Me and my Guy
Claudia Karvan and Guy Pearce are back in each other’s arms in their latest TV series, writes Andrew Fenton
Claudia Karvan and Guy Pearce’s onscreen partnership — which has now spanned 27 years, three movies and the new TV series of Jack Irish — got off to a rocky start.
Karvan was only 17 when she starred opposite Pearce in the disastrous biopic Flynn in 1989. She was considerably older by the time they refilmed it with a new director and new co-stars to please the financiers, and was 21 by the time the film debuted at Cannes.
And Karvan had already made and released a second, much better, movie with Pearce — 1996’s body swap comedy Dating The Enemy — before Flynn limped out on video to uniformly awful reviews.
“I’ve known Guy since he was Errol Flynn (and) I was his one true love,” recalls The Puberty Blues and The Time Of Our Lives star. “I think they shot it about three times, with various (new) scenes and changing the cast around. I don’t know why, it was a long time ago! And then we did Dating The Enemy together, and we’ve done 33 Postcards (2011) — so I’ve always loved working with him and I loved this show.”
Now 43, Karvan is back in Pearce’s embrace as Jack Irish’s latest love interest, Sarah Longmore, and says the Melbourne actor — who went on to fame in Hollywood with LA Confidential, Memento and Iron Man 3 — has remained true to his roots.
“I actually don’t think he has changed much,” she says. “He’s very much the same person I met all that time ago. He’s got strong anchors in his home town and he always will.”
Karvan, who made her onscreen debut in 1983’s singing dog movie Molly, came to Jack Irish after working on The Broken Shore (2013) — another of writer/producer Andrew Knight’s TV adaptations of author Peter Temple’s novels.
Longmore is loosely based on a character from his White Dog novel — an “independent, volatile woman” who enlists Jack’s help when her sister goes missing after becoming involved with cult-like church.
Pearce explains it’s something of a bizarre love triangle, with Marta Dusseldorp’s character, Linda — fed up with Jack’s inability to commit emotionally, on the trail of an investigation in Manila.
“Even though he does love Linda to death, there’s something more of a sibling relationship (about it) whereas I think Claud’s character strikes him as being deeply moving,” Pearce says. “I think it hits Jack in the heart a little stronger.
“(Claudia) was the perfect choice for this character. I love spending time with her and she’s so experienced now: she can just read a scene and go ‘Hang on a sec, this doesn’t work because of this, this and this. And everyone goes ‘Aw, s---, you’re right!”
Apart from becoming a mother of two, Audrey and Albee, and step mum to partner Jeremy Sparks’s daughter Holiday Sidewinder, the big change in Karvan’s life over the years is that she’s gone from simply starring in television, to creating it.
Producer John Edwards gave Karvan her first directing job on The Secret Life of Us and brought her in as co-creator for Love My Way. She later cocreated and starred in Spirited.
As a producer she has few qualms about taking on some massive challenges — including last year’s bruising encounter with Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, over House of Hancock. The mining magnate took Karvan and the other producers to court, forcing them to butcher the finale with four minutes of edits immediately before broadcast.
Karvan admits the legal battle was stressful, but says: “I guess it was to a degree on the cards. I think it was dealt with as well as it could have been. I wouldn’t say I was ‘happy’ (about the cuts) because they were so last minute. But at some point … you can only worry about what you can control and that was (what I could control).”
Despite being a much-loved actor for three decades — and in the past three years alone she’s starred in Better Man, The Broken Shore, Puberty Blues, The Time of Our Lives and Jack Irish — she has plenty of projects in development, believing it’s “essential that you diversify if you want to stay employed”.
“I’m on screen a lot,” she says. “I don’t want people to get too sick of me so it’s nice to find some other strings to my bow.”
“He’s very much the same person I met all that
CLAUDIA KARVAN ON GUY PEARCE
JACK IRISH, ABC, THURSDAY, 8.30PM
Jack of all trades Claudia Karvan
and (below) with Guy Pearce