Five Favorite Films

Guy Pearce's Five Favorite Films

The Proficient Actor Explains His Love for Peter Weir, Al Pacino, and Why Elephant Man Hits Close to Home.

by | March 7, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Memento was a mindbending mystery flick that rested almost entirely on Guy Pearce‘s electrifying breakout performance in the lead role. Consider his work in other films like The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, L.A., Confidential, The King’s Speech, The Time Machine, ABC’s When We Rise, and soon, Alien: Covenant, and it’s easy to see why his remarkable versatility has become a hot commodity.

This week, Pearce stars in Brimstone as an intimidating reverend out for revenge, and we were almost a’scared to ask the guy anything, but we were pleased to find that he loves movies just as much as the rest of us. Ever charming and earnest, he gave us his list of Five Favorite Films, which you can read below.

The Elephant Man (1980) 91%

It came out in 1980 and I have a sister with an intellectual disability. I think in 1980 — when I was 12 and I saw The Elephant Man for the first time — the film just struck a chord in me that nothing ever had before, and it does to this day when I watch it. Obviously the performances by Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt and John Gielgud, etc. are just so sensitive and touching that it’s heartbreaking for me. It really touches me in a way that I think has — not to suggest that my sister has the same condition that Joseph Merrick had — but the way in which that character feels ostracized and the way in which people are judgmental of him are all things that really hit home for me as a young boy trying to protect my sister out there in the world. Very much connected to my upbringing, but obviously quite a different story.

But I just think Anthony Hopkins in that film, the way that David Lynch captured him, and obviously the way he performed that role of Freddy Treves just… There’s nothing better. Anthony Hopkins is someone who I think does sensitivity on screen better than anybody anyway, so his heartbreak and his compassion for that character was just unforgettable really.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 98%

Something actually I watched recently — my girlfriend hadn’t seen it yet — A Streetcar Named Desire. I’m a huge Marlon Brando fan, as a lot of actors are. I know it’s a cliché, but obviously there are many performances of Brando’s that are just exquisite, but there’s something about that performance as Stanley in Streetcar that I think is just so raw and electric, as everybody says. I’m not saying anything that anybody hasn’t said before, so excuse my banter, but you just cannot take your eyes off him. I think as a young male actor at the time, when I first started seeing that film, you just wanted to deliver everything that he could deliver, and of course, none of us can. I certainly can’t, but the envy that I would feel for him, as well as the thrill of watching what he could do, was so mixed up in my head and my body that I just go back to that film every couple of years and watch it again.

Obviously, Tennessee Williams is such a wonderful writer, and we all understand, I think, those powerful emotions that exist within families, and those things that seem very subtle at one point that can then be the breakdown of a family. I just think the combination of his writing and Brando’s performance is just exquisite. It’s really exquisite.

The Godfather (1972) 98%

Okay. I do come back to The Godfather, and to be honest, if I had more time to think about it, I would probably leave The Godfather out only because I know that it’s a film that is often touted. But primarily, I think it’s about Pacino for me.

I think all of the things that make The Godfather what people call the perfect film, where you’re taken into a world where, for most us, is really just — we’re never going to go there ourselves, into the world of the mafia and organized crime, but to see how it’s connected to family and how that is the basis of this story being the bond within a family, is so foreign to, I think, most of us. Foreign as far as where killing is part of family life. It’s just so unusual, but at the same time, it’s done in such a way that they make it feel perfectly normal.

Of course, again, there’s Brando, there’s Pacino, and then in the second one we see De Niro.

I think I’m often drawn to films primarily because of the performances, and speaking of performances, I would then probably move to Dog Day Afternoon with Al Pacino for very different reasons. We see Pacino in Godfather in an extremely restrained performance. And then, of course, in Dog Day Afternoon, we see just this loose mess of a human being spilling out out all over the place, and he’s just absolutely electric and just as compelling and just as unpredictable as the character Michael Corleone in Godfather, but completely at opposite ends of the spectrum.

I just think Pacino is someone for me who, like Brando, I just find him completely watchable and can’t get enough of him. Anything he does, really, I would find compelling. Although there have been performances lately that haven’t been as interesting as the earlier stuff.

[Godfather and Dog Day Afternoon] are so different. They’re really, really different. I think Godfather is a better film, but I think Dog Day — that performance — John Cazale‘s performance in Dog Day, as well — and as you know, I have really eclectic taste anyway in the kinds of things that I like, and the kinds of jobs that I choose, too. I get just as much out of both of those films. The potential energy that exists in Godfather versus Dog Day is that they’re just extreme, explosive kind of sweaty performances of Pacino [and they are] are two completely different things, but they both affect me a great deal.

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) 81%

I’m also a big fan of comedy as well, so even things to this day like Bridget Jones’s Diary, there was just something about Bridget Jones that I thought … And I guess it’s [Renée Zellweger‘s] performance. I remember there was a lot of talk about the fact that they cast an American in that role, but I think she captured the sensibility of a repressed English girl who was desperate to fall in love so beautifully And as an actor myself, often you caught slack if you’re playing a gay person and you’re not really gay, or you’re playing an American and you’re not really American, or you’re playing whatever it happens to be. I just think if you can find the essence in a character and pull it off, then it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your nationality is, etc. There’s something to me about that film that’s like the perfect romantic comedy. I just think it’s a bit hard to put my finger on what it is, to be honest. It’s just beautifully executed. Everything’s so well balanced. Often whenever I read a romantic comedy now, I’m comparing it to Bridget Jones and if it’s planned well.

