Guy Pearce on ‘Mare of Easttown’ Suspicions & Richard’s Connection With Mare

Mare of Easttown Guy Pearce Kate Winslet
Q&A
HBO

Mare of Easttown sets up a riveting murder mystery in its opening episode, making way for extra drama in titular detective Mare Sheehan’s (Kate Winslet) life.

One seemingly bright spot amid her ugly reality is Richard Ryan (Guy Pearce), a new-to-town professor and writer, and Mare catches his eye. “He doesn’t want to waste an opportunity,” Pearce says. “He sees somebody who he finds intriguing and attractive, and wants to let her know that she means something to him, even though they’ve just met.”

But in a drama where everyone comes across as suspicious, it’s tough for anyone to let their guard down, but can Mare let hers down with Richard? “I think it’s snapped her out of the world that she’s become consumed by, and enables her, even if she’s reluctant to see that, maybe, there are some cracks that need to be opened up that love can be let in.”

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Below, Pearce opens up about his character’s connection with Winslet’s Mare (the actors previously appeared together in HBO’s 2011 miniseries Mildred Pierce), what their connection could mean long-term, and whether or not viewers should be leery about Richard.

When Mare first meets Richard, she’s a little resistant to him. Is that because of his outsider status or is she trying to avoid bringing someone new into her complicated life?

Guy Pearce: I think it’s a bit of everything. I think she doesn’t want to bring anyone in. She’s completely exhausted, she’s consumed by her work, she’s consumed by her family, she’s consumed by the town. If it was another guy, [he] might go, “Oh, you’re too hard and I’ll go off and sleep with this woman instead.” But, Richard’s just interested in her. That’s all there is to it. He’s not interested in just finding a woman for the sake of it. He’s just interested in her. I think she feels the same way, in that, if she’s going to be with somebody, it has to be meaningful. And, it’s going to take some work for her to extricate herself from the life that she’s locked herself into.

So, I think she’s resistant for a number of reasons, and he’s fairly persistent. He thinks he’s kind of funny [and] charming. And, he sort of is. But, that’s also not really what’s at the heart of their connection. I think she sees that he’s a man who’s lived, and he’s a bit broken. They’re sort of just finding each other, bit by bit, and there’s enough attraction to sort of just move baby steps forward.

mare of easttown guy pearce

(Credit: HBO)

It’s just one of those strange, magical things, where two people seem to meet each other, at the right time, and the right place. Even though it’s tough, and they’re both not 25, they’ve lived lives, but they deep down know that they probably want to find love, and maybe it’s in each other that they’ll find it.

Do you think they’re kindred spirits in a way? As a writer, Richard’s well-known in his field, just as Mare is in Easttown. Is that something that bonds them?

Maybe, because that sort of stuff’s a little bit vacuous, fame and recognition, it’s a bit thin on the ground and a bit short-lived. He’s experienced that, and he’s had relationships that haven’t really led to anything. She doesn’t get anything out of people saying, “Hey, you threw that wonderful basketball shot, cool.” So, I think for anyone who experiences a bit of fame, it just makes them realize that they want to dig deeper and have more grounded connections.

[Mare] looks at his book. She’s quite cynical about it. I think he likes the fact that she’s cynical about it, as opposed to some 25-year-old, who’s going to go, “Oh my God, you wrote a book, you’re fantastic, oh my God, let’s sleep together.”

guy pearce kate winslet mare of easttown

(Credit: HBO)

Yes, that doesn’t sound very fulfilling.

Yeah, that’s right. And, the reality is, he hasn’t written anything good since. So, what does having written that book really mean anyway? It was a bit of a shot in the dark, a sort of a flash in the pan, a bit of a one-hit wonder. So, maybe he needs to put that aside, and identify himself in a different sort of way.

I’m fascinated by fame… by what it does to people, and how it can send people [one way or another]. Whether it’s in a big town or small town, fame is fame. It’s just a weird imbalance. So, it was kind of nice to play somebody who had a bit of it. And, what was interesting from Craig [Zobel]’s point of view was, let’s not make this guy miserable about the fact that he’s just written one book, and make him be sort of accepting of it. There’s something unusual about that.

This show has a wide-ranging suspicion scale. Where do you think Richard would fall on that scale?

Do you mean as far as whether he looks suspicious?

Well, do people need to be suspicious of him? Is he somebody that we need to keep a close eye on, or is he someone that we should just be willing to trust?

It’s hard for me to give you your truthful answer because I know the truth of it. So, I can’t really give you a truthful answer, without it being something one-worded. But, I think it’s worthy in a show to be suspicious. I mean, you think back to sort of Twin Peaks and who killed Laura Palmer, and by the end of the series, everyone could have possibly, so you’ve also got to find the right balance, where you don’t just think everybody is possibly guilty, because that can just wear thin.

Mare of Easttown, Sundays, 10/9c, HBO