The Australian actor tells us about his latest role as Marvel comic baddie, Killian, and what it's like joining a hit comic franchise

Words By Topman

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Marvel’s Iron Man 3 sees the superhero pitted against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark, the rich philanthropist/superhero Iron Man, for the hit comic book franchise, alongside an all star cast - including Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle and mega villian, Guy Pearce.

Directed by Shane Black, fans can expect impressive special effects, fighting sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the prophetic question that has secretly been haunting Iron Man: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man? Here, Iron Man 3 baddie, Killian aka Guy Pearce, talks about joining the franchise and channeling his evil side...

Topman Generation: From watching the previous Iron Man films, what was it about the franchise that you enjoyed?
Guy Pearce: I saw the first Iron Man film when it was released in Australia. The thing that really struck me about it was the chemistry between Robert (Downey JR) and Gwyneth (Paltrow). I just thought those two together were fantastic. It really worked well. The film had a different look than a lot of other comic strip or superhero movies and I found that it was really engaging. It was very exciting to watch both movies and then become part of the team.

Topman Generation: What was it like working with Robert Downey Jr. What was that dynamic like on set?
Guy Pearce: Robert is brilliant. I’ve been a fan of his for years, so it was very exciting to work with him. He has a mind that works at a thousand miles an hour. It’s slightly tricky because he likes to improvise a lot and I like to know my lines, so I was always a little thrown if there was something new in the mix. But at the same time everything he came up with was amazing, there’s no doubt about it. So you can’t deny that if there’s a better idea in front of you, you’ve really got to go with it.

 
For me also, it’s about trying to find something new and creative, but at the same time I want to honor the fans of all the Marvel comic strips and Iron Man and the people who may be fans of Killian

 

Topman Generation: What did you initially think of Robert Downey Jr.’s take as Tony Stark?
Guy Pearce:
I think he handles Tony Stark perfectly. Robert’s everything that you want a leading character to be. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he’s completely and utterly able to take the story seriously enough when it’s necessary. I think he treads a beautiful line with Tony Stark where he honors the character that already existed and he gives you something that’s incredibly entertaining, witty and sharp.

Topman Generation: Does it help to have such a rich history within the comics to be able to refer back to for your character?
Guy Pearce:
For me also, it’s about trying to find something new and creative, but at the same time I want to honor the fans of all the Marvel comic strips and Iron Man and the people who may be fans of Killian. When I first started talking to the guys at Marvel, I wanted to get a little history on Killian and sort of see where he fit in the whole scheme of things.  I really just needed to understand Killian in the comic strip world, but then let it go and see what we were going to do.

Topman Generation: What is Killian’s primary motivation in this film?
Guy Pearce: Killian is an interesting character as he’s somebody who came into this world with a number of physical disabilities. He’s never been able to accept those limitations though and has spent most of his life trying to overcome them in any way he can. So you see this very ambitious character and later on in the film having made a change, Tony and the other people that have met him early on kind of go, “How did this happen? How did he do this?” But he’s a dangerous character. He wants to become all-powerful.

Topman Generation: What about the love triangle between Killian, Pepper and Tony?
Guy Pearce: When we meet Killian early on in the film, everything about him is unappealing on some kind of level and she always kept him at arm’s length. Then years later when he goes to her to basically look for funding and to get her involved again, she’s completely taken aback by how charming he is and how wonderful he now looks, plus his attitude’s changed. So she is kind of taken by him; she doesn’t quite know what’s happening to her and her reaction to him. And obviously, she and Tony Stark have a relationship, so this causes a little rift between those two.

 
 Iron Man 3 feels like a new and fresh story that people can relate to.

 

Topman Generation: What was it like working with Gwyneth. It’s clear you have a great chemistry.
Guy Pearce:
She’s a wonderful actress. I’ve watched her in films for years now and have always thought she was unique. So it was very exciting to get to work with her. She’s a smart girl, so if there were beats that weren't quite making sense, she was always coming up with great ideas. She’s very open and she’s done this character before. The interesting thing, coming onto a film like this, is that you’re working with guys who have played these characters before, so they’re very familiar with what’s going on. They’re very open in making you feel very comfortable in entering their world.

Topman Generation: You’ve been doing a lot of action sequences. What kind of stunt training did you have to do?
Guy Pearce:
I didn’t really do a lot of training. I’m generally pretty fit most of the time anyway and I like to be in control of the stunts that I’m doing. In the fight sequence between Robert [Downey Jr.] and me, we’re sort of leaping off an oil rig out in the sea. There was a lot of leaping off higher platforms onto lower platforms, which is dangerous stuff but there were specialists around making sure we didn’t get injured!

Topman Generation: What kind of ride do you think audiences will get out of this film?
Guy Pearce: Hopefully, an even bigger ride than they got in the first and second Iron Man movies, even though both of them were very exciting. Iron Man 3 feels like a new and fresh story that people can relate to. No matter what sort of film you make, you need characters that they can connect to, and you need to feel like there’s a sense of reality to it on some kind of level and you need to be entertained.  All those elements need to be there and I think they are.

 Iron Man 3 is released nationwide 25 April.