Gallipoli (1981) 91%

One of my favorite directors is Peter Weir, and a film that I watched recently of his is Gallipoli — Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, as well as a bunch of other great Australian actors. I think that film for me is this incredible combination of the brutality of war and yet the sensitivity of the human spirit, and I think Mel Gibson is absolutely electric and fantastic in that film, but I think Mark Lee is utterly heartbreaking. His almost non-sexual personality and spirit is so engaging and sensitive that the film, and the combination with his performance, the energy of the film, and then the music in that film really — I think music is a really important aspect in film, and, as you know, you can play Yakety Sax over a scene, or you can play something from Morricone over a scene, and the scene will then have a completely different meaning and feel. That’s an extreme example, but if music is done well in a movie, it can turn anything, even a three dimensional performance — it can make it turn more three dimensional because it enhances what is meant to be there. I think that the music used in Gallipoli is just utterly heartbreaking. Really, really heartbreaking and beautiful.

 


Brimstone opens on Friday, Mar. 10, 2017 in limited release.

Tag Cloud

golden globes miniseries Superheroe canceled TV shows Super Bowl docudrama YouTube Trophy Talk Pet Sematary TIFF TV Star Wars political drama award winner TV renewals BBC blaxploitation PBS Trailer IFC Films DC Comics supernatural OWN spain Marvel Television Ellie Kemper Captain marvel Pixar Emmys latino Spike Endgame A&E ITV Certified Fresh cooking Writers Guild of America ratings HBO Max Hulu HBO Nickelodeon Interview Masterpiece halloween technology hispanic Shondaland based on movie Nominations Black Mirror ABC Warner Bros. BBC America Rocketman dceu social media Mindy Kaling Podcast The Walking Dead spinoff Spectrum Originals TV Land psychological thriller Animation cancelled television Classic Film RT History Schedule PaleyFest vampires dramedy Disney Plus Music Kids & Family singing competition FX mockumentary Brie Larson spanish language NBC GoT 007 Film slashers richard e. Grant Biopics FOX Rocky casting tv talk zero dark thirty video Tarantino SDCC Elton John animated BET talk show stand-up comedy Election Heroines Apple Box Office Musicals disaster cults serial killer E3 LGBT Chernobyl 20th Century Fox Emmy Nominations Horror Amazon Prime nature Crackle YouTube Red Binge Guide mutant Holiday The Arrangement Cannes Marvel WGN See It Skip It cancelled TV shows Turner Classic Movies Anna Paquin LGBTQ game show Avengers Fantasy composers Spring TV facebook Ovation 24 frames independent Stephen King sequel Sony Pictures YA psycho Red Carpet Drama Disney+ Disney Plus DirecTV harry potter Action New York Comic Con IFC CMT Teen comiccon 45 Character Guide Mystery Amazon Mary Poppins Returns festivals NYCC Walt Disney Pictures romance Sci-Fi period drama Valentine's Day 2019 Rom-Com politics indie Showtime crime Rock MCU Winter TV free movies robots Holidays Crunchyroll Video Games doctor who Lucasfilm true crime what to watch Winners Country Mudbound Calendar streaming Watching Series CBS All Access Paramount Network cancelled TV series crime thriller USA Pirates Logo Epix Grammys American Society of Cinematographers El Rey cops GIFs Star Trek TCM San Diego Comic-Con SundanceTV Fox News screenings Apple TV Plus USA Network Sundance Now Dark Horse Comics aliens rotten movies we love TCA theme song DC Universe elevated horror MSNBC TBS MTV A24 DGA CBS VH1 Freeform 21st Century Fox Lifetime Christmas movies 2015 Columbia Pictures strong female leads Pride Month Toys Chilling Adventures of Sabrina revenge The Purge ABC Family CNN Acorn TV batman Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hist Reality Competition Disney Channel space SXSW Television Academy TCA 2017 dragons foreign 2016 Polls and Games Best and Worst Arrowverse crime drama comic Nat Geo Hallmark werewolf versus police drama Women's History Month Set visit binge Turner name the review History anime Shudder zombie comics Opinion medical drama transformers cartoon witnail Tumblr ghosts 71st Emmy Awards cancelled romantic comedy E! Awards RT21 FXX WarnerMedia unscripted sports Bravo adventure 2020 thriller blockbuster Comedy Song of Ice and Fire Quiz spy thriller jamie lee curtis renewed TV shows AMC Film Festival children's TV Marathons 2018 TNT VICE Food Network spider-man travel Premiere Dates Mary Tyler Moore ESPN Starz 2017 Syfy Thanksgiving Comedy Central Apple TV+ YouTube Premium zombies Universal Esquire Comic Book Musical Christmas discovery television war National Geographic Extras Britbox Lionsgate joker Reality Lifetime Infographic Awards Tour Disney adaptation breaking bad Creative Arts Emmys TLC biography Pop crossover Western Martial Arts diversity Vudu First Look dc Amazon Prime Video Cosplay kids Hallmark Christmas movies The Witch finale Trivia Ghostbusters anthology Sneak Peek TruTV series Netflix The CW movies Comics on TV Disney streaming service justice league Peacock Year in Review teaser natural history christmas movies quibi President game of thrones Paramount Photos Sundance Netflix Christmas movies First Reviews science fiction Family GLAAD Marvel Studios X-Men cinemax cats Cartoon Network Superheroes Mary poppins boxoffice DC streaming service toy story CW Seed Countdown sitcom Fall TV APB canceled historical drama Oscars green book book south america Summer Tomatazos cars Adult Swim