Born in 1967 in Cambridgeshire, England, Guy Pearce and his family traveled to Australia initially for two years after his father, Stuart Pearce, was offered the position of Chief test pilot for the Australian Government. Guy was just 3-years-old. After deciding to stay in Australia and settling in the Victorian city of Geelong, Guy's father was killed 5 years later in an aircraft test flight, leaving his Mother to care for him and his older sister, Tracy.
Having little interest in subjects at school like math or science, Guy favored art, drama and music. He joined local theatre groups at a young age and appeared in such productions as "The King and I", "Fiddler on the Roof" and "The Wizard of Oz". In 1985, just two days after his final high school exam, Guy started a four-year stint as "Mike Young" on the popular Aussie soap "Neighbours" (1985). At age 20, Guy appeared in his first film, Heaven Tonight (1990), then, after a string of appearances in film, television and on the stage, he won the role of an outrageous drag queen in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994).
Most recently, he has amazed film critics and audiences, alike, with his magnificent performances in L.A. Confidential (1997), Memento (2000), The Proposition (2005), Factory Girl (2006), The Hurt Locker (2008), The King's Speech (2010) and the HBO mini-series, "Mildred Pierce" (2011). Next to acting, Guy has had a life-long passion for music and songwriting.
Guy likes to keep his private life very private. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, which is also where he married his childhood sweetheart, Kate Mestitz in March 1997.
|Kate Mestitz||(15 March 1997 - present)|
Often plays smart but arrogant characters
Was ranked #17 in E's Most Sexiest Men in Entertainment 2002.
Was ranked #20 in E's Most Sexiest Men in Entertainment 2003.
Growing up in regional Victorian town Geelong; he now resides in Melbourne, Australia.
Turned down the title role in Daredevil (2003).
Father was a test pilot who died in a crash in 1976.
Has an older sister.
His eldest sister, Tracy, has Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects both intellectual and physical development.
For his role in Prometheus (2012/I), he was required to sit in a make-up chair for five hours. The make-up and prosthetics would then take one hour to remove.
You meet these people who are confident all the time. They annoy me. And I wonder if it's because I'm envious or if it's because they're shallow.
"Well, if you'd like to get technical, I'm English, and Russell's from New Zealand." (when asked about the studio's reluctance to hire "two Australians" for roles in the period piece L.A. Confidential (1997).)
I always look at films as real stories with real people in real situations. That's why I struggle with the whole notion of calling someone the 'good guy' or the 'bad guy,' because I think we all have potential to do good things and all have the potential to do bad things.
A lot of people are going to hate me for saying this, but one of my least favorite kinds of music, or the kind of music that I feel I've so got out of my system, is musicals music.
I love being at home in Melbourne, reading scripts, doing the gardening and running around after my wife.
I don't want to be a celebrity. The little amount that I've had in the past - it was fun going into it. But once you realize you're in, you realize you don't actually want to be in it anymore.
I don't act because I'm some supremely confident being. I don't want to be that guy. There are leading men who tell producers, 'I do my thing. Do you want me or not in your movie?' I still see acting as getting into character.
[2007, on his music] I don't want to make music to get into the pop charts and make a career out of it. I just want to play music with other people. Sometimes I record it. I think there is a value in recording it in the same way that you might write a diary. Writing a diary does not mean that you want to publish it. If this is my diary, I'm not sure that I want it to be read. And anyway, I think there is an automatic disdain for somebody who is too ambitious. People think as an actor you are gifted and don't have any troubles in life. You are lucky to be doing this thing where all you have to do is go around telling lies and you get to kiss beautiful women. So how dare you want to be able to do this other thing. I am not interested in releasing music to a skeptical audience.
 Most studio films don't end up being a pure experience because you're not working with the director. You're answering to producers who have a lot of money at stake. Corners will be shaved off to make something slightly safer so they can make back their $100m.
