In this edition:
- Festive Glamour: When the festive season throws you an occasion, you need to glam it up.
- Andrew McUtchen looks for fun in cricket with former Australian cricketer Damien Fleming.
- Take a look at our Christmas Gift Guide.
Listening to the utterly unpretentious Pearce with his less-than-jubilant attitude towards celebrity, its tempting to imagine he might have wished he had five hours worth of make-up on at the height of Neighbours craziness in the 1980s.
In the new sci-fi epic Prometheus, Pearce is certainly lost in the character.
Started at 3am and Id be ready at 8am, Pearce says in a hotel room at Southbank. Ten pieces had to be applied, then painting, then colour. Could only shoot till three in the arvo because you need a break after 12 hours.
He shot for 20 days over five weeks but it was physically intense. I was surprised I could deal with the five hours in the morning. The prospect of it. You imagine knowing youve got to sit in a chair for five hours while people glue stuff onto you. But it was fascinating watching the Italian couple who were actually a couple doing it. It was interesting watching them bicker about how things should be done. And they were right into music, so Id play them Silverchair and Powderfinger and great Aussie stuff and they were playing bands Id never heard of before.
Prometheus, directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner), is a 3D return to the sci-fi genre to tell about a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, which leads to a battle to save the future of the human race.
It is a big film that, because Scott chose not to rely on computers for the look, needed a big studio.
The whole thing was a fascinating experience, Pearce says. All the sets the world we entered, and I wasnt there for a lot of it would perhaps in a lot of films these days be done on a computer later.
Ridley builds all of this stuff, prefers to work that way. So to walk on set and see all this was fascinating. He extended the biggest Pinewood studio by another 20 per cent. Because he does have a great vision and he does see the big picture.
We were all aware of Ridleys films, aware of Alien, and just to be a part of something that everybody is anticipating There was that kind of energy hovering in the air as well. It was a very memorable experience and a real honour.
It has been a strong few years for Pearce with some highly acclaimed roles. He starred in the critically lauded The Proposition (2005), directed by John Hillcoat, with whom he worked again on The Road.
He portrayed pop artist Andy Warhol in Factory Girl and Harry Houdini in Gillian Armstrongs Death Defying Acts. He was Edward VIII in Tom Hoopers Academy Award-winning The Kings Speech. Last year he won an Emmy for his role opposite Kate Winslet in Mildred Pierce. In his acceptance speech, he noted that he got to have sex with Kate Winslet many, many times. He then good-naturedly apologised to his wife, who was in the audience, laughing.
But it hasnt always been a smooth ride. Pearce learnt a lot about himself in 2001 when he had the largest of what was a series of mini-burnouts. Hed had enough and was even questioning his future in acting.
I had a bit of an overload in 2001, where I just went, Hang on, I need to stop, he says. I went, I need to take a year off. In that time I realised a lot of things. It was a lot about looking at the validity of acting, whether I wanted to keep doing it. I was really grumpy with everyone for the year-and-a-half before that, so I just thought, I have to sort this out; this is no good. And one of the big parts of it was I realised I did need the break between jobs. You would have mini-burnouts along the way.
The work had started to overwhelm the rest of his life and he needed to take stock. I just hated everybody around me at any given moment and I just knew I had to sort that out. I like to be fun and have a good time and laugh and make people laugh. I just went, I am just being horrible to everybody.
He took time out, and it worked. Now, 11 years later, he is in a very good place. He lives in bayside Melbourne and, despite a healthy Hollywood career, wouldnt have it any other way.
I asked him how he juggles working there and living here. Its not a juggle at all, he says. Its just the way it works. Ive got a bit of a system going. If I go to America for any reason, to do publicity for something, or film or something, or to do post-sync (post-production), I will then stay on for another week and do the rounds, go to meetings with directors, read scripts. Ill do that a couple of times a year.
He feels blessed he can live in his own city. Absolutely. I feel like its a bonus. I view myself as an Australian, an Australian actor looking to do Australian work ,and anything that comes outside of that from England or America, I go, Oh, bonus. So the idea of moving overseas feels really weird to me.
Pearce has a deep connection with Melbourne. I just love it. My friends are here, my familys in Geelong. Im asked that question all the time and my agent said, It might be good for you to think about moving here. But thats like saying, You might like to go and live in Iceland. Its never going to happen. It was proven quite early on that I could function enough just being there the short times I was there.
I found Id go and do publicity for something, do a week of meetings and Id get a job out of it. Id go, Great, Ill go home for a few months before the job starts and then come back.
And I dont want my life to all be about work, because I feel it sort of is anyway. Being an actor is like running your own little business. And I do a lot of stuff myself. Not to take anything away from (my three agents) who are spread around the world, because they do a lot for me as well. But I dont have a personal assistant. Im the one contacting producers saying, We could do the fly from Melbourne to LA but it might be better to get a round-the-world ticket because we could stop in Europe on the way Im in charge of it all.
He smiles. Im just a control freak. Most of it can be done on email. Id rather be in my own office looking out on the dogs in the backyard and go out to a café with my wife (Kate Mestitz).
Family is very important to Pearce. In 1976, six years after hed moved to Australia with his parents and older sister Tracey, his father Stuart, a test pilot, was killed at work.
Tracey has an intellectual disability and young Guy watched his mother, Anne, working hard to bring up her two children without her husband. He has never lost the sense of responsibility that he felt as a young boy.
No one has ever accused Pearce of being vulnerable to typecasting. He chooses a role according to whether he finds it interesting or whether its sufficiently different to previous roles. Also, the timing has to be right. Its a necessity as far as Im concerned, he says of playing varying roles. I dont do it consciously in trying to be different all the time. Even when I was a kid and I did theatre in Geelong I was always totally up for one minute playing the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz and the next doing something utterly different.
Having grown up in the world of theatre where you do this direction, that direction, its not unfamiliar to me. I found doing Neighbours for four years and Snowy River for four years that it ends up being really frustrating because you just tire of that same character. Whats fascinating about this job is being able to delve into different worlds and explore it for a while and then kind of shed it like a skin and move onto the next thing.
He gets three or four scripts a week. Out of those a lot are not financed yet. Its a real variety that comes in. Most films that I read dont quite do it for me. The films kind of interesting but the role theres nothing there, or whatever happens. Or it might not be right for in the moment. It might be something I might have done five years ago. Or Id done something thats a bit like it. I like to be surprised. Its all about being surprised for me. Its all about being inspired and excited by something.
Pearce says its critical to stay fresh and enthusiastic, and that overwork can kill off the mojo. As an actor you can become vacuous and have nothing to offer, he says. You need to refill the well? You do. So Ive taken the first six months of this year off because the last two years has been a bit non-stop.
Hes looking after himself. I realised I had to. Did he find if he didnt do that he would start phoning in his performance? Not phoning it in but just really struggling to find it, to find the character. Everything felt fake because I would know I had to be angry in this scene and just didnt have the energy to be angry, so Id be trying my hardest and it would feel fake.
After meeting Pearce and listening to the passion for keeping it real, no one could ever accuse him of being fake.Watch Prometheus opens June 7 (Yet to be classified).