Guy Pearce is really good at playing assholes. He can do the nice guy thing or the conflicted hero as well, but I love me some Pearce in a-hole mode. Earlier this year in the fantastic Mildred Pierce, he got to play one of the most charming emasculated men in recent screen history. In The King’s Speech, he was a snotty old brother all about having a good ‘ol time.

So what does the smooth talker from Mildred Pierce and the jerk brother from The King’s Speech have in common? Humility. Pearce is not one to let a human character be a monster for no understandable reason. He’s also not interested in having pure distaste for the character’s skin he’s inhabiting.

In the (finally) upcoming Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, he’s filling the shoes of the neglectful father. While Pearce doesn’t view him as an asshole, that’s the word that kept popping up in my head when the personable actor was describing him.

Here’s what the actor had to say about playing un-nice guys, the Memento Effect, his banter with Nicolas Winding Refn, trusting directors, and working with hard-boiled dialog:

Quick Notes: I made a remark at the beginning about Ridley Scott because I was discussing the great Prometheus footage. And, yes, I do say “yeah” and go “mmhmm” a lot. And now, enjoy:

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark opens in theaters on August 26th.

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