[2007, on his sister with Cornelia de Lange syndrome] The fact that my sister is intellectually disabled, that in itself has played a huge part not only in my relationship with her, but in my relationship with anybody. I know I have achieved things that she could never hope to, and I have a huge sense of responsibility for her.
[2007, on not wanting children] I don't even need them. There are enough babies in the world. Besides, I don't think I would be good for babies. I'd be on and off. I think they need more consistent affection than I would be able to give.
I'm a cat person actually, and my dogs are a lot like cats because they don't bark, they hate water and they climb trees. They are aloof and very feline. I see myself as a cat. I grew up with such an affinity to cats. I adore the way that they think and operate.
 On stage, you've got dialogue you've learned. You've got a paying audience. It couldn't be better, you know? My therapist would say it's probably because of having lost my dad when I was really young and, that being a really tragic thing, that [I was] worried about what was potentially around the corner being really disastrous. So in doing a play or doing some structured work as an actor, it's set. That's probably why I was drawn to it, in a way.
[2003, on what keeps him passionate about acting] Making sure that I've had time off in between things. I really need to regenerate and rejuvenate my batteries, and learn from the experience I've had when I get back to being me at home. I like experiencing how different I feel, which I think inspires a desire to go off and work again. It's the shift back and forth between being somebody else, then coming home and being myself.
[2003, on turning down a lot of movies after L.A. Confidential (1997)] I did the things I wanted to do-the things I found interesting. I certainly got offered all sorts of big studio movies, but I found most of them pretty stupid and predictable. I kept thinking, 'I can't do something interesting with this. This is not really interesting on the page'. I'm sure there are actors out there who can turn something dull into something really interesting, but I can't do that. I've tried and I end up pulling tricks out of a box of tricks that are just lame. I feel like I need great inspirational directors and great inspirational scripts in order for me to say, 'Okay, I will surf this wave with you'. Don't expect me to invent anything. I can't invent stuff. I have to latch onto the character that you've presented me with. And once I understand it, I'll do it...I have very little self-confidence, anyway. I'm not one of those people who can go, 'Yeah, I'm going to take the film and I'm going to turn it into this and that'. If there's nothing there, all I'm going to show you is that there's nothing there. And that's going to be bad for all of us. I just felt like I couldn't do anything with those big films. Of course, I'm quite fascinated by a lot of those roles that require the actor to be the hero. But I so don't feel like a heroic leading man. I just don't have the confidence to do them. I'm getting better, don't get me wrong. I'm not as insecure as I was when I was 24. But that stuff is what led me to do the things that I did.
 I find it so much easier to work at home (in Australia) because I understand the communication we have between each other. Even though Americans speak English, we all speak a very different language. There's a real difference in the way we relate to each other. I guess there's just a bit of shorthand that I slip into when I'm working in Australia. It's also more intimate. There are smaller crews. Basically, we don't have the money for 300 people on a set.
 I'm always saying to my Australian agent that I want to know what's going on in Australia. I think the more time I spend and work away, my urge to actually express myself through Australian characters becomes stronger. To be part of the industry at home and to express myself through it is really important to me.
 People think to be an actor, you have to study your back story and remember all these elements. I don't operate like that at all. I read something and feel completely inspired by it and for some reason or other, it just kind of takes over and I move with it. Doing Memento (2000), I could let go of everything; it was a really freeing experience because Leonard was the one doing all the acting; it's not me at all...I find it a really difficult thing to explain, but it was a really pure experience making that movie. When they'd call 'cut', I'd kind of come out the other side and go, 'What happened?'.
[on starring in "Neighbours" (1985)] It can do something for one's ego, good and bad, to have teenage girls chasing after you, trying to rip your clothes off and offer you sexual favors.
 I look at my two cats and I can see myself evenly distributed between them. One is quite insecure. Needing constant attention. Very fragile. The other is a real arrogant shit. Of course they piss each other off continually.
