THE INFERNAL MACHINE Interview: Guy Pearce Breaks Down His Intense, Challenging Performance (Exclusive)

The Infernal Machine star Guy Pearce talks to us about his intense role in the new action-thriller, revealing how he approached the project, what it was like to see it come to life around him, and more...

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The Infernal Machine is a psychological thriller of obsession and deceit, and follows Bruce Cogburn (Guy Pearce), a reclusive and controversial author of the famed book "The Infernal Machine" who is drawn out of hiding when he begins to receive endless letters from an obsessive fan.

What ensues is a dangerous labyrinth as Bruce searches for the person behind the cryptic messages...forcing him to confront his past and ultimately revealing the truth behind The Infernal Machine. The movie also stars Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness), Jeremy Davies (The Black Phone), and Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike), and makes for edge-of-your-seat viewing. 

Last week, we spoke with Pearce over email to learn more about his standout role in The Infernal Machine. Explaining whether he could relate to Bruce's journey, the Iron Man 3 star takes us through his approach to playing this character and breaks down some of his most challenging and memorable days on set. 

This is a performance that demands a lot from the actor and he knocks it out of the park. During this conversation, we get some fascinating insights into his acting process and even hear from Pearce on whether he could return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Aldrich Killian!

Check out our full interview with The Infernal Machine star below:


Much of the film deals with Bruce having to live with the consequences of putting a piece of art out into the world that was used in a terrible way he never could have expected. As an actor, was that fear something you could relate to given how modern audiences do gravitate towards the characters they see in films and often imitate them?

Not really to be honest. I can appreciate the question but I feel if anyone did take work I’d done to use in a terrible way it would feel to me their actions would be their responsibility, not mine. I do understand the effect we have as actors and the responsibilities we hold in the work we choose but I feel I utilize some kind of ethical and moral compass when I choose my work anyway, so as long as there’s a legitimate reason for me to do the work I choose others’ reactions to it and actions because of it are their own doing.

You spend a lot of time in The Infernal Machine in that phone booth, alone, and just talking. What were those days like on set for you and, given the specific nature of this story, did you have room to improvise or bring any of your own ideas to the table?

I never wanted to improvise. I generally feel there’s an overrated mystique attached to that as a technique, personally...probably because I’m no good at it. I always prefer to have a well-honed script at hand. I might’ve talked through certain sections of dialogue and adjusted things, but that would’ve been way before we shot. I actually loved those scenes. Quite intimate and very telling!

When you do share the screen with Alex, Alice, and Jeremy, the intensity levels of those exchanges between your characters are often through the roof. How did you prepare for those moments and did you get a lot of rehearsal time on the project?

I always find it hard to say how I prepare. It’s just a matter of going through the script many times till it all starts to bed down and feel right. Knowing my lines is vital. It then allows room for nuanced reactions. It is hard to keep the energy up sometimes in intense scenes, but it’s also really inspiring and motivating having a great script, and of course, great actors like those three to work off. All of them were just fantastic and so we always really bounce off each other. It’s the best part of being an actor - ‘doing the dance’ with someone else, especially if they’re great. 


I thought Bruce’s accent was a really great choice for this film as it makes him feel even more like a fish out of water in his surroundings. What was the thought process behind that for you and Andrew Hunt, though, and was it something that required a lot of work on your part?

Andrew had always written the character to be from Sheffield. I think for the reason you reference - being a real fish out of water. Alex’s character Dwight Tufford in the prison scene raises it with Bruce but it got cut from the final edit. I still can’t tell if that matters or not. I hope it just doesn’t seem like a nonsensical choice that I’ve made. I have family in the UK from a similar part and so it was quite a familiar accent for me. It wasn’t too hard to find.

You’ve seen a fair bit of action in your career, but Bruce is no expert fighter, so what were some of the biggest challenges you faced portraying him in those moments of physicality?

The main challenge I find in any moment for a character is just that, staying in character. Being believable. I love finding the different ways characters are able and unable to function, ie - physical prowess versus clumsiness for example. 

The Infernal Machine is a movie that kept me guessing right until the very end. What do you enjoy most about telling a story like this and how gratifying is it for an intricate scene like the one with Alice in the restaurant to come alive around you after reading the script?

It’s just the best. I responded really well to the script. It was beautifully written and very exciting to read. Honoring that script was of course the real task and challenge, and yet it was exciting because it was a unique narrative filled with great ideas. I love a story that takes you to unpredictable places. I love the challenge of trying to make that work. It is always hard to know though how much an audience will be able to guess what’s coming. So it’s then in the edit that the director writes his final draft.

Since we last spoke, Marvel Studios has announced a number of Iron Man-related projects like Ironheart and Armor Wars, and fans remain keen to see more from Aldrich Killian. Is there anything left with that character you’d still like to explore given how much the MCU has expanded and evolved since 2013?

Absolutely! I’m not sure what though. I don’t know enough about the MCU but I feel there are endless possibilities, especially for a character like Aldrich Killian. Firstly, I’d have to come back from the dead, so all bets are off really with that as a starting place...

Thanks so much for your time, Guy. I had a great time with this film.

Thank you, Josh. I really appreciate it!

Paramount Movies' The Infernal Machine is now playing in select theaters and available on Digital platforms. 

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