LOS ANGELES — Australian actor Guy Pearce is not exactly known for his work in family-friendly films. "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," "L.A. Confidential," and "Memento," are all decidedly adult fare.
But his latest movie, "Two Brothers," is a family film through and through. It's an animal story about two tiger siblings who are separated and then reunited. "There was a great sense of otherworldliness, where the center of things was the animals instead of people," says Pearce, "and I felt these were areas I hadn't gone into before."
Pearce plays a big-game hunter who comes to realize the consequences of his actions through witnessing the plight of the two wild cats. He says the film came at a pivotal moment in his career when he was trying to find a path to some sort of inner peace. "I was getting to that stage in my life when I needed to meditate and calm myself down," he says.
By his own account, the actor is motivated by new challenges. He never went to drama school and has had to learn from experience ever since he landed a role in an Australian soap opera in his teens. Since then, Pearce has developed a critical reputation as an actor willing to take on edgy roles.
"I haven't really planned this career," he says. "I don't feel I'm really confident with what I do, I'm always struggling to make sense of what I do."
He has regrets about starring in "The Time Machine," a 2002 version of the H.G. Wells novel. The high-budget film, loaded with special effects, turned into what Pearce calls his least enjoyable professional experience. "There were too many cooks," he says, adding, "we'll film 12 endings and I as an actor don't know what movie I'm in anymore."
Also perplexing for the actor was the amount of money spent on the sci-fi extravaganza. By contrast, his most enjoyable film experience, "Memento," was a frugal affair. The 2000 thriller, in which Pearce portrayed a man whose quest to find a murderer is hampered by a loss of short-term memory, was a box-office and critical success. "Nobody had to kick anybody up the pants, we were all so inspired by the script," he says.
The actor was also taken with the script for "Two Brothers," written by the director Jean-Jacques Annaud. He realizes the film is aiming for a family audience and regrets that the notion of a family film has gotten such a negative connotation. "Why can't we have a family movie that incorporates philosophy and values and ideals and things to make us think," he says. "It's a shame, there's no reason for these things to be left out."