[2002, GQ Magazine] I can get pretty angry. I have a lot of people say, 'You're so nice,' then three days later they see. It's all about myself. My inability to deal with arrogance or narrow-mindedness. If I'm in an intellectual corner with somebody, my natural response is to get quite childish. Or, you know, shitty. That's why I became an actor, I suppose. People pay you to do it."
 I've got a T-shirt that says, 'Jesus saves,' and the 's' in 'Jesus' is a big dollar sign. I've worn it here [in America] and had people come up on the street and go, 'You can't wear that.' People in Australia think it's funny. I'm fascinated by religion. I don't believe in God, but the thing I do believe in is that we're all connected. And I guess that's what other people might call God. I don't know enough about religion to really say, but on some level, doesn't everyone just believe in a different version of the same thing?
 I love to wake up in the morning and smell the fresh air, go and potter at the piano, and feel relaxed. I'm a really nervy person, so I need to feel calm and so on. Part of being an actor is to learn about as many people as I can, to take it all on board...and there is a need for me to do that. But when that need has been fulfilled I guess I won't do that anymore.
[1996, on Los Angeles] I like to just go there for a short time, I don't think I could live there. I go there for two weeks and do 20 auditions. At school I was always the sprinter, not the long distance runner. I sort of go in, hit hard and get out of there.
 If I can just find a line somewhere between the independents and the mainstream, I'll be happy. Quite often people will say to me that this or that is not a good career move. But the people who work for me know I will do what I want to do. And when I come across something like Memento and see that it takes me into another world, that it's original and innovative, well of course I will want to go there. It's funny, you know, a lot of people say to me, 'Oh God, you've obviously given up acting after L.A. Confidential. Russell went on, but you didn't?' 'No mate. You've really got no idea why I do what I do, or how I operate at all' I just love the idea of coming out of the woodwork, saying, 'Here I am, this is what I am offering: whammo! Seen it? OK. Goodbye'.
 I actually had Gary Oldman tell me he was a big fan of mine, and I'm like, 'I don't know if I can accept this'. I just never thought, for some reason or other, that I would ever get that respect, let alone work with people like Kevin Spacey and Tommy Lee Jones.
 The thing is I have a lot of pride in is my ability to be responsible. But I must admit that as I get older I am wanting to be the 18-year-old I never was. Which is embarrassing: I'm 33, and now I want to do irresponsible things? As everyone else I know is getting older and becoming responsible, I'm going, 'Fuck kids. I'm not having fucking kids!
[1997, on playing "Ed Exley" in L.A. Confidential (1997)] To contain everything like Ed does, and keep it really still, is difficult. Ed suffers from pent-up emotions. I felt like I was a block of wood sometimes. I was desperate to see the dailies. I don't know whether I should be giving away my acting insecurities, but I always find it difficult to have faith in what I do.
[1997, on his early fame in Australia] It's embarrassing. I mean you spend your life dealing with your insecurities and your paranoia's and your fears and you go out in public and people scream and do crazy things and say crazy things, like 'sex symbol,' and you go, that's not me they're talking about. I've had girls want me to sign their breasts. I guess it made them feel a little closer to me. It made me feel a little closer to them, that's for sure.
 Most American movies are about some guy that's kind of living on the edge and saves the world and has the chick and does the gun stuff. And it's full of all those stupid one-liners that mean nothing. I want something a lot more than that. Have you seen Face/Off? I hate slagging off other movies but I thought it was fucking ridiculous. Banal chase scenes, trained shooters missing their targets.
