Guy Pearce Site, March 2000

My Trip To Melbourne to See Guy in Face to Face
by Sandra Jones

I decided to take the coach to Melbourne from my hometown of Adelaide (some 9 hour's travel) on the evening of Friday the 3rd of March. I pre-booked for the evening performance on Saturday the 4th of March. Apparently the play was sold out. The play runs for approximately an hour and a half. I arrived in Melbourne about 5am and spent two hours walking around a dead city with nothing open, hanging out for McDonalds to open at 7am.

The trip was uncomfortable; needless to say - I didn't sleep. I was hoping to get a few hours sleep on Saturday afternoon, but ended up not being able to. My mind was a whirl of different questions running through my mind, mainly due to the fact that I'd met someone in Melbourne who had previously met Guy on two occasions and she enlightened me a bit on how to approach Guy. She warned me that he was a shy man and that he was very anxious. With that information neatly added into my subconscious, I started having second thoughts about meeting him as I'm generally a talker and I didn't want him to feel uneasy in my company. The last thing I wanted was for him to get the impression that I was being overbearing and 'taking over' our meeting.

Having not slept since Thursday night, I was a little red-eyed (to say the very least) and not very alert during the Saturday night performance. I don't think Guy noticed my red eyes (he he), but I think he probably noticed that I was a little on the slow side of things while we were conversing. In fact, at one stage, my mind was such a total blank and because of it, there were spates of silence during the course of the meeting. I even think at one point I was blabbering a bit. (He probably thought I had one too many!!)

After the performance, I headed back to the hotel via the St Kilda Tram Service (Melbourne is famous for its trams) and had a few hours sleep before my early morning departure for my return trip to Adelaide, arriving home at 5.45pm Sunday the 5th of March.


The Malt House - Playbox Theatre

How best to describe this theatre? It's an old style brick building that looks a bit like a warehouse from the front. There are two sets of double doors that are side entrances to the foyer-cum-bar and gallery. There was a poster of Guy and two of his co-stars promoting the play on the front wall of the building. I took a photo and scanned it so that you can all see it. It might be a bit on the small side, but at least you will have a general idea.

I spoke to Heidi (Guy's Sydney agent) on the Friday before leaving and was informed that there was a change in the plans. Originally I was to meet with Guy backstage just outside his dressing room. However, the location was changed to the bar area just after his performance. I was a bit worried about that because you cannot converse at a bar with people milling around near you, crowding you, shouting drink orders near your ear to the barman and pushing and shoving to get closer to the bar, or more to the point, closer to Guy. I envisioned chaos.

After surveying the area when I first walked in and noting how many people were already milling around an hour before the performance, I decided that the best avenue to take was to hand over my paperwork (questions/emails etc.) that I had enclosed in a manila envelope-style folder to the Playbox ticketing staff asking them nicely if they could see that Guy got them early. They were very helpful and said that they'd see that the stage manager was handed the folder promptly. I wrote a little note to Guy letting him know who it was from and wishing him good luck in the performance, also stating that I'd meet him at the bar afterwards. I thought it best that Guy had a chance to flick through a few things before we met. There was a second reason for handing it over ahead of time - I didn't want Guy to know during the course of the performance exactly who I was, and it would have been pretty evident if he'd glanced at the audience and saw me clutching a folder. I also managed to get a nice front row centre seat, so I certainly would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

Now - getting back to the layout of the complex. When you walk in, you find the long bar area running across that side wall between the two sets of main doors. Directly ahead of you is the Playbox Theatre and up some fairly narrow steep steps, you reach the gallery where there are some tables and chairs scattered around. There's a sort of cafe area located at the front of the building and access again is via the side main doors. I didn't go in there so I can't describe that. There are a few tables and chairs in the foyer area directly in front of the bar and some again outside in the patio area (sort of like a beer garden). Most people end up standing around because there aren't enough tables and chairs to go around. I really didn't think too much about the foyer area and the problems I might have talking to Guy through the masses until after the performance.

When the play finished, I got myself a drink fairly quickly and made a beeline to the gallery area. The crowd was still loitering outside the theatre in the foyer area, but there were less people heading towards the gallery. It was pure luck that one of the barmen happened to be up there when I found a seat and I asked him nicely if he wouldn't mind passing on a message to Guy that I was up in the gallery.


