New York Daily News, 14 April 2000

'Rules' Star His Own Guy

By Robert Dominguez
Daily News Staff Writer

Guy Pearce lives by his own rules of engagement: Every new role has to be unconventional, unpredictable and totally unrecognizable from his last one.

The Australian actor, who co-stars with Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson in the military courtroom drama "Rules of Engagement," says that being a chameleon is what gives him his credibility.

"It's important for me to really vary everything that I do," says Pearce, who, in "Rules," plays a tough Marine Corps lawyer with a convincing New Yawk accent.

"I like the whole transformation thing. As an actor, it's fun and enjoyable to delve into a world that is completely removed from your own, and if that involves [altering] your hair or your voice, or a costume, or changing all sorts of stuff, then great. Doing the same thing all the time just doesn't interest me."

Audiences unfamiliar with Pearce's work will find it hard to recognize him as the same actor who played a bratty drag queen in the 1994 Australian hit "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," or the buttoned-down, conniving cop in 1997's "L.A. Confidential."

Or, for that matter, the haunted U.S. Cavalry officer who went up against superhuman cannibals in last year's little-seen horror flick, "Ravenous."

But being different from role to role, says Pearce, "allows me to express the believability of a character."

Pearce, who was born in England but moved to Australia when he was a boy, had been active in theater as a child and was a competitive bodybuilder when he became a star Down Under thanks to a trio of popular TV series, including "Snowy River: The McGregor Saga."

The success of "L.A. Confidential," Pearce's American film debut, convinced the 32-year-old actor to pursue a Hollywood career. But while he says he's had plenty of offers to do big-budget films like "Rules," Pearce prefers obscure projects like "Ravenous" and 1999's "A Slipping Down Life," a bizarre indie romance also featuring Lili Taylor.

"I like to try and do things that are unconventional and a little unpredictable, I suppose," says Pearce, who still lives in Australia and considers Hollywood "going to the office."

"I've done a few odd, little films that are so odd they haven't been seen by anybody, so I guess that's the price one pays. But I don't feel I have the confidence to do the big Hollywood thing right now much to the disgust of my agent," adds Pearce with a laugh. "I just like to quietly go about my work and do my thing."

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