[on The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)] People ask what it was like playing a woman, but I don't think I was actually playing a woman. I was playing an over-the-top queen who likes to dress up in drag and has his own insecurities and problems with women. Adam is a misogynistic little brat, anyway, so I wasn't playing someone who is openly a woman. He is less open about being a woman than I, Guy, could be. Often, when playing other characters, you look to your feminine side to find out what you might be wanting to play. But this is not a real perception of a female character, because it is an exaggerated, colored, colorful view of a female. It was a very liberating experience for me. The boundaries were completely left at home and a lot of that was to do with the nature of Stephan Elliott. I think what he wanted to do was to bring along with him and with us this openness, this complete life experience rather than saying, 'This is the film crew, you are the actors and we are filming now'. It wasn't like that at all. Some of Stephan's direction was incredible. He would stop the camera, tell us we were awful and demand we ham it up. We had to get into a completely different way of thinking. But once we got on the merry-go-round, it was great. As an actor, you are constantly trying to get away from yourself, which is the same as trying to find yourself. This thing that you're trapped in, you get to leave behind, and do stuff that you would normally get arrested for.
[on getting into drag for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)] You sit there looking at yourself in the mirror for two hours in the morning while they are making you up and you think, 'This is the female version of me'. It's really complex because you can see yourself but it's female. I can really see my mother. I didn't feel like a woman as such, but getting into touch with your feminine side was really at the forefront. It was an amazing experience, it was actually fantastic, I really enjoyed it. But I'm not sure if I'm good-looking. I don't think I'd fancy myself if I saw myself walking down the street looking like that. I would probably look twice because I looked more odd than anything.
[2001, on finding roles] There are so many films out there, if you can't find stuff that's interesting, then there's got to be something wrong with you. There's a certain sort of aim that certain actors have, which is to get yourself in a No. 1 position where they think they'll get offered everything, you know? I'm just happy to flit around in the background and find stuff that interests me. It's not necessarily about a career choice, it's finding stuff I'm interested in.
 I'm more than happy to do little independent films for the rest of my life. Interesting and unusual films, because I really get off on doing it and I feel much more confident in that sort of surrounding.
 After I did L.A. Confidential (1997), I had a lot of people say to me, 'Right, so you're now an A-list American actor?' You say, 'No, Tom Cruise, who earns $20 million a movie is an A-list American actor, I am one of the six gazillion actors who people have seen in one movie and who they kind of liked.
[2000, on living in Melbourne] I'm much happier spending more time at home, I just love it here. There is a competitive quality to LA, and by the time I leave I always feel a bit anxious. I never really realized what it was about Melbourne I liked until I spent time away. I don't like the smog in LA, I don't like the fact that there is no real community anywhere, I don't like the fact that people don't look at you when they are talking to you and get so frustrated with you because you have an Australian accent. They're very narrow-minded as far as other cultures (go) and I don't have the energy to play the game.
 I was a small, skinny guy and had a lot of insecurities about my body, so I got into weight training when I was young. I won the Junior Mr. Victoria bodybuilding competition when I was 15, which is a really odd claim to fame.
[on playing roles with a different accent] I don't look at it as hiding my accent, I look at it as putting on another accent.
(On L.A. Confidential (1997)) It was probably stranger for me because it was my first American film, while Russell [Russell Crowe] had experience working in the States prior to that. For me, it was all sort of new, and I was just trying to understand this new culture that I was submerged in. But it pretty quickly becomes about the internal stuff that's going on with these characters for an actor, and that's what you focus on. Fortunately for us, we had many, many weeks of marked rehearsal while they were still casting other people, so there were a few weeks there where it was only Curtis Hanson, Brian Helgeland-the scriptwriter-Russell, and I in a room together. Then Kim Basinger came along when she was cast, and then Danny DeVito would come along when he was cast. So they had a slow-building process going on outside that room, and we had a process of familiarization in that room, which really was great for me. It wasn't like I stepped off a plane and stepped on set and suddenly had to understand what I was doing. Obviously, having James Ellroy's book was the quintessential piece of research material, as well as everything else that Curtis and the team pulled together. Because even though our film only covered that Christmas period and the few months after in 1953, the book covers a nine-year period, so there's so much detail there about the nuances and minutiae of these various characters. There was a great wealth of material to work with. And you forget once you're in it that you're playing a character as iconic as an American cop. You get caught up in the emotional stuff. So that again was a great delight. Curtis Hanson is like Chris Nolan... and they're rare creatures, not all directors are like this. He has a great handle on the technical and visual aspects of filmmaking as well as the importance of performance. We all felt pretty good about what we managed to do.
