Exclusive: Guy Pearce Talks Memento 20th Anniversary!
It’s weird to think that 20 years have passed since Christopher Nolan’s mind-blowing crime thriller Memento hit the big screen. Even now, it remains a fascinating thriller thanks to its unique style — the story begins at the end and works backwards — strong cast, consisting of Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano, and Nolan’s exceptional screenplay, which he based on a short story written by his brother Jonathon. In fact, the script is ultimately what drew Pearce, a well renowned actor at the time thanks to his performances in films such as The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and L.A. Confidential, among others, to roll the dice on the largely (at the time) unknown young director.
“It was just a brilliant script,” Pearce explained in an exclusive interview with ComingSoon.net promoting his upcoming thriller The Seventh Day. “I mean, that script, it’s the only film I’ve done where the finished film is exactly like the script. Every film that you do, twenty percent of what you shot either doesn’t end up in the movie or it ends up in a different order or ends up sort of adjusted or changed or whatever, whereas [Memento] is exactly the script that he wrote. I read that script and just immediately could have started shooting it the next day. It was evocative. I got it completely — even in the quagmire of forwards, backwards, what’s actually happening here.”
Pearce went on to discuss Leonard and what drew him to this fascinating individual.
“I got the psychological drama for that character,” he said. “I got it, you know, because [Nolan’s] writing was so beautiful. I just went, ‘Wow, I can see this!’ Whether or not I knew that Chris Nolan was going to go on to become Chris Nolan — I don’t think so necessarily. You don’t think about that. But there was no question that he was somebody that was a force to be reckoned with. And I also looked at his film, Following, that he’d made beforehand that he shot himself. And you look at that and go, ‘Wow, this guy is just just fantastic,’ you know, the way in which he observes things and people is just so evocative and really touching. So there was this no question that I wanted to work with him. And it wasn’t even a matter of rolling the dice, per se. It was like, please let me be in your movie.”
Memento was released in the U.S. on March 16, 2001. The film found near universal acclaim from critics (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and helped launch Christopher Nolan’s distinguished career that led to blockbusters Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, Dunkirk and last year’s Tenet.
For Pearce, Memento paved the way for roles in films such as The Count of Monte Cristo, The Proposition, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech, Prometheus and Iron Man 3. His most recent venture, The Seventh Day, in which Pearce stars as a renowned exorcist battling demons alongside a rookie priest, releases in theaters and on demand Friday, March 26.