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Guy Pearce Says It Was A "Joke" That 'L.A. Confidential' Lost Best Picture To 'Titanic'

by Kevin Jagernauth
February 25, 2011 8:27 AM
16 Comments
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Also Says He Was Offered 'Daredevil' & Was In Early Talks For Henri Ducard In 'Batman Begins'



Perhaps taking a page from Charlie Sheen, in an interview with Vulture on the eve of the Oscars, Guy Pearce -- who stars in the frontrunning picture "The King's Speech" -- has decided to drop some truth bombs all over the place. And what does he care really, because he's not even going to the Oscars. Boo ya. In fact, he doesn't really dig the whole awards show thing and there may be a good reason, as he's still feeling the sting from a film he made over a decade ago.

"I do think it was a bit of a joke that 'L.A. Confidential' got beaten by 'Titanic' ten years ago," Pearce said. "I just kind of went, ugh, all right, okay. But at the same time, if something’s out of your hands, there’s no point in being too disappointed." We feel you, bro.

Looking back over his impressive resumé it's sort of surprising that Pearce never landed in any major tentpole roles, but he reveals that he did get offered gigs but the projects were less than desirable. "There were a couple of things that sort of came my way but were terrible. I think I was the guy who people thought was getting a bit of a name, but was cheap enough that they could afford. They couldn’t get Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise, so, 'Let’s get the cheap Aussie guy. Yeah, he’s an up-and-comer!' And they were terrible scripts. So I just stayed away from terrible scripts. Had they been good films, then I might have said yes."

So what crossed his desk? How about notorious red suited comic franchise directed by Mark Steven Johnson. "Oh, well I was offered the first 'Daredevil,' yeah," Pearce said. "It wasn’t really my — I mean, I wasn’ t really sort of — I don’t know. Comic-strip stuff isn’t really my cup of tea, really."

That being said, he must have paid attention when "Memento" director Christopher Nolan came knocking when he was starting work on "Batman Begins" and it turns out he was eyed for the part of Henri Ducard, which wound up being played by Liam Neeson. "Chris Nolan flew me to London to talk about one of the other roles in [Batman Begins], ‘cause he sort of had this idea of going a different kind of way. But it didn’t happen, and I don’t know why exactly, and that’s cool," Pearce said adding, "It was Liam Neeson’s role. And there was talk about having the mentor be the same age as Christian Bale, rather than be an older mentor. But maybe they tossed the idea around and other people went, 'No, that’s not gonna work.'"

But no need to cry for missed opportunities, as Pearce is doing just fine. He stars in Todd Haynes' forthcoming HBO mini-series "Mildred Pierce" and is reteaming with John Hillcoat for "The Wettest County"; just a couple of the projects he's got coming along.

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16 Comments

  • jtagliere | February 26, 2011 10:15 AMReply

    LA Confidential always reminds me of a gymnast that does an awesome, impeccable, remarkable routine on the high bar only to totally crash on the landing. Titanic was the above average routine where the gymnast absolutely nails the landing. Which one gets the gold medal? LA Confidential's "White survives, goes off with the girl" is just terrible. I know it's from the book, but still, terrible. The biggest badass in all of LA misses killing White from point-blank range?! Pearce can call Titanic's win a joke all he wants, but LA Confidential's ending was ridiculous.

  • Eric | February 26, 2011 10:08 AMReply

    No Octagon, Boogie Nights and Jackie Brown also came out that year and deserved best picture nominations. LA confidential was the 2nd best film that year after Boogie Nights.

  • octagonproplex | February 26, 2011 7:05 AMReply

    L.A. Confidential was great but the real joke is that Gattica, Contact, Amastad and Kundun were all shunned in favor of The Full Monty, As Good As It Gets and Good Will Hunting (not that those aren't very fine films). Titanic definately had things stacked in it's favor due to that kind of weak competition. But I'm good with Titanic winning. Now people pretend like they didn't like it but why then did you all go to the theater three times to share the expierence with every friend and family member you had? Oh, yes you did so don't even start! Sure, L.A. Confidential is a modern classic but Titanic is iconic. Just as the event it depicted, Titanic seared its way into public conciousness like few films ever have . The real head scratcher would have been if it had lost Best Picture to some other good but soon-to-be-forgotten film of the same year.

    Anyway the best film of '97 was Gattica, quite possibly the finest piece of film science fiction since 2001: A Space Odyssey (1997's Contact is high on that list as well).

    Cinema is a director's medium, not writers or actors. Strong direction can have an over all more powerful effect than the strongest script or acting because cinema is first and foremost an emotional and sensual expierence spurred on by the structured audio/visual presentation. In that department James Cameron is damn near impossible to beat.

    Guy Pierce's own Hurt Locker winning best picture over Cameron's Avatar is a much bigger joke if you ask me.

  • rodie | February 26, 2011 6:08 AMReply

    Guy Pearce is the bomb. He deserves more and better roles.

  • TheoC | February 26, 2011 4:37 AMReply

    My God Guy Pearce has never been so right. Honestly L.A. Confidential is arguably the best movie of that period and it sickens me that we even consider talking about Titanic as anything other than a gimmick or somebodys period. Curtis hanson has not been away it's just this and wonder boys then he's just curtis hanson.

    incase i've been subtle i fucking adore L.A. Confidential.

  • sp | February 26, 2011 3:14 AMReply

    I miss Curtis Hanson ! I want him to get his creative mojo back , ASAP .