Face to Face With Guy

As I said before, I was a bit hesitant about meeting Guy, but even though I felt terrible (zombie like), I'd traveled so far and he was so kind in granting me a short chat, I just had to go through with it all. It was kind of funny in a way because after a few minutes of watching the bar area and seeing some of his co-stars getting drinks and going outside, I gave up watching the bar and for some odd reason was poking around in my handbag when some heavy footsteps on the steep staircase slowed down on the top steps and Guy's voice called my name out. I looked up startled and he was staring at me - again querying if I was Sandra, and only on that second time did I regain my senses and answer him. As my mind wasn't thinking clearly, I hadn't even organised another seat for him, and on recollection, by the time he came up, all the seats were taken. Guy just took over the situation, surveying the area. He gestured for me to follow him towards the back of the gallery as some of the others gave up their seats for us (I think!!) and we moved over to a bigger table. We did have two interruptions during the course of the meeting with other fans with a bit of gumption coming up and asking for autographs.

It was a really odd situation being with Guy at that stage because I wasn't in awe of him as I thought I might be. I remember when I was watching the play, trying to take in all the characters and the storyline, I was in awe of him. He just looked so dashing in the suit he had on. He had a real command, a real presence on stage, and I think everyone's eyes were mainly on him during the play. However, he deliberately was dressed down in shorts, t-shirt and over-shirt, as well as runners when I met him. He looked like he was growing his beard and moustache again as there was a few days growth evident. Generally speaking, what overtook my attention was his personality. He just shone. He's a real charmer and totally down to earth. God - did I wish at that point that there were Guy clones all over the place!!

Everything I'd heard about Guy from others was correct, except the bit about being shy. I find it hard to believe that he could be. Paranoid of the intention of his fans perhaps (wouldnt we all be he he), but not shy!! He was the one who set the conversation going and he was highly complimentary. He made my birthday with just one remark you dont look 40! How very sweet he didnt have to comment. I found him very approachable, very personable, just a gentle, sweet man. We didn't just talk about his work. I deliberately brought up a few things about myself so that he didn't feel he was being questioned endlessly -- at that time of the evening, the last thing I wanted to do was to make Guy feel ill at ease by questioning him constantly. He is a very private person.

I decided to bring up the question of web site help and whether he was prepared to keep up a regular contact with us so that we can maintain up to date information in the work area of Jo and Stacey's sites. He explained tactfully that he has some private concerns about his fans knowing his up and coming work ahead of time. He doesn't feel comfortable about it and we just have to respect that that's a part of him that is important to him to be left alone. It doesn't help Jo or Stacey at all, but we still manage to find out eventually through the Hollywood press! I know there will be a lot of fans reading this that are disappointed, but that's that!

He gave me a bit of an insight into a movie he plans to make in Australia, although nothing is confirmed. It sounds like a really nice human drama with a bit of mystery/fantasy mixed up in it, but I won't go on about it because of what I wrote in the previous paragraph. I will say that I'm happy that he's planning another possible Australian movie in the not too distant future and wish him all the luck in the world finding a good distributor for ALL our sakes! [Note: the movie Guy hinted about to Sandra is Till Human Voices Wake Us, in which he co-stars with Helena Bonham Carter.]

The first conversation we had was on Lisa's email that I had enclosed. I'd been to an internet cafe during the day and printed it off. It was the one regarding an ROE review quoting some Hollywood reporter saying Guy's Bronx accent was not good and Lisa's concern that Guy's performance would be not well received. Guy himself brought that email up straight away. He asked if he could have it - of course I gave it to him. He said he was heading back to the US after the season finishes for this play to help promote ROE up there. I think he wanted to look into that particular reviewer's comments before he made the trip because he wasn't aware of the criticism.

As he said, he had to come up with some American accent to give his character a type of history. Everyone comes from somewhere! We talked a bit about accents and I brought up the subject of LAC and the areas that we've written about in the past where Americans on the list [the Guy Pearce Mailing List] have located a few scenes where his 'Aussieness' came through. I mentioned the scenes in the hospital morgue/corridor with Stensland and Bud and also the scene with the first rapist that he was questioning when he stood at the door and said something. It's been so long since I'd viewed LAC that I couldn't remember the words, but I'm sure he could as he seems to have a wonderful memory.

I mentioned I'd seen Priscilla 52 times at the cinema because it took so long to come out on video. I was at the time working on a terrible subject for the Minister for Correctional Services, namely how drugs got into the state prison system, and because it was so depressing, at the time the only movie I wanted to see was Priscilla! Now I know a lot of people who didn't think much of it, but believe me, it was a godsend! He just joked around when he heard that saying something like "what, once a week?"

