The Age, 08 September 2000

Ovation for Guy Pearce at Venice
By Mary Colbert

Australian actor Guy Pearce received a five-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival yesterday for his performance in Christopher Nolan's film noir thriller, Memento.

The psychological revenge drama, co-starring Matrix's Carrie Ann Moss, has been one of the festival's critical and audience hits.

Pearce, who plays a man suffering memory loss after the rape and murder of his wife, injects the role with power, subtlety and range.

"I could never have dreamed of this when I first did theatre in Geelong as a kid," Pearce told The Age.

Pearce was the first actor on Nolan's wish-list. But with only one low-budget film to his credit, the 29-year-old British writer-director only dared to hope that the script was enough to appeal to the Australian, whose star has been on the rise since his breakthrough Hollywood film, LA Confidential.

"I was attracted to it for a number of reasons," said Pearce. "The quality of the writing was much richer and more detailed than most scripts, its structure was innovative, and I really responded to the emotional plight of the character.

"Subsequent meetings with Chris and seeing his first movie were the icing on the cake. I knew we could really work organically on this project."

Nolan raved about his star actor. "He was wonderful," he said. "This was an incredibly demanding role. We only had a 25-day shoot, which sometimes required him to do nine pages of material in a day. Any screen actor will tell you that's a very tall order ... His concentration and range were amazing."

Memento is one of several films, along with Kenneth Lonergan's debut You Can Count on Me, that have come up trumps in the out-of-competition, festival side-bar events.

guy edward pearce