Neighbours launched him, and since then the star of Memento and Zone 414 has seized his Hollywood roles with a unique intensity. He talks about death, drugs, being a dad and divorce

At the start of this century, Guy Pearce was sitting pretty. He had shaken off the frothy soap bubbles of Neighbours, where he was one of the show’s original batch of pin-ups, along with Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, and was proving himself a versatile film actor – first as a sharp-clawed drag artist in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, then as a clench-jawed cop in LA Confidential.

Awaiting release was the existential thriller Memento, directed by a promising up-and-comer named Christopher Nolan. First, though, he heard whispers that Kenneth Turan, the film critic of the LA Times, had been singing his praises in a review of the military courtroom drama Rules of Engagement.

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