Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Cannes: Guy Pearce Talks Playing Camp & Shaving His Eyebrows In 'Lawless'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 25, 2012 at 11:01AM

It takes a fair amount of talent to appear in a film alongside practiced scene-stealers like Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf. But of course, as audiences have been aware of for getting on two decades, since he came to attention in "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert," Guy Pearce is possessed of an unusual amount of talent.
4
Guy Pearce Lawless

It takes a fair amount of talent to appear in a film alongside practiced scene-stealers like Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Clarke and Shia LaBeouf. But of course, as audiences have been aware for nearly two decades, since he came to attention in "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert," Guy Pearce is possessed of an unusual amount of talent.

While he's had a few leading man roles (notably in Christopher Nolan's "Memento"), it's in supporting parts where Pearce has truly made an impression -- see "Animal Kingdom," "The King's Speech" and "Mildred Pierce." And he's got a doozy of one in John Hillcoat's "Lawless," as Charlie Rakes, a sneering, violent marshall who aims to make life hell for the bootleggin' Bondurant brothers.

It's only the mid-point of a banner year for Pearce, who already starred in the surprisingly enjoyable "Lockout," will shortly be seen in "Prometheus," and has Drake Doremus' next film on the way too (have a look here to see what he said about that project). Before Pearce left Cannes, where "Lawless" premiered this week, to go and shoot "Iron Man 3," he sat down with Playlist correspondent Aaron Hillis to talk about his third film with Hillcoat, the origins of his bizarre character, and how he feels about his current run of fortune.

This is one of the most villainous characters I've seen in a long time. How much of the physicality and look came from the book or the script, or from you?
I didn't read the book, because the guys said to me that Rakes is quite different then he was in the book. In the book he was a local, and I think there was another character who had come in from out of town. So they kind of took Rakes' character and combined it with the guy who had come in from out of town and so that created a really different dynamic. So, that's where it starts off in the script, so I stayed away from the book. The character was so particular and so present. You know, his sort of disdain for this disgusting town that he had come to and these... dirty, vile, animals that he had to now face. I think it was clearer in the script then in the finished film, there's lots of bits and pieces that have been cut out, but we still get a clear picture that he is sort of an alien in this territory. The character that you see is the character that I imagine when I read him and there were particular references in the script to him dying his hair, and being very particular about his gloves, and Nick [Cave, who wrote the screenplay] would talk to me on the phone and say, "You know he's so pristine and he's so disgusted by it, by all of this stuff around him and yet he's so violent as well." I certainly didn't create anything new or invent anything really. Although it was my decision to shave my eyebrows off and shave a part into my hair you know?

Really, that was you?
Yeah, I just thought in the strangeness of this, I didn't want him to be the clean cut city guy who's a bit fucking crazy. The way Nick talked about him was he was this strange creature that turns up, so I wanted him to be a strange creature that turns up. In the discussions about hair and the look and the sort of severity and his sort of vanity and ego, I just wanted to see how far we could take that stuff, so I did send John [Hillcoat] a picture of me with shaved eyebrows that made him a bit nervous.

When you have a character as flamboyant as this, I'm sure there's not an exact science but what are the processes to figure out how far you can stretch it to not turn it into camp.
Well, I think he is camp.

I think the character is camp, but you don't play it as camp.
No, sure. That's where I rely on John, he's a great director and a good barometer. If you go too far John will certainly let you know, he's very clear, but also incredibly encouraging. He has a great sort of inspired kind of quality so he's always wanting you to give as much as you can possibly give, and he'll certainly as I say bring it down if you take it too far. So that's the trick on any job really to be constantly reminded of the movie arena, and make sure you're in the right one. Actors have a tendency to go over the top anyway I mean I can't speak on behalf of everyone, I'm sure Cate Blanchett would argue with me on that. She's extraordinary, but for the rest of us we can tend to go over the top. I'm always naturally trying to find the reality in what I'm doing anyway.

I did an Adam Sandler movie ["Bedtime Stories"], and the character I played was over the top, sort of all of the characters are a bit over the top, a bit colorful. I would never do that in this movie because it's just a different style. It's like playing music, and suddenly somebody's kind of rocking out, you're playing some standards and you're going "Man, you're in the wrong band." You just find the rhythm and the tone of what the world is. And it's interesting, because Nick has a great way of writing these extreme kind of characters, and John has a really great way of bringing them to life and making them real. John has a great way of taking a character that could seemingly be over the top and extremely strange, but who we might see out there in the real world. It's a combination of the way he shoots and the time he spends on the character and stuff and how he edits them and stuff. He has a way of making you go "Oh no, that really is a real fucking person."

This article is related to: Guy Pearce, Lawless, John Hillcoat, Nick Cave, Cannes Film Festival, Interview


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates