The Age, 03 February 2000
By Suzanne Brown

The staff at Playbox Theatre happily admit they screamed when they heard Guy Pearce had accepted a role in the David Williamson play, Face to Face.

Even Williamson, Australia's best-known playwright, rang from Noosa to confirm whether they'd cast "the Guy Pearce?"

The Guy Pearce, that is, who received rave reviews for his role in the American film, LA Confidential, where he starred alongside Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger, and the Guy Pearce who cut a curvy figure in a dress in the hit Australian film, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

In a coup for Playbox, Pearce will be on stage next month in his first theatre role for seven years. Sitting in the Playbox Theatre cafe yesterday, dressed in a black top and jeans, Pearce looked relaxed, and a little thin, but otherwise unchanged.

Despite his success in LA, he says Melbourne has always been home for him, his wife, Kate, their dog and two cats. Sure, he and Kate rented in LA for six months or so during filming, but he didn't set up there permanently and has no intention of doing so.

"I'm much happier spending more time at home," he said. "I just love it here. There is a competitive quality to LA, and by the time I leave I always feel a bit anxious.

"I never really realised what it was about Melbourne I liked until I spent time away. I don't like the smog in LA, I don't like the fact that there is no real community anywhere, I don't like the fact that people don't look at you when they are talking to you and get so frustrated with you because you have an Australian accent. They're very narrow-minded as far as other cultures (go) and I don't have the energy to play the game."

He says he would rather play his guitar. His reluctance to join the social scene means he rarely bumps into other Australians cutting a swath through Hollywood.

"I tend not to seek people out too much when I go away. Most of the time I'm in meetings or doing films, so consequently I'm holed up in a place reading scripts the whole time. It's a weird kind of existence."

As for perceptions in the industry that after the success of LA Confidential he should be appearing in other big budget studio pictures, Pearce is unconcerned.

"After I did LA Confidential, I had a lot of people say to me, `Right so you're now an A-list American actor?' You say, `No, Tom Cruise, who earns $20 million a movie is an A-list American actor, I am one of the six gazillion actors who people have seen in one movie and who they kind of liked."

It hasn't just been audience expectations, though. Pearce's agents have also been keen for him to accept high-profile roles. But Pearce apparently has a weakness for interesting roles in films he believes will be engaging.

"It's difficult, because you don't always know how a film's going to turn out. So you could watch a finished film and think, `shit, I said no to that and now that I look at it, it's original, whereas on paper it looked like a bland idea'. But that's just the nature of the beast.

"I'm more than happy to do little independent films for the rest of my life.

"Interesting and unusual films, because I really get off on doing it and I feel much more confident in that sort of surrounding."

His latest film roles are in Rules of Engagement, due for American release in March, and Memento, an independent film by English writer/director Christopher Nolan, which is slated to open at Cannes.

But before they are released, Melbourne audiences will be able to see Pearce in the flesh when Face to Face, a play about a sacked laborer who takes his frustrations out on his boss's Mercedes Benz, opens on 1 March.

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