We went through some of the questions I'd written down and he gave me some insights into some of his work. For instance, during the making of LAC, the long summary of the events at the Nite Owl are recounted by him towards the end of the movie. He said to me "Curtis gave me the script for that the night before it had to be filmed." I'd have to say that Curtis must have been fairly confident with Guy's acting at that point in the film to put him on the spot like that. Anyway, it's history now and we've seen the finished product. None of us could ever complain about his performance there. It seemed faultless.

On the subject of Woundings, apparently it is on video down here. At this point in time, I haven't had the chance to ring around and find out - it might just be available in Melbourne, but Guy said a friend of his had said that it's available. In regard to the movie, he just said it's a very strange movie. He also said that he'd been asked to promote it in the US while he was over there making a movie but because of his commitments, he couldn't do it in the timeframe requested and never heard anything more about it. I guess from that situation they decided to just forget a cinema release and go straight for video. It's probably available in the UK as well because it was filmed there, but for some reason the US is lagging behind this time.

He volunteered a bit of information about his private life to me as we were discussing Snowy River at the time and he mentioned his love of the country. I dont think hed mind me informing you of his new home that hes bought in the Victorian countryside an old place that hes renovating or has just finished renovating. He bought it in the same general vicinity as to where Snowy River was filmed. He told me that he spent Christmas and the New Year there doing it up. I guess he and Kate may spend many happy times in the quiet countryside between his filming or other work commitments. All sounds so wonderful doesnt it?

I also asked him if he had gardeners and maintenance people helping him with his properties and he quipped "no, I do it all myself." I could see he was very proud of that. One thing that strikes you about Guy is his boundless energy. Hes a fast thinker, extremely intelligent and from what I saw, he darts around from place to place not dawdling at all.

Hes a tall man but after seeing the photo of myself with him, youll notice hes not overly tall. I think its an illusion because hes so lithe. Im 54 or 55 (cant remember), so you can get an idea from that.

Anyway, I think that's enough of what Guy and I talked about. I had my cassette recorder with me but I was a bit out of it that night, and totally forgot to put the bloody thing on!! On top of that, after he left me to go join his group of co-stars outside, I suddenly realised I hadn't asked him for a photo. Under normal circumstances I would have thought it's not worth interrupting him and embarrassing myself over, but having come all that way, I would have kicked myself if I'd gone home without one, so sheepishly I walked over to his table, excused myself and apologised but asked for a photo with him. He gestured towards the lobby again saying something about needing more light and asked me if I had a camera. I went delving into my handbag and retrieved my little camera and put my folder with a few autographs that he'd written up while we were talking on the pamphlet table behind us. He took the email, questions and a micro-cassette to answer them on and is sending them back via the post at some stage soon. One of the staff took two photos. (It was a good thing I asked for two because only one turned out.) I thanked Guy who rushed back to his group and then I retrieved my bag and dashed out in a hurry too.

I walked a few dark streets to St Kilda Rd, which is one of the main thoroughfares and where all the trams are - got nearly up to the top before I realised what an idiot I was. I went and left the folder with the autographs sitting on the pamphlet table. Horror of horrors - I had to rush back and hope I wasn't noticed meekly sliding into the theatre complex again. The bar staff noticed me and there were quiet stares. I just smiled at them and walked as quickly as I could out of the place - turned in the opposite direction to Guy and his co-stars and rushed away. I just felt so silly that night, but by the same token, he couldn't have been nicer if he'd tried. He made me feel at ease, even though I was not quite 'there' that night.

I must admit, I was really trapped when he asked me if I enjoyed the play. To be totally frank, I wasn't even THINKING about the play when I met up with Guy and it had only just finished. I don't know where my mind was that night!! I think I just said something like "it was very emotional" to him and we talked briefly about one of the main characters.


The Play

I'm surprised that I've remembered as much as I have. The play itself has been well written by one of Australia's leading playwrights, David Williamson. Because the play is fairly short, it doesn't take long to read the 60 odd pages of the script, however the Aussie 'ockerisms' that our form of English displays might be hard for most of you to understand. Please feel free to ask questions back to me at any point if you are not sure of a sentence. I really don't mind explaining our short forms of words to you all. If you are the type that can easily be offended by swear words on a regular basis, don't bother reading it. It's a very bitter, angry sort of a play, highly dramatic. The audience is really forced to become involved in the character's pain as they're describing their problems to all and sundry because the actual set is very uninteresting. There's some highly charged moments and one particular actor that Guy and I spoke about briefly is full of torment from the beginning to the end of the play - very hard going for an actor I would imagine, especially two performances a day of that for 19 days. The play is set in a factory environment so Guy's Australian character is more ocker (a bit more of a harsher sound to his accent than he normally talks in). When you read the play you will realise that most of Guy's lines were at the beginning and then he basically stays silent through a lot of the dialogue, just intercepting, taking charge with a few words here and there, a few looks here and there, pulling both parties back into line when they got out of hand (basically all the time).

