Following "Memento," Pearce leapt into a spate of projects, including 2002's big-budget, critically reviled adaptation of "The Time Machine." He lost some of the confidence he had previously found and went through a period in which he considered quitting the profession altogether.
"It was a bit of a breakdown, actually, and I was smoking a lot of pot leading up to that time as well, and that clearly didn't help at all," he says. "I'd just been taking opportunity after opportunity after opportunity. I didn't have my own direction going on. So it was really about decompressing, and I was seeing . . . a therapist, and I just needed to take stock."
Fortified by a new selectivity, Pearce has spent the last half a dozen years delivering a series of understated performances in films such as 2005's fratricidal drama "The Proposition" and 2006's Andy Warhol film "Factory Girl." His upcoming lineup includes November's post-apocalyptic Cormac McCarthy adaptation, "The Road," December's Adam Sandler comedy, "Bedtime Stories," and the Australian true-crime saga "In Her Skin."
Although Pearce may have the ability to disappear into each of these roles, that doesn't mean that some strangers don't stop him on the street.
His role in "Traitor" has already led to a few interesting encounters with the public -- although this has more to do with Pearce's preoccupation with the film's religious content than it does with his celebrity. "I've got a T-shirt that says, 'Jesus saves,' and the 's' in 'Jesus' is a big dollar sign," he says. "I've worn it here [in America] and had people come up on the street and go, 'You can't wear that.' People in Australia think it's funny. I'm fascinated by religion. I don't believe in God, but the thing I do believe in is that we're all connected. And I guess that's what other people might call God. I don't know enough about religion to really say, but on some level, doesn't everyone just believe in a different version of the same thing?"