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Guy Pearce, We Are Pleased To Find You Looking Vaguely Disreputable In 'Jack Irish'

Dear Guy Pearce: The <em>Jack Irish </em>stubble is working, though we're not feeling the giant butterfly art. We assume it's in a hoodlum's house, not Jack's, but we'll be watching this weekend just to confirm.
Lachlan Moore
Acorn TV
Dear Guy Pearce: The Jack Irish stubble is working, though we're not feeling the giant butterfly art. We assume it's in a hoodlum's house, not Jack's, but we'll be watching this weekend just to confirm.

With Linda still out at the TCA gathering, TV is much on our minds. And as she noted yesterday, there's a whole big conversation going on about the newer modes of consuming what we still, for lack of a better word, generally call television.

(Actually, we probably don't need a better word, as "television" just means "far-sight" and doesn't have anything to do with broadcast or spectrum or modes of transmission or the technology involved, BUT I DIGRESS.)

One current case in point: Jack Irish, an Australian series based on the novels by Peter Temple, starring Guy Pearce. It's been aired by traditional broadcast in Oz, but here in the U.S. it's being offered digitally by Acorn TV, either as a Netflix-style stream on its website or via Roku and such. (For older-school types who'd still like to binge-watch it, it'll be out on DVD and Blu-ray in October.)

The series gets underway with a flashback in which an aggrieved former client visits Jack — a successful criminal attorney in Melbourne — to vent his unhappiness about the outcome of a case. It's an office confrontation of the sort that many shows would (and do) play for black comedy, but for Jack, it's a brutal life-changer. Once the opening credits have rolled, he's chucked his practice and is earning a living as a debt collector, and not in the nicer neighborhoods.

Pearce joins NPR's Linda Wertheimer on this Saturday's Weekend Editionto talk about the series, the Fitzroy district that gives the series its setting, and what the actor has in common with his character .Among the things we learn:

* Jack may have hit the bottom of the bottle he fell into after that office incident — or he may not have. He's "kind of coming out of that haze, and really trying to get his life back together, but he's obviously still quite wobbly, shall we say. He still drinks, but really knows it's time for him to sort himself out."

* The role of the series' Greek chorus is taken by a trio of veteran character actors with "a combined age of 240," who play a gang of bar regulars Jack likes to call the Fitzroy Youth Club. They hang at the local and watch Australian football, rooting for the Fitzroy team — which, and here's the thing, folded as a pro operation some years ago. So they're watching videotapes. "They still live it as if it exists," Pearce says. Oh, and Jack's dad used to play for the team, so he's their pet.

* Like Jack, Pearce lost his dad, a test pilot, when he was young. He tells Wertheimer that one way he found his way into the character was thinking about how, "throughout your life ... you keep projecting father-figuredom onto various men that come into your life. And sometimes that's a good choice, and sometimes that's a bad choice."

When you listen to the whole conversation, which you should do for The Guy Pearce Accent alone, you'll hear more about which Jack Irish character turns out to be a solid influence, how the hero uses a hands-on hobby to decompress, and what makes the series "quintessentially Australian." Just hit the play button above.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Trey Graham edits and produces arts and entertainment content for NPR's Digital Media division, where among other things he's helped launch the Monkey See pop-culture blog and NPR's expanded Web-only movies coverage. He also helps manage the Web presence for Fresh Air from WHYY.