Although he's thrown more than his fair share of fists on-screen, Lockout is the first time Guy Pearce is playing a flat-out action hero. But it was important to Guy that his character -- the wise-cracking, ass-kicking Snow -- be more than a catchphrase-spewing, human action figure.
Thankfully for Guy, and audiences, he was working off an idea from writer/director Leon's Luc Besson (wrongly convicted criminal is tasked to rescue the president's daughter from a high-tech space prison when the inmates take over) that is equal parts cheesy and clever, resulting in one of the year's most enjoyable movie-going experiences.
I caught up with Guy to talk about Snow's appeal, how he prepared to bring this character to life and which role from his past he'd love to resurrect.
Insider.com: What attracted you to Lockout?
Guy Pearce: The pay. The pay and the Serbian food [laughs]. Initially, I really responded to the humor of this guy's attitude. He has all the attributes of an action hero: he's strong, he's tough, he's all that. But he's sick to death of it. He's over it. He doesn't care about it any more. He can't be bothered getting hurt anymore. Essentially he'd rather be at home on the couch, drinking a beer and watching football. I found that really appealing because I struggle with the idea of playing an "action hero." Most of the time, they think they're pretty cool -- and while Snow does think he's pretty cool at times, I ultimately believe that if he didn’t have to be in situations like this any more, he wouldn't. In a way, he’s kind of an old fashioned character – look back at cowboys from the 50s. The smoking, world-weary guys who look for the least amount of work they can do while still getting the job done.
Insider: I have to say, the idea of a space prison is also pretty cool.
Guy: I loved the idea of a prison in space. It was depressing at first, but not so unrealistic when you look at the prison system the world over. It wouldn't surprise me if the inevitable choice is to plunk them out in orbit. There was some realistic elements to the story despite this being a piece of entertainment.
Insider: Physically, there was quite a transformation for you as well.
Guy: Given the role, I knew I would have to bulk up. It's something I've done that in the past, so I know how that makes me feel. I know how I carry myself when I'm bigger, so I knew that would add to my performance. There's a lumbering quality to him. Even though Snow is quite agile when he needs to be, at the point in his life that we find him, there's a tired quality to his gait. Which you see in the attitude.
Insider: Do you typically spend a lot of time thinking about the physicality of a character?
Guy: Acting really is a physical thing for me. Far more than an intellectual one. I need to get on my feet and start moving it about before I find answers. Also, I think about the voice a lot. It's a combination of attitude, physicality, personality and voice for me.
Insider: I always love asking actors if they could go back and revisit a character from their past to play the next chapter in their life, who would it be?
Guy: I think most of the time when I finish a job, I'm so happy to shed the personality and leave it alone, but The Proposition is an interesting one. We all kept wondering what Charlie does after that movie ends. Does he find the first therapist ever to have established the first business in Australia and spent the next 10 years telling her, "You'll never guess what just happened to me." [laughs] I also think Lenny from Memento would be an interesting one.
Lockout is now playing.
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- Guy Pearce