Pearce of the action
GUY PEARCE is one of the best in the business and he’s worked with just about everyone else who falls into that category, so it’s pleasing when he says the two Jack Irish telemovies in Melbourne were the most enjoyable shoots he’s been on.
Pearce stars as Irish, the dishevelled, flawed hero of Peter Temple’s much- loved books set in and around Fitzroy.
Irish is a lawyer whose life comes apart after his wife is murdered by a client.
Depressed and reliant on the escape offered by alcohol and gambling, he makes a living by doing a little debt collecting, a little investigating and gives a little assistance to friends at the shadier end of the racing industry. He also carries the weight of being the son of a former Fitzroy footy great but at heart is a flawed but resilient character – just the type Pearce plays so well.
‘‘ It could have been extremely intense but it was the most glorious shoot I’ve ever been on,’’ Pearce says.
‘‘ A lot of that was down to the fact that [ director] Jeffrey Walker is an absolute delight. He’s the most respectful, joyous, intelligent director you could ever want to work for.
‘‘ Having been an actor himself, he’s incredibly sensitive. He’s also cheeky and fun and has a great sense of humour and we’re old mates.
‘‘ He’s a very bright guy and wonderful to be around so it was a great shoot.’’
Another aspect that delighted Pearce was Irish’s car, a classic Studebaker.
‘‘ I used to drive a 62 S series Valiant and when they said, ‘ We’ve got the Studebaker here and we’re going to have to give you some driving lessons, it’s quite hard to drive’ I just said, ‘ Give me the keys’.
‘‘ Within about five seconds the guy said, ‘ Oh you’re fine with this’ and I said, ‘ Yeah, I used to have something very similar to this’.
‘‘ It was great. Really, everything about the shoot, and I’m not just saying this because there are plenty of s--experiences, but everything about this was great.’’
Unlike the books, the Bad Debts and Black Tide, the movies are set in contemporary times but Temple’s sense of nostalgia for a vanishing Melbourne remains.
Irish trains as an artisan furniture maker in his spare time, and hangs around in a pub that hasn’t moved on much from the ’ 60s where the old blokes at the bar watch VHS tapes of old Fitzroy matches, even though the club has long since moved to Brisbane.
Director Walker and producer Ian Collie have captured perfectly the flavour of the books and are served brilliantly by a cast that includes Marta Dusseldorp as Irish’s love interest, Roy Billing, Shane Jacobson, Aaron Pedersen, Damien Richardson, Damien Garvey, Don Hany, Colin Friels and Terry Norris.
In Bad Debts, Irish has lost his wife, his livelihood and almost his mind when a phone call from a former client takes him into a situation where the trail of corruption leads not only to murder but also to the highest level of government. JACK IRISH: BAD DEBTS, ABC1, tonight, 8.30
LAWYER LOVER: Guy Pearce and his Jack Irish love interest Marta Dusseldorp.