Little known fact: Guy Pearce was approached to play that lead role in the 2003 comic book adaptation Daredevil (the part that eventually went to Ben Affleck). According to Pearce, "playing a comic strip superhero was, some years ago for me, totally out of the question" back when he was courted to play the red-suited, blind superhero. Times have obviously changed, as this weekend he'll be seen opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man 3.
"I think I've broadened my horizons a bit," Pearce tells Hollywood.com. "The difference obviously is that the Iron Man films have proven to be really interesting and really fun and really cleverly done."
Pearce, who recently appeared in Prometheus, Lawless, and the Sundance premiere Breathe In, believes that "a lot of comic book movies out there that don't really work" but Marvel's Iron Man franchise has towed an "interesting line between reality and fantasy" while putting its character first.
In Iron Man 3, Pearce plays Aldrich Killian, mastermind behind a regenerative body enhancement process known as "Extremis." When he arrives on the doorstep of Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), he's your typical genius playboy with a shimmer of pure evil in his eye. But 13 years prior, when he first met Stark at a fateful New Year's Eve party, he was mangy, awkward, and unfit for the future Iron Man's attention.
"Here is someone who wants to get out of the hole that he's in," Pearce says. "He realizes he's annoying, he realizes he's irritating, he's constantly being rejected (and obviously we see in the film that he's rejected by Tony Stark). I think when someone you admire so much turns their back on you, it's almost like a final straw."
Pearce likens Killian's evolution to the modern obsession with plastic surgery. For a fragile personality, there can be an addictive nature to change. "Doing one thing to solve a problem and then thinking you need to do something else because there's another problem and do something else because there's another problem and never knowing where to stop. To me, it was an image I had in mind when looking at Killian and how far he takes it. Getting to the point where he just wants to take over the world," explains Pearce.
Killian may be Shane Black's subtle riff on "comic book fan culture," but Pearce is quick to clear up that it's not symbolically all-encompassing. "Here is someone who clearly has a lot of social difficulties, he's physically disabled in a particular kind of way, [and] he's extremely enthusiastic and ambitious. It was a tricky character to play," Pearce admits. The actor says he's portraying a "geek," but not every geek. Pearce says he's run into a similar situation before where one character resonates as a larger metaphor for audiences and that that's not the case with Killian. "When we did Priscilla [,Queen of the Desert] and a lot of people stepped forward and said, 'you guys are trying to say that all gay people are like this.' 'Well, no, I'm just portraying one character. Not the entire universe of gay characters.'"
Much like Prometheus and Lawless, Pearce goes under the guise of makeup and wigs to bring the pre-dapper-makeover Killian to life. The actor says that he enjoys "the possibilities of costume and makeup and the ability to change yourself on film" and is always surprised when actors look exactly the same from movie to movie. The transformation is part of the supporting character appeal — and for many years, it was the only type of role he wanted to take. He says the reason he took Iron Man 3 and not Daredevil was that he "wasn't asked to play Iron Man himself." At the time Daredevil was casting, he was worried about becoming "a leading man."
"I struggled years ago with the whole prospect of being pigeonholed," he says. "People pounce on you straight away and say, 'Oh, you're a good looking guy, we're going to shove you into leading men roles.' I really fought against that." Pearce recalls getting a taste of leading man work during his time on Australian TV show Neighbours. It left him craving to go back to the stage, where he got his start. "As a kid I did a lot of theater and played a lot of varied roles and I got much more satisfaction out of doing that. So I fought against playing a leading man role. I didn't think that was me. I didn't have anything to say."
"Now if it comes along, I'm more able to go and do it and I'm not afraid that I'll get stuck there," Pearce says of his decision to enlist for Iron Man 3. Pearce recently starred in the action vehicle Lockout where he both had a blast and nailed the persona of gruff, antihero Snow. Pearce says he's come to a moment in his career where he can perform and feel fulfilled tackling the leading man role. "I feel like I can do that (not that I'm doing it that often). I can do something like Killian in Iron Man and think that my versatility is still afloat."
