He’s one of the good Guys
Quiet achiever Guy Pearce adds another Aussie role to his resume, writes
OR an actor who has appeared in his fair share of Hollywood blockbusters and acclaimed Academy Award winners, Guy Pearce could be seen as something of a quiet achiever.
Because he seems to eschew the trappings of stardom, it would be easy to underrate the local lad who went from work on Neighbours to an eye-catching drag-queen post in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert before breaking into Hollywood with a starring role in the celebrated 1997 crime drama LA Confidential. He gave the big-budget thing a whirl, but roles in such sci-fi spectacles as The Time Machine didn’t sit comfortably with him.
Instead, he played it a bit stealthy, taking on challenging projects such as The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan’s tricky thriller Memento.
Or he’d pop up unexpectedly in Oscarwinners such as The Hurt Locker or The King’s Speech, bringing texture and depth to brief cameos or supporting roles.
Just recently Pearce started to embrace his higher profile, appearing in Prometheus and signing on for Iron Man 3, which he’s filming in the US.
Despite his international career, though, he still returns home from time to time and lends his talent and presence to homegrown productions, among them the two Jack Irish telemovies on ABC1.
Based on Australian crime novelist Peter Temple’s award-winning crime novels Bad Debts and Black Tide, the telemovies follow the exploits of Pearce’s Jack Irish, a former criminal lawyer trying to put his life back together after a personal tragedy that left him a shattered man who sought solace in the bottle.
Back on the straight and narrow (well, pretty much) thanks to the intervention of his mates, Jack has turned his back on the law and now works as a debt collector and unofficial private investigator for ‘‘colourful racing identity’’ Harry Strang (Roy Billing), when he’s not trying to get the hang of artisan carpentry under the guidance of veteran cabinetmaker Charlie Taub (the late Vadim Glowna).
A stellar Aussie cast has been assembled for Bad Debts and Black Tide, with Colin Friels, Steve Bisley, Don Hany, Diana Glenn, Lachy Hulme and House Husbands stars Rhys Muldoon all adding support.
Something of a standout, however, is Beaconsfield and Kenny star Shane Jacobson as slovenly, rude and bloody effective cop Barry Tregear, Jack’s contact on the police force. (Jacobson proudly points out his dad Ron also appears in Black Tide).
‘‘Barry is literally a doughnut-eating cop,’’ says Jacobson, laughing as he recalls a scene where his character makes the most of a bowling club buffet.
‘‘But he’s also the kind of character who really wants to get the bad guys and will do anything to make that happen. He’ll cross a thousand lines.
‘‘Criminals don’t follow the rules. Barry wants to catch criminals. So he’ll do a little bit wrong to catch someone who’s doing a lot wrong. And he’s also one of those guys, you probably know one or two, who are as rude as all get out but they do help you.’’
Jacobson’s not short of work lately – he has the crime thriller The Mystery of a Hansom Cab on the way, is filming the ensemble drama The Time of Our Lives and even appeared in the recent big-screen hit The Bourne Legacy – but he jumped at the chance to work with Pearce.
‘‘One thing you need to know is Guy is the nicest person in entertainment,’’ Jacobson said.
‘‘I’d give anything to have 10 per cent of the career he’s had – I’d be happy to walk away with that. He’s done so much but I think a lot of people don’t actually recognise it.
‘‘He’s almost like the football player no one really talks about because he’s never won the Brownlow but when you look at his stats you realise he’s been there all the time, playing like a champion.’’
Shane Jacobson and Guy Pearce.