“I hated every minute of it”: The movies Guy Pearce despised making

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Even though he’s played a major part in more than a few excellent films, Guy Pearce would be among the first to echo the belief that he should have ended up as a much bigger star than he ultimately became.

Following the tried-and-tested pipeline that’s been providing Hollywood with major players for decades, Peace appeared in both of Australian soap opera’s proving grounds by starring in Neighbours and Home and Away at the beginning of his career.

After gaining notice in Hollywood for cult classic road trip comedy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, leading roles in Curtis Hanson’s ‘Best Picture’-nominated crime thriller L.A. Confidential and Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending breakout Memento had many predicting eventual A-list status.

His first blockbuster outing in The Time Machine hardly turned out as he was hoping, with Pearce admitting the fact he’s “always hated the game” was perhaps responsible for his failure to capitalise on the hottest period of his career. “Actors like me, the ones in the middle, tend to lose out,” he reflected on being in the tricky – and cutthroat – ground between character actors and movie stars.

Still, he played his part in two ‘Best Picture’ winners, The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech, and has never been out of work for too long. However, there was one specific period when he found himself perilously close to being burned out completely. He was working just for the sake of it, and as a result, his passion for acting was running in very short supply.

The aforementioned H.G. Wells adaptation, bank-robbing crime drama The Hard Word, historical adventure The Count of Monte Cristo, and drama Till Human Voices Wake Us were all released within months of each other between January and September of 2002, and shooting four movies back-to-back was when Pearce decided enough was enough.

“I needed to get out of the industry. I hated every minute of it, hated everyone,” he said to The Guardian of his prolific period. “I told my agent, ‘Don’t call me, leave me alone’. In that year off, I realised the value of what I was doing. I needed to get away from the stuff I didn’t like in order to see the stuff I did.”

Pearce wouldn’t be seen on-screen again for another 22 months until he starred in the well-received family film The Two Brothers, with his creative juices fully re-energised. Pointing to how his past as a child actor subconsciously influenced him, he didn’t want to be “in my 30s doing something that was based on the decision of an eight-year-old,” and instead used his sabbatical to realign his priorities.

He’s remained a regular fixture of cinema ever since, to such an extent that there’s only been one year since 2008 where he didn’t pop up in at least two features.

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