Pearce of the ac­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TELEVISION - DAVID POUGHER

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.

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