Guy Pearce on life, fate and ‘First Snow’

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Take note: Guy Pearce is deep. “I guess I am,” Pearce admits, “because the films I’m drawn to are representative of what I’m interested in and the writers who write characters that are either going through a particular turmoil or have questions about what they are experiencing.”

“First Snow,” which opens Friday, is one of those movies.

Pearce shines in this curiously hypnotic odyssey, which marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Mark Fergus (“Children of Men”). In the film, Pearce plays a slippery big-fish-in-a-small-town salesman, Jimmy, who tries to thwart fate after he’s spooked by a desert fortune teller (J.K. Simmons).

The sage’s chilly forecast? Jimmy is running on empty — he’s got until the “first snow” and then …

“It’s something that I think about,” Pearce says of the movie’s theme, “which is how much of life is fate or much of it is controlled outside of ourselves? What’s out there? Will we ever find answer? You know, all that stuff that I think we sort of forget about.”

Jimmy becomes increasingly more paranoid about his future as the plot unravels. Fergus, who also co-wrote the screenplay, creates a solid psychological thriller that effectively captures the quirky dismantling of one man and also manages to provoke thought along the way.

“To me, we’re such fragile creatures,” Pearce says. “I think that the script was so representative of how we can get off the road so easily, or how we’re already off the road and don’t realize it.”

Pearce’s own Hollywood travels have been void of any major creative potholes. True, some still roll their eyes at the mention of 2002’s ill-fated redux, “The Time Machine,” but most have applauded Pearce for his intensity in brain-twisting roles such as”Memento.”

That most people take life for granted is a belief that influences Pearce’s choices in roles. He says, “Life, really, is pretty strange; that we’re here every day walking around, talking to one another, and trying to function and operate with each other. When you think about it, it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s really bizarre.’”

Even stranger, although refreshing, is how well Pearce inhabits the befuddled creatures he plays. He’s generated good buzz by choosing edgier material that forces audiences to question reality.

He also says he thinks acting can be a ground experience, because it “also teaches you that we really can take control of our lives — to an extent — and our emotional states.

“It’s hard to convince me that you have to be a victim to your emotions all the way through your life when my job involves creating, cultivating and controlling emotions. That’s not to say that I want to become sort of cold and heartless about stuff,” Pearce adds, “because I really love the idea of a real surge in emotions, but acting is an interesting experience as far as feeling you can sort of guide the direction that your life is taking.”

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