So the ball is in Marvel's court now. Daredevil reboot, anyone?
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
More: Daredevil Can Join the Avengers NowA Non-Geek's Guide to 'Iron Man'Loving Gwyneth Paltrow in 'Iron Man 3'
From Our Partners:Miley Strips Down in Raunchy Shoot (Celebuzz)Actresses Without Teeth Tumblr Is Creepy, Amazing (vh1)
Following in the footsteps of The Avengers, the most comic booky of comic book movies, writer/director Shane Black has helped redefine the Marvel hero Iron Man for his third outing by giving the cold shoulder to the source material. It's hard to call Iron Man 3 a "comic book movie," even while Robert Downey, Jr. flies around in a destructive exoskeleton, aiming to put a stop to a baddie named The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and his fire-breathing minions. The movie plays more like a sequel to Black's 2005 neo-noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (also starring Downey, Jr.). Detective-esque voiceover, razor sharp banter, and an obstacle that has Tony Stark piecing together clues and rarely appearing in his iconic armor, Iron Man 3 avoids fantasy in favor of a hefty helping of pulp fiction. The setup makes way for Downey, Jr.'s best work in the franchise.
Iron Man 3 suggests that the whole flying-into-space-to-blow-up-a-worm-hole-and-almost-dying thing from The Avengers' Battle of New York took a toll on Tony. To cope with PTSD, he remains cooped up in his lab, endlessly building new Iron Man suits for whatever otherworldly adversary may hit him next. All the while, his girlfriend/replacement CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) attempts to manage Tony's money machine, Stark Industries. The latest proposition for the tech conglomerate comes from nerd-turned-playboy Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a man with clear resentment for Tony, who still pitches Pepper his latest creation (if only to woo her with genius). It's called Extremis, a genetic treatment that allows for unprecedented human regeneration. It also causes people to gain superhuman powers... with the potential of internal combustion — but hey, it's still in development.
There's an abidance of plot in Iron Man 3: along with Killian's sneaky schemes, The Mandarin, a bin Laden-like terrorist, is growing in power and detonating bombs in random places across the U.S.. Hoping to put a stop to him is Tony's BFF James Rhodes (Don Cheadle). He's painted his Iron Man armor Red, White and Blue to become Iron Patriot, crusader of the War on Terror. In a surprise to no one, intelligence gathered on The Mandarin continually leads him in the wrong directions. When one Mandarin attack hits too close to home, Tony is shaken out of his comfort zone. He goes on the offense, but his cocky attitude is his downfall. After an attack on his cliffside mansion (a tremendous sequence of architectural dismemberment), Tony is left on his butt in the middle of nowhere, with no one to help him.
Black's clear goal is to keep Tony out of the armor. The Marvel regime forces its movies to stylistically conform, keeping Iron Man 3 as flat and generic across the technical board. So Black innovates on the page as he did during his screenwriting days (he's the man behind Lethal Weapon and The Last Boyscout). Downey, Jr. is firing on all cylinders here, shooting off wisecracks faster than Iron Man's repulser rays and giving Tony something to grapple with. Black connects the character with one of the scariest companion tropes in all of filmmaking: "random helpful kid." It ends up working because Tony never loses his sardonic tone — when his 11-year-old helper reveals that his dad walked out a few years prior, Tony tells him to get over it (using very colorful language). They've got bad guys to fight. Completely rude, completely genuine. Downey, Jr. is one of the few performers who can drop that comedy gold then match it with a stunt-filled set piece.
Downey, Jr. isn't alone. Black has a dream cast for Iron Man 3, helping keep the convoluted plot in check with personality. Pearce has a ball with his diabolical Killian while Kingsley subverts every villain trope in the book. His performance as The Mandarin pulls the rug from under the audiences' feet with cackling glee. It might be Black's way of flipping the bird to die hard comic fans, but depending on your investment, Kingsley dominates the movie.