Anyway, I'm signing off now. I feel I've said enough and I hope you have enjoyed reading my report.


Postscript:

Here are some answers to questions some of you have asked. Guy gave me the answers in a handwritten letter which I don't want to put on the net.

1. I asked him if he had any plans to direct.
"I would one day love to direct but probably only with a script I'd written myself. However, I am happy to just concentrate on acting for a while."

2. I asked him for an idea of who his favorite direct or directors are.
"A difficult one as they all seem to vary so much from film to film - Gillian Armstrong, Ang Lee, Scorsese, Mike Leigh, Curtis Hanson (of course), Antonia Bird, Chris Nolan (the last 3 I've worked with).

3. Re: Adela's question regarding whether he was concerned about Australia possibly becoming a republic and cutting ties with his birth country, England.
"I don't know enough about politics to justify an answer about the Republic."

4. I asked him if he wished to do more comedy.
"I do enjoy comedy - I'll do one if a great one comes along. I'm not actively searching for one though."

5. I asked who the most interesting or funny actors he'd worked with would be.
"Hugo Weaving always sticks in my mind as one of the most interesting people to work with and Matt Day one of the funniest."

6. Who would he most like to work with in the future?
"I would one day love to work with Gary Oldman."

7. Are you a vegetarian?
"I'm not a vegetarian. I pretend to be and I try to be, particularly as I learn more and more about the chemical interference of livestock."

8. Is it likely you will ever do a play on Broadway in America?
" 'Face to Face' on Broadway, huh? Good idea, we should get onto it."

9. I asked him how he prepared for different accents and I must have mentioned something aboiut the ROE role and a 'southern' accent.
"Firstly, it was a NY accent in ROE, not a southern accent. I'll prepare by listening to tapes made of people from the particular region I'm focusing on OR meet people myself from those regions."

10. Is he planning to release a CD of his own music?
"Music is a very important part of my life. It keeps me calm and happy. However, I'm always in a turmoil as to whether releasing music will have a detrimental effect on my credibility as an actor - you know 'Jack of all trades....' "

11. I told him about the frustration we all go through as his fans waiting endlessly for some of his work to be released. There are some segments of this answer I have to edit out because of their derogatory content.
"Delays in the release of work is frustrating. However, I tend not to worry about it too much anymore. In some ways it's out of my hadns and not my responsibility, so I have to be able to let it go and leave it in the hands of the gods or the producers. (Important, however! Don't get these two parties mixed up - many people do, including producers themselves and it's a daft mistake.) I do what I do for the experience of doing it and once it's done, it's done - I'm talking about acting of course. If I let myself get bogged down with the frustrations of badly handled released or just late releases, I think I would feel too much like a victim - not a good place to be! Woundings and ASDL were enjoyable experiences - the former I believe is alreading on video???" {Sandra's note - yes it is.)

12. I spoke about the subtle nuances in his acting in Halifax FP playing twins. I was surprised by his answer.
"Halifax was a challenging experience and I think an unsuccessful one on my part(s)."

13. I asked him what brought about the end of Snowy River - whether it was because the Family Channel had opted out of the financial arrangement and the cost of the production was too high or whether he just wanted to leave.
"My departure from Snowy River in '96 was for the same reason as everyone elses - the show finished - I was happy about this as it had gone on for long enough. Long running TV is not something I would like to pursue."

14. I said if you are in the mood, would you answer this? The Neighbours reruns are currently showing down here every afternoon. Do you sneak a peak at your early work in the industry from time to time?
"I've seen the old reruns of Neighbours. I caught an episode back in early Feb. I think. I cringed of course at my character and my work. It is hard to feel good about that early work but I do understand that one must grow so if you start off badly, then that gives you alot of scope to improve."

15. I asked for some website help, hoping that he'd be amenable to a regular email between us so that the two main websites can be updated regularly and perhaps he could do a sort of 'Stop Press' from the sets he's on. (I already knew the answer to this one because we spoke about it that night). He has a copy of Jo's front pages. I didn't have the time to print of Stacey's HOWEVER in the 13 min 'Sunday' Program, they show both sites on his profile special and I now believe he's been in and out of both of them quite regularly. He's a sly one!!!
"As I've already said, I don't feel comfortable keeping up a regular email, however, I will check into the site every once in a while and will right the wrongs if I see any."





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