Guy Pearce in “Traitor,” recently released on DVD.
From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Guy Pearce takes on role of ‘team player’ in ‘Traitor’
NEW YORK – Asked about working with Guy Pearce on the topical thriller “Traitor,” Don Cheadle dryly quipped, “Who? I don’t know who that is.”
“Guy and I always joke (because) we have three scenes together in the movie. … People go, ‘What’s it like doing a movie with Guy Pearce?’ And I say, ‘I don’t know. I think it’s OK.’ But I’ve seen you guys more than I saw Guy in the whole thing,” Cheadle told reporters during the summer press day for the movie, recently released on DVD.
But the question “Who is Guy Pearce?” is a valid, since the Australian actor has a resume that suggests chameleon-like tendencies.
He played a by-the-book cop in his first American film, “L.A. Confidential,” and the leading role in “Memento,” as a man with short-term memory loss tracking his wife’s killer. U.K. audiences still remember him for playing a hunky young teacher 20 years ago on the soap “Neighbours” and a flamboyant drag queen in the 1994 film “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
In the globe-hopping thriller “Traitor,” Pearce plays an intellectual FBI agent hunting former U.S. Special Operations officer Samir Horn (Cheadle), a Muslim-American mystery man who has been tied to terrorist activities.
Pearce, 41, said he simply tries to stay open to the various opportunities that come his way.
“What’s ideal for me is being able to sort of constantly just venture into different walks of life and different situations and kind of … emotional states. And that’s what I find fascinating,” he said during interviews at the W Union Square Hotel.
Different roles draw him in for different reasons: the chance to work with a certain director, to play a particularly intriguing character, or in the case of “Traitor,” to be a team player in a movie with an interesting take on current affairs.
“The film on a whole looks at the idea of just taking a minute to sort of understand what’s going on on the other side of the fence, particularly in this day and age when we’re all supposed to sort of fear what’s going on over there,” said Pearce, looking relaxed in a Radiohead T-shirt with mussed hair and a bit of stubble.
Interestingly, Pearce said he joined the project in part because of Cheadle, though he knew they wouldn’t share many scenes.
“I would have liked to have worked with him more … but I think I was drawn to it because he was in it,” Pearce said. “He tends to be in things that I find very appealing.”
Cheadle, who had input into casting as a producer, said, Pearce’s versatility made him a natural for the role. The Aussie learned a Tennessee accent for “Traitor.”
“Guy’s obviously a really talented actor famous for playing a bunch of different types of roles and different characters and dialects and everything,” Cheadle said.
After playing a string of heavy-duty roles, Pearce tried his hand this year at family-friendly comedy. He stars opposite Adam Sandler in the fantasy “Bedtime Stories,” which opened last week in theaters.
“It just seemed like a fun, kind of appropriate thing to do at the time,” said Pearce, who has a musical number in the film. “It’ll probably be the most over-the-top thing I’ve ever done I think. It’s pretty funny.”
Travel and accommodations provided by Overture Films.