Tom Cruise might still enjoy running around skyscraper buildings so he can touch the hole in the ozone layer, but at some point he’ll have to put down his harness. Matt Damon seems more and more interested in comedy and family, on and off screen, these days than picking up his weapons and counting off his enemies. Bruce Willis…
So, there’s a gap looming in the big screen action man market. And, on the basis of Lockout in UK cinemas this week, producers need look no further than Guy Pearce.
He's obviously spent a ridiculous number of hours in the gym, too, for Lockout, a sci-fi thriller that sees him sent to a top-security prison to rescue the president’s daughter, taken hostage by a bunch of marauding escaped convicts. Oh, and, with it being 2079 and all, the prison is in outer space. Natch.
This kind of thing normally leaves me cold, but it's a cracking story and the time flew by, with Pearce bringing all his brooding, silent but deadly presence to bear in a catalogue of set pieces… so is this a walking billboard to be scooped up for an action franchise of his own?
Looking a good decade younger than his 44 years in T-shirt, sneakers and jeans in London, Pearce bats the question away with Antipodean charm.
“I’m not out there trying to convince people of that kind of thing, that’s not my agenda.
"Having done long-running television before, I’m essentially just looking for interesting characters, so there’s no plea to the big boys," he smiles.
"If there was a sequel to this, I’d certainly look at it, but I'm generally happy to move, project to project."
He warms to his theme, pondering on the idea that many of us assume an actor must be always in search of his ultimate on-screen alter ego.
"The world has 7 billion in it, so there are a lot of people to play. I’m fascinated by the idea people think there’s this ultimate character out there to play, because what happens after that, when you’ve done that?
"So I just stay open to the prospect of being moved by a script. I love the idea of being surprised, and responding spontaneously to something. That’s what drives me."
And drive there must have been, propelling his supporting role on Ramsay Street - the same teenage stomping ground as Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Natalie Imbruglia, to name a few - into a career celebrated for its diversity: from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, through Memento, LA Confidential, The Hurt Locker, Animal Kingdom and The King’s Speech, to the highly-anticipated Prometheus.
So was this the plan, even back in Neighbours days? He shakes his head.
"I guess I wasn’t that ambitious. I don’t understand the whole plan thing - I think they only lead to disappointment or something. Maybe I just view the world differently to other people. I’m far more about being receptive and being moved, than building a career as such."
Pearce, unlike many Aussie actors made good across the pond, still lives in his adopted home (he moved there from the UK when he was three), and is all too happy to down tools between projects, aware of the pitfalls of working back to back:
"It’s tricky, and I think that’s why I’m taking a break right now, I need to take a few months where I’m not involved in the industry at all - just being me again.
"I have to find the energy to be inspired again by something else, because you do run out of steam eventually. I need to go and fill up the tank."
Lock-out is in UK cinemas today. Watch the trailer below...
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