del Toro’s film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, but of course everybody went, ‘don’t be afraid of the…Let’s talk about Prometheus.’ So I’m sure they’ll want us to go back…the film comes out in June. And in fact, I think Ridley and Charlize [Theron] did something at Comic Con last year, after. I knew they were there, but I…I don’t think I’d shot…I must have shot. I think it was around the time that I started shooting for Prometheus.
Q: Do you think it’ll ever go to Cannes?
GP: No idea.
Q: Nobody’s said ‘book these days on your calendar?’
Q: Yeah they do. They’d want you there if they…
GP: Not that I know of Cannes at this time. Cannes is the middle of May? Well they’re talking of us doing promotional stuff toward the end of May, so.
Q: What are you doing now?
GP: Having a break. Taking six months off. I’ve worked way too much in the last too years and I’m just sort of blank. So I read scripts and sort of glaze over at the moment. I need to just go and be me for a while.
Q: Well, you’ve always done that right?
GP: Yeah, I mean you just get to a point where you become vacuous and there’s nothing to offer. I just can’t be anyone else – I don’t have the energy for being anyone else other than me. And it’s really important. People say ‘yeah but just read this one script’ and I’m like, ‘no. There’s no point in me reading this script because I’ll resent it.’ I won’t actually get anything from it. So yeah, I’m taking some time off. Other than doing this, which is…I still get to be me.
Q: How are you feeling getting older? Do you have those moments where you look about at where you were?
GP: Absolutely. I definitely think that you feel yourself mature, you feel yourself…you look back at things from the past and go, ‘ok, I’d do that differently now then how I would have done it then.’ That’s the best thing about getting older is being broader minded about things and being able to deal with things better. I used to struggle with work a lot years ago and…
Q: You mean you were self-critical?
GP: Well, all sorts of things, really. I just found the whole thing kind of daft, really. I needed to step back and find the validity in it and look at it from a mature point of view. I mean I’ve worked as an actor since I was a kid, so I think I just continued on and before I knew it, I was having this career as an actor, but it was all by the decision of an eight year old. I needed to step back and go, ‘hang on a second.’ As a 30 year old, or however old I was at the time…find its worth and find the importance in it, if there was any.
Q: So it was a mid-life crisis ten years too early.
GP: I think so, yeah. *laughs* Well, because I’d started my working life when I was eight instead of eighteen, it happened ten years before it should have.
Q: Is that why you still live in Australia?
GP: Well, that’s not why. I jut love Australia, so there’s no reason for me to move, really. I do enjoy the distance. I do enjoy when I finish work, being able to go home, and not being in the office still. There’s just no reason for me to leave.
Q: Any plans to work with Nolan again?
GP: No plans at this stage. He’s obviously a brilliant guy, so it would be great.
Q: Is there any truth to the rumor that you were going to be one of the Batman villains?
GP: It was pretty much rumor. I did talk to him about one of the characters, but only vaguely. I think those rumors had started before that anyway. As soon as people knew he was doing Batman, I think people just linked me to him anyway.
Q: Can you say what character it was?
GP: It was the Liam Neeson character. But I was too young.
Q: WAY too young.
GP: *laughs* WAY too young…too handsome, too young…too talented. They needed this shlubbly old kind of…’every man.’ *laughs and leans in* Sorry, Liam, that’s not true. You know I love you.
Q: At this point in your life, is there anything you’ve set your eyes on? Certain genre, direct, anything?
GP: No, I really just…I really thrive on maintaining openness to the Universe and seeing what it brings. I find that the surprise in that is what really keeps me going and it’s what…Maybe that’s sort of immature, maybe that’s a part of me that needs to change too, but at the same time, I don’t think so. I think that’s a big part of where…that spontaneity is where I find inspiration. I don’t have an ideal character that I want to play. I don’t have a desire to specifically go and do something or try something I’ve not tried before. I feel like every time I read scripts and every time I choose a new job, it’s trying something I haven’t tried before, to a certain degree.
Q: You could be on one of those crazy Australian TV shows…
GP: Yes, that’s right. A reality cooking in space show. Swimming with sharks whilst cooking in space in Australia with Guy Pierce. ‘Come do it now!’ *laughs*
Q: Was this originally called Breakout?
GP: It was always Lockout in the time that I’ve been connected to it. It may have been before that, but not that I know of.
Q: Are you signed to do a sequel with this?
GP: I can’t remember, to be honest. Probably. *laughs*
Q: Oh Guy, you’re so career-oriented!
GP: *laughs* I know, aren’t I just? I’m sure I have a caveat over the script or something like that.
Q: Pending approval.
GP: Right. If it’s not funny enough or I have to be too buff. *laughs*
Q: Was the smoking hard for you in this?
GP: No, I mean smoking fun, you know? *laughs*
Q: Do you smoke?
GP: I used to. It’s a horrible thing to do, but people do it because they love it. No I don’t enjoy smoking anymore. Usually now they give you those horrible herbal cigarettes. You might as well smoke real cigarettes because they make you sick anyway.
Q: Thank you so much.
GP: Thank you!
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