43 year-old Australian actor Guy Pearce has definitely had harder work than this. On the set of sprawling five part mini-series “Mildred Pierce,” Pearce’s role was a pivotal one, but not nearly as demanding as that of his co-star Kate Winslet, who appears in every scene of the 1930s drama based on James M. Cain’s 1941 novel of the same name.
In the film Pearce plays the titular character’s love interest, a well-bred society man whose moneyed upbringing bears a striking contrast to Mildred Pierce’s tough climb to the top as a restaurateur. The contrast figured in well to Pearce and Winslet’s relationship on the set.
“I’d turn up on the set for my casual three days a week and go, ‘hey how’s it going?’” Pearce says, before going into a comical impression of Winslet collapsing into a chair. “And she’s like ‘ugh, you know, it’s good. It’s pretty good. I’ve just had a massive scene where I’ve just had 47 lines and I’m now learning this for the next scene.’
And I’m like, ‘right, well, good luck then.’ I swan in and have a glass of wine as the character, casually lounge on a chair and Mildred’s running in going, ‘Monty! C’mon! Surely you can do such and such.’ And it was really indicative of how we were both feeling about the experience.”
Overworked as she was, Winslet had one advantage over Pearce, who doesn’t have quite the same amount of experience being nude on-screen as she does.
“The difficult thing about being nude is being nude and the great thing about being nude is other people who are cool about it,” Pearce says. “I thought, well I’ve seen Kate be nude in pretty much every film she’s ever done so she’s obviously going to be fine about it. But she’s not flippant about it. It’s awkward no matter how you place it, so to speak. It’s like you’re playing a game of Twister in the nude and you’ve got people who are moving you about. You just try and laugh about it while you’re doing it.”