    Guy Pearce is so clever , wise , and hilarious. He seems like a blast to hang out with. I want Pearce to find a brilliantly written leading man role , so he can get award recognition, similar his co-star , Colin Firth.

    P.S. These Australian ( and some New Zealand ) thespians are truly taking over Hollyweird.

  • sp | February 26, 2011 3:06 AMReply

    L.A. Confidential is one of my all-time faves ( saw the film three times during it's theatrical release) , and it truly launched Russell Crowe's film career to the stratosphere. Yes, Titanic didn't deserve that Oscar win. .

    I watch this film at least once a year, and I am still in awe of : the brilliant translation of this great novel to film , the extraordinary acting, wonderful chemistry between the cast, cohesive editing, lovely dialogue, and the incredible cinematography ( beautiful looking movie from top to bottom) ,

  • Akim | February 26, 2011 2:49 AMReply

    I disagree wiith him, Titanic definitely deserved to win!

  • Ray H | February 26, 2011 12:21 AMReply

    Cool interview. I kinda figured he was going to the Oscars this year, because I was surprised to see him there last year for The Hurt Locker in which (as he says in the interview) he didn't do much either.

  • Daniel | February 26, 2011 12:02 AMReply

    LA Confidential was one of the greats in a good year, but its shallow to dismiss what an well wrought bit of work Titanic is.

    Titanic is more than just melodramatic disaster porn -- it is the first melodramatic disaster porn that is WELL MADE -- so much so that people think it's a romance.

    Cameron tricks the audience into thinking this, when actually it is Towering Inferno, or Earthquake, etc -- minus all the boring parts, and ten times more disaster. Complaining that Titanic is a terrible film is like complaining that the Superman ride at Six Flags is a terrible subway train.

    Look at previous disaster films. They are terrible. Not because of what they are, but because they are BAD at being disaster films. The point is to show the disaster - this is why you buy the ticket. But almost all of them have only 20 min. of what you're paying for. Titanic delivers 2 straight HOURS of disaster in its last half.

    It even streamlines the setup. 2 hours, I know, but bare with me.

    The setup of all of these films has one purpose: show off the stuff that will burn down. With earlier incarnations, the only solution to this is to take you on a tour via multiple storylines --the rich old lady, the guy cheating on his wife, the kid who gets stuck in the river -- none get adequate time to turn into actual stories, so they just become awkward and dull. Do I really care about Fred Astaire as a con man? No.

    Titanic's fix for this: make it simpler. Rich Girl, Poor Kid. She takes him to 1st class and he meets a string of douchebags that get their comeuppance; he takes him to 3rd class to introduce her to a bunch of soon to be drowned Irishmen.

    All the while, we are getting a full view of the ship, whetting our disaster appetite - and since we are with only them the whole time, we become invested in them, no matter how shallow the writing is.

    In fact, the shallow writing is the films greatest bonus -- can you imagine how turgid this would be if Leo had any depth? Ttwo dimensional characters and simplistic plots are the grease for the gears.

    In an average disaster film, the first half is a big, badly organized menu that you don't really have the will to read through. In Titanic, It's the desert cart -- a lavish, tempting spread of what you're about to indulge in. You savor what's coming.

    This mood of inevitability drives Titanic - Cameron designs the whole film around it:

    1) the movie is called Titanic.

    2) In case you DIDN'T know the boat sinks, the movie starts in the present day with characters saying, 'that boat sank.'

    3) you see a video of HOW IT WILL SINK, the ship snaps in half! The lights go out! Ooh!

    4) an old lady tells all about the man she loved. You will notice that there is NO LITTLE OLD MAN WITH HER.

    The first half is a two hour ad for the movie you will be watching. This is plain old good filmmaking; it's raw Barnum and Bailey showmenship, in fact. You don't just want to see stuff randomly blow up -- it's meaningless without the foreplay.

    it didn't make a mint because people went to see it once -- they went 10 times a piece. They did because the movie is truly great at what it does. Picking on it for that fact is like saying Wild Strawberries is terrible because it doesn't have enough gunfights.

    I have equally great things to say about LA Confidential, but the only way to compare these two different kinds of film is through the competency of their execution -- and the only way to do that is to look at what the films are trying to DO, not what you wish they would BE.

  • shackett on twitter | February 25, 2011 9:47 AMReply

    10 years from now the consensus will be saying that Social Network should have won best picture. (or maybe 10 days from now).

  • Smash Tit-house | February 25, 2011 9:22 AMReply

    thanks bobmorton for saying what i was thinking.

  • odd | February 25, 2011 9:19 AMReply

    Pearce was fantastic in The Proposition, and, more recently, Animal Kingdom. His mustache alone in AK should get him an oscar nod this year.

  • Jeremy Powers | February 25, 2011 9:17 AMReply

    Of course it was a joke. Even if LA Confidential didn't win, it's hard to see why Titanic should have won - As Good As It Gets won best actor and best actress. Titanic didn't win a single acting award, nor did it win for screenplay.
    I think LA Confidential should have won, but both were better than Titanic.

  • bobmorton | February 25, 2011 9:11 AMReply

    um, let us not forget the time machine.

  • jimmiescoffee | February 25, 2011 9:08 AMReply

    so happy to read this. personally la confidential is a genius, perfect piece of work and ive loved it since the day it (frighteningly 14 years ago, wow). so rewatchably brilliant. it has been criminally underrated for years. its arguably the best film of the crowded 1990's. curtis hanson is comically underrated (wonder boys???) on the whole and so is guy pearce.

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