While Black injects his wry sensibilities into the superhero format, he also plays ball with the necessary evils. There's big action in Iron Man 3 and, unlike the previous two installments, it delivers. A scene in which Iron Man swoops through the sky to catch fallen airplane passengers will make your heart race. Whether it's incredible CG or practical stunts, the airborne wrangling feels all too real. Black has his classic '90s action moments too: if Iron Man 3 didn't have a swing-away-from-an-explosion moment, it wouldn't be a Shane Black movie.
Aside from a few raised eyebrows provoked by the film's logic, Downey, Jr. and Black once again found magic together — and on a scale worthy of summer blockbusters. Iron Man 3 easily tops the first two movies and starts the summer off with a bang and a sly wink to camera.
(And don't forget to stay after the credits — Marvel once again drops a scene that completes the film!)
What do you think? Tell Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches and read more of his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes!
More: Why Making a Part 3 Ain't EasyThe 20 Must-See Movies of Summer 2013Iron Man Already a Hit
From Our Partners:Beyonce Flaunts Bikini Bod for H&M (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
Whether you're currently wrapped in eight layers, praying that you will survive the bitter cold of winter, or you live in a place where it never drops below 60 degrees (screw you!), summer is on the horizon. Helping to remind us of the light at the end of the tunnel are a set of new pics from 2013's biggest blockbuster releases. Nothing warms the soul like a superhero's scowl.
First up is a new still from the little-comic-movie-that-could, The Wolverine. The Hugh Jackman-led action flick is both a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy, a sequel to his spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and a… well, who really knows how it fits into the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, which collides all the mythology — including X-Men: First Class — into one steaming serving of cinematic goulash. It's been a bumpy road for The Wolverine, which clawed its way through pre-production disaster after pre-production disaster to finally come to screens this year. And it looks good! Or, at least, an image like the one below has us pumped for more of Jackman's rough, gruff hero.
RELATED: 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past' Director Bryan Singer Teases Professor Xs, Young And Old — Pic
Next, we have a look at the upcoming Ender's Game, a sci-fi epic that has all the makings of a summer movie… but actually drops in November. Based on the acclaimed novel by Orson Scott Card, the movie stars Asa Butterfield (Hugo) as a wunderkind of intergalactic military strategy, sent to "Battle School" to train as a soldier. For fans of True Grit who wondered what happened to the young, Oscar-nominated star Hailee Steinfeld, she appears alongside Butterfield in Ender's Game, as you can see in the latest still from the film:
RELATED: 'Iron Man 3' Trailer: Tony Stark Is Still Having 'Avengers' Nightmares
Rounding out the bunch, Iron Man 3 continues its character poster binge with a new one-sheet of Guy Pearce as the suspected villain Aldrich Killian. While the folks at Marvel were ready to show off their trilogy-capper at Comic-Con earlier this year — with flashy footage of Robert Downey Jr. zipping around the sky and eventually hitting rock bottom as billionaire inventor Tony Stark — we're still in the dark on the plot of Iron Man 3. Ben Kingsley will appear as the popular villain Mandarin, but where does Pearce's Killian fit into the picture? Judging from this poster, he may play Miami Vicedetective James Crockett. Maybe.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox; Summit Entertainment; Marvel]
From Our Partners:’Warm Bodies’ Nicholas Hoult as Young Han Solo? (Moviefone)Happy 25th, Rihanna: 25 Naked Pics to Celebrate (Vh1)
Warner Bros. has bought the spec script Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery And Eskimo Kisses from writer Matthew Aldrich. Matt Damon is attached to star as a man on the run from the law with his daughter. Who also happens to be his accomplice. But the interesting part is that Damon may make the project his directorial debut. Apparently Damon’s Oscar (which most people tend to forget he and Ben Affleck won for writing Good Will Hunting) was a key selling point since as a writer he would be more likely to stick to Aldrich’s vision. I’m actually all for it. Damon’s a great actor and him with a daughter breaking the law? Super awwwwww. As for him as a director? The dude’s been in the game for a long time and has worked with some of the best filmmaker's of all time in a variety of different genres. I bet he can handle it.