Pearce Comfortable With His Career 'Proposition'

Following the success of "L.A. Confidential," there were a few half-hearted attempts at turning Guy Pearce into a Hollywood star, ill-conceived or ill-executed projects like "The Time Machine."

Pearce has learned his lesson.

"It's like I have some sort of X-ray vision or something, because I just can see everyone vibrating on a particular frequency, because they're all scared s***less they're gonna lose their money and I'm like 'Whoa, man, this is too intense, it's too anxiety-provoking,'" says the "Memento" star about his studio system experiences. "Whereas in Australia, they're like, 'OK, we've got $3.50. This is the movie we have to make. How the f*** are we gonna make it work with the $3.50?'"

It's no surprise, then, that Pearce's latest is the down-and-dirty Australian drama "The Proposition." Directed by John Hillcoat, it's an Outback Western set in the 1880s, featuring Pearce as Charlie Burns, an outlaw offered the chance at freedom in exchange for going out into the wilderness and capturing his even more reprehensible brother (Danny Huston). Pearce was lured to "The Proposition" by its script, written by oddball Aussie musician Nick Cave.

"I'm a crappy writer myself, so it's not a dig against writers, but as far as me feeling inspired, you read a Nick Cave script and it's so poetic and so evocative and just so spot-on," explains Pearce, making the comparison to most screenplays that come his way. "He's only got to say three words and you know exactly what he's talking about and you're left with this sort of really open pool of description and a very clear understanding of what it is he wants, whereas other people really try hard with something and you think, 'I can sorta see what you're trying to get at.'"

While "The Proposition" finds Pearce in more of a comfort zone than he found journeying into the past and battling Morlocks, the elements gave this project challenges of its own.

"It's pretty intense countryside, as you could obviously tell," he says. "It's funny, because there's been films made in the desert before and you don't detect the flies as much as you did in this. I think John really sort of honed in on them and focused on them. There were a couple shots of the townspeople with sort of a blanket of flies across their shoulders and they were really there."

He adds, "And of course, the blood we use in the film is usually that sugary, syrupy stuff, so flies flock to it as much as they would flock to normal blood anyway, so they did what they were supposed to do."

Pearce hasn't ruled out starring in a $100 million blockbuster again, but there can be little doubt where his heart lies.

"I'd work on a big studio film if I really, really, really believed in the project and I really believed that there was someone at the helm that could keep it unified, but I think if that wasn't there, I've kind of learned my lesson in that regard," he laughs. "I don't handle that arena very well."

"The Proposition" goes into limited release on Friday, May 5.