(2011 quote on filming The Proposition (2005)) That is by far my favorite of all the films that I've done. I've fortunately been involved in some really great films, like Memento (2000) and L.A. Confidential (1997), but the personal aspect of The Proposition... Look, I think The Proposition is a really exquisite piece of work by John Hillcoat, but the experience we had with that, being out in that location, being out in the wilderness-when you live in Australia, you can't help but be highly aware of the Aboriginal people and their history, so being out in that country where you see more people than you would here in Melbourne, for example, there is a vibe or a spirit or whatever you want to call it to that land, that culture, that is unbelievably powerful. I don't even know how to explain it, but it's awesome and overwhelming. I had a strange experience on that movie, because in the middle of the film, I had to go to Adelaide to do this conference, so in the schedule, they gave me almost two weeks off, primarily when they were filming the scenes between Ray Winstone and Emily Watson in the house. There were lots of scenes that we weren't in, so I took that opportunity to go to Adelaide and do the conference, and I thought, "Well, I'll come back to Melbourne on the way and catch up with things in Melbourne for a week before I go back to Queensland and carry on with the movie". And it was a really terrible thing to do. It was so odd and jarring that I really wished I hadn't done it. It didn't affect the film, but I was in such a zone up there that I regretted I did it, because breaking from that was really strange, and getting back into it was strange. I had underestimated what it would be like to do that. So I would say the experience of spending time with Aboriginal people and having their presence be quite prominent in that film was quite extraordinary. After we finished the film, I stayed up there for a few days, and some of the local people took me to some very remote places. We looked at cave paintings from many thousands of years ago, and places people wouldn't normally get to go. The whole experience, like I say, was so extraordinary. And I ended up driving home after that film, which took me five days. I sort of took my time doing it, but driving from the desert back south to Melbourne is probably the equivalent distance-wise of one side of America to the other, or something like that, going through complete changes of landscape. So that was a nicer way to actually come back to Melbourne than suddenly going bang in the middle of the film. When I wasn't in the desert, I felt like I sat in the corner of the house and didn't want to absorb anything at all, and just wanted to get on the plane and go back out there. Really extraordinary piece of work to be involved in, and obviously John Hillcoat and Nick Cave, together, make a great team. In fact, I'm about to go and do their next film.
(2011, on Ravenous (1999)) It was a really harrowing experience making Ravenous, because there was a whole lot of shit that went down that was awful to have to deal with. The first director was fired, then they brought in another director who we felt was highly inappropriate, so we had a mutiny, and they gave in and said, "Who do you want to direct this movie?" And this went on for a couple of weeks, and then thankfully Antonia Bird-who was in partnership with Robert Carlyle, and an old friend of his as well-had read the script and was able to step in and take over. But even then, the studio really was trying to gear the film in a particular direction, which was not at all the direction that I understood it to be in the beginning, so it was a very tense time, which kind of spoiled-well, maybe it added to it, I don't know. Maybe it added to the experience. But had it been a normal circumstance, then generally playing characters like this, who are in an extreme situation, is exciting and unusual, and I find it very appealing. But not all the time. I really enjoy doing things too that are more subtle and close to home-and literally close to home, where we're shooting in Australia, and I'm not having to worry about an accent, and where I feel I'm more able to actually achieve some subtlety. I can dance around the subtler, transparent aspects of psychology and personality with ease, because it's in my own voice rather than a voice I have to cultivate. So I really enjoy a variety of different work, and what I've just done may sometimes determine what I choose to do next.
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