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Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3: Under the Armor with Guy Pearce

The actor talks about the mysterious Aldrich Killian and his role in Marvel's 'Iron Man 3,' in theaters May 3!

With so little known about Guy Pearce's role as Aldrich Killian in Marvel's "Iron Man 3," fans have eagerly anticipated what little they can glean from the trailers and photos released so far.

The Emmy-winning actor brings an air of mystery to one of the newest characters to enter Tony Stark's life in the upcoming film, but Pearce himself understands what makes Aldrich Killian tick all too well.

Now, kicking off a series of articles delving deeper into the world of "Iron Man 3," we've got the word on Killian straight from Pearce's mouth. Read on to find out what drives the mysterious character, what it was like working with co-stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow, and much more!

Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian in his very own character poster for "Iron Man 3"

Marvel.com: Talk about the first time you saw Marvel’s “Iron Man.” What was it about the film that you enjoyed?

Guy Pearce: I saw the first “Iron Man” film when it was released in Australia. The thing that really struck me about it was the chemistry between Robert [Downey, Jr.] and Gwyneth [Paltrow]. I just thought those two together were fantastic. It really worked well. The film had a different look than a lot of other comic strip or super hero movies and I found that it was really engaging. It was very exciting to watch both movies and then become part of the team.

Marvel.com: What did you initially think of Robert Downey, Jr.’s take as Tony Stark?

Guy Pearce: I think he handles Tony Stark perfectly. Robert’s everything that you want a leading character to be. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he’s completely and utterly able to take the story seriously enough when it’s necessary. He’s charming, he’s funny, he’s irreverent, and he has sort of an unpredictable quality about him. So you just never quite know what you’re going to get onscreen. And I think he treads a beautiful line with Tony Stark where he honors the character that already existed and he gives you something that’s incredibly entertaining, witty and sharp.

Marvel.com: Although Tony Stark is a genius billionaire, there’s still a way that audiences can relate to him. Do you think that’s the theme for all of these Marvel characters?

Guy Pearce: I do think it is. It is something about the ordinary nature of him. Even though he is a billionaire and he lives the life that he lives, he never lets go of his connection with the ordinary person out there. I think that’s something that an audience member likes. They probably want to be like Tony Stark, but they probably also know that if they came across Tony Stark that he would talk to them.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Guy Pearce star as Pepper Potts and Aldrich Killian in "Iron Man 3"

Marvel.com: Does it help to have such a rich history within the comics to be able to refer back to for your character?

Guy Pearce: When I first started talking to the guys at Marvel, I wanted to get a little history on Killian and sort of see where he fit in the whole scheme of things, so they forwarded a ton of material. But I find on any film I work on that I can only ever go so far with research, because there comes a point where I need to leap off from that and then get into the movie world. For me, I really just needed to understand Killian in the comic world, but then let it go and see what we were going to do.

Also, it’s about trying to find something new and creative, but at the same time I want to honor the fans of all the Marvel comic strips and Iron Man and the people who may be fans of Killian.

Marvel.com: As far as all the fans go, are you prepared for your world to change after this film?

Guy Pearce: I think every time you make a film you’ve got to be a little bit prepared that your world’s going to change on some kind of level. I’m always open to what that brings. Obviously [being involved with] something enormous like Marvel that’s had a really sort of pervasive effect for decades now might make it different. So, it may be a larger change than what I’m ready for, but we’ll see.

Marvel.com: What is Killian’s primary motivation in this film?

Tony Stark's new armor in "Iron Man 3"

Guy Pearce: Killian is an interesting character as he’s somebody who came into this world with a number of physical disabilities. He’s never been able to accept those limitations though and has spent most of his life trying to overcome them in any way he can. His tenacity and blind determination in fighting for a better life are seen by some as irritating, as he often comes across as obnoxious. He just won’t accept the cards he was dealt, and being as intelligent as he is, has real drive to change and become a different person.

So we find him at the start of the film in a flashback and we see the ambitious, almost annoying, guy that he is.  He takes opportunities to try and latch onto people like Tony Stark. So you see this very ambitious character and you see him later on in the film having made a change, and Tony and the other people that have met him early on kind of go, “How did this happen? How did he do this?” But he’s a dangerous character. He wants to become all-powerful. That’s sort of a driving force with him and Tony Stark realizes eventually what this guy is capable of.

Marvel.com: Talk about working with Robert Downey, Jr. What was that dynamic like on set?

Guy Pearce: I never feel like I’m Robert’s intellectual equal by any means, so thankfully the script enabled that. But Robert is brilliant. He has a mind that works at a thousand miles an hour. It’s slightly tricky because he likes to improvise a lot and I like to know my lines, so I was always a little thrown if there was something new in the mix. But at the same time everything he came up with was amazing, there’s no doubt about it. So you can’t deny that if there’s a better idea in front of you, you’ve really got to go with it.

