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[Cannes Interview] ‘Lawless’ Stars Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce Talk Gangsters and Directors

Written by on May 24, 2012 

Stepping into a packed room of journalists all waiting to ask each of them a question or two about their new film Lawless, Tom Hardy and Guy Pearce came prepared. When one journalist tried to sneak in that ever-aching The Dark Knight Rises angle, Hardy dismissed it like an old pro: “You can’t have that question. Next question, because it’s Batman. Come on, it’s just wasting our time. Next question.”

And so it goes. Pearce went on to discuss what he took from gangster pictures past as inspiration. A short discussion, I’ll have you: “I just relied on the script, the personality that becomes evident in the script, so I find it a very difficult thing to explain, the crystallizing of a character, but it comes about through some version of what’s there on the page and some version of what’s in my head, and what is then created that I wouldn’t have necessarily been able to think of myself.”

Pearce admitted that he stayed away from the source material, Matt Bondurant‘s The Wettest County in the World, instead relying of stills from the Prohibition Era to aid his character’s look and feel, which is a performance on to its own.

As for the various accents that are thrown around in the period piece, Hardy explained that, for him, the authenticity of the vocal tones mean very little to him: “…I couldn’t tell you whether my accent [in the film] is genuine or authentic, nor do I really give a shit. What I care about is whether the character is [relatable]. Whether you identify with him, whether you like him, whether he can get away with doing some heinous stuff and still you feel for him.”

The duo went on to discuss their relationships with certain filmmakers (this is Pearce’s third film with Lawless director John Hillcoat, while Hardy’s got a couple with Chris Nolan under his belt) and how that relationship comes about and is sustained. “I think there’s an innate respect, like with his chap and whoever else, so it’s rare, special people who come into your life, but you know straightaway,” Pearce said. Hardy had a more blunt take on the subject: “It’s family. When it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it, right?.” As for those you work with in which that relationship doesn’t develop: “We call it chaff. Riff-raff.”

The two then begin an aside, recalling their days in the make-up trailer, playing Angry Birds and the like, describing how the violence and heavy themes in the film made the downtime more fun, more relieving and enjoyable.

Commented Pearce: “I’ve worked on things that seemed relatively simple story-wise, and you have a horrible time. And, not because it’s a simple story, but if the dynamic and the connection between people isn’t natural and isn’t kind of honest and trusted, it’s a pain in the ass. And suddenly, you’re dragging your feet through the mud.”

And finally, Hardy opened about being wary of getting too proud of any performance or moment in any film:

“I think it was watching last night [at the premiere], to be honest, when we got to Cannes, and we were standing [before the film started] and the camera ran along all of our faces…and then, when I saw the camera get to John’s face, and I saw him well-up, I saw the relief and the release of something in my friend that I realized how big a moment this is for me. I suppose it’s taken twelve years [to get here], and to not be the guy who’s like ‘*GASP* I’m at Cannes?’ To be the guy at Cannes who’s like, ‘I’m at fucking Cannes.’ And this was a really amazing experience. My mom is here, my dad is here, I’m sober, I will remember it in the morning, I’m not going to hit anybody, you know. I’m alive! And, these people are considerably fucking talented people, and this is a very small world. I have allowed myself to pride, and quickly fucking put it away because I’ll go, ‘THAT’S MINE!’ Fucking dispatch me to the blackness, and go, ‘you have the wrong Tom Hardy!’”

Lawless opens on August 29th, 2012.

Follow our complete Cannes 2012 Film Festival coverage.

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