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Tony Stark in "Iron Man 3"

I’ve been a fan of his for years, so it was very exciting to work with him. I always say one of the best things about being an actor is working with better actors. He’s a wonderful talent, but he’s also really inclusive. He’s just very generous in sort of wanting to make sure that what you’re doing is the best you can be doing and he’s not selfish. He’s not caught up in his own thing. He’s really genuine and open. So it was a great experience.

Marvel.com: Describe the love triangle between Killian, Pepper and Tony.

Guy Pearce: When Killian started his organization A.I.M., however many years ago, Pepper was somebody whom he employed to work there. Obviously, from the outset he was very keen on her. She’s smart, she’s attractive, she’s a great girl. But Killian was someone that she was never interested in. When we meet Killian early on in the film, everything about him is unappealing on some kind of level and she always kept him at arm’s length. Then years later when he goes to her to basically look for funding and to get her involved again, she’s completely taken aback by how charming he is and how wonderful he now looks, plus his attitude’s changed. So she is kind of taken by him; she doesn’t quite know what’s happening to her and her reaction to him. And obviously, she and Tony Stark have a relationship, so this causes a little rift between those two.

Marvel.com: Talk about working with Gwyneth. It’s clear you have a great chemistry.

Ben Kingsley stars as the Mandarin in "Iron Man 3"

Guy Pearce: She’s a wonderful actress. I’ve watched her in films for years now and have always thought she was unique. She’s unusual, she’s beautiful, but not common, as far as her way of performing and how she looks. She’s very special. So it was very exciting to get to work with her. She’s a smart girl, so if there were beats that weren’t quite making sense, she was always coming up with great ideas. She’s very open and she’s done this character before. The interesting thing, coming onto a film like this, is that you’re working with guys who have played these characters before, so they’re very familiar with what’s going on. They’re very open in making you feel very comfortable in entering their world.

Marvel.com: How was it working with Shane Black? What does he bring to the franchise?

Guy Pearce: Shane’s a guy’s guy and he’s a smart guy. He and I often had discussions, as I’m sure other actors did with him as well. I often find with lines of dialogue that you get what they’re totally going for, but sometimes they just don’t come out of your mouth particularly well. Another actor might not have the same issue, but I might. So I’m always looking at slightly adjusting the dialogue just to really make it work for me, and Shane was very helpful in that regard as far as coming up with different ideas. He’s a smart guy, he knows where to put the camera, he’s got a great energy about him and he’s easy to get along with.

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Tony Stark/Iron Man in "Iron Man 3"

Marvel.com: You’ve been doing a lot of action sequences. What kind of stunt training did you have to do?

Guy Pearce: I didn’t really do a lot of training. I’m generally pretty fit most of the time anyway and I like to be in control of the stunts that I’m doing. In the fight sequence between Robert and me, we’re sort of leaping off an oil rig out in the sea. There was a lot of leaping off higher platforms onto lower platforms, which is dangerous stuff but there were specialists around making sure we didn’t get injured.

There’s also a lot of wirework where we’re wearing harnesses. I’d done a bit of wirework before on other films but you always need to go and have sort of a refresher course when you start another film.

Marvel.com: What are you most excited to see in the finished film?

Guy Pearce: I think the way Extremis works through people’s bodies. Often the visual effects guys would say, “At this moment, we’re going to see pulsing veins up your neck and we’re going to see that your eyes are going to sort of glow orange.” So, they had a few different ideas about how that was going to go and they were obviously very excited about pushing the envelope and doing things they haven’t done before.

Marvel.com: What kind of ride do you think audiences will get out of this film?

Guy Pearce: Hopefully, an even bigger ride than they got in the first and second Iron Man movies, even though both of them were very exciting. “Iron Man 3” feels like a new and fresh story that people can relate to, and no matter what sort of film you make, you need a story that people can connect to on an emotional level, you need characters that they can connect to, and you need to feel like there’s a sense of reality to it on some kind of level and you need to be entertained.  So all those elements need to be there and I think they are.


Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley, “Iron Man 3” is directed by Shane Black from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black and is based on Marvel’s iconic super hero Iron Man, who first appeared in the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE #39 in 1963 and had his solo comic book debut with THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1 in May of 1968.

“Iron Man 3” is presented by Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures and DMG Entertainment. Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige is producing and Jon Favreau, Louis D'Esposito, Stephen Broussard, Victoria Alonso, Alan Fine, Charles Newirth, Stan Lee and Dan Mintz are executive producers. The film releases May 3, 2013, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

In addition to "Iron Man 3," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Thor: The Dark World" on November 8, 2013; "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" on April 4, 2014; "Guardians of the Galaxy" on August 1, 2014; the untitled "Marvel's The Avengers" sequel on May 1, 2015; and "Ant-Man" on November 6, 2015.

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