In a recently-released Q&A with actor Guy Pearce, who plays Aldrich Killian in the upcoming Iron Man 3 from Marvel Studios, some new information came out about Killian, the role he has to play in the film and the approach that Pearce took to tackling a film where he finds himself immersed in a franchise and surrounded by millions of fans.
"Killian is an interesting character as he’s somebody who came into this world with a number of physical disabilities," Pearce explained of his character. "He’s never been able to accept those limitations though and has spent most of his life trying to overcome them in any way he can. His tenacity and blind determination in fighting for a better life are seen by some as irritating as he often comes across as obnoxious. He just won’t accept the cards he was dealt, and being as intelligent as he is, has real drive to change and become a different person.
"So we find him at the start of the film in a flashback and we see the ambitious, almost annoying, guy that he is. He takes opportunities to try and latch onto people like Tony Stark. So you see this very ambitious character and you see him later on in the film having made a change, and Tony and the other people that have met him early on kind of go, “How did this happen? How did he do this?” But he’s a dangerous character. He wants to become all-powerful. That’s sort of a driving force with him and Tony Stark realizes eventually what this guy is capable of."
He added that the comics were a central--but not the only--part of getting to the bottom of the character.
"When I first started talking to the guys at Marvel, I wanted to get a little history on Killian and sort of see where he fit in the whole scheme of things, so they forwarded a ton of material. But I find on any film that I work on that I can only ever go so far with research, because there comes a point where I need to leap off from that and then get into the movie world. For me, I really just needed to understand Killian in the comic strip world, but then let it go and see what we were going to do," Pearce said. "For me also, it’s about trying to find something new and creative, but at the same time I want to honor the fans of all the Marvel comic strips and Iron Man and the people who may be fans of Killian."
On the question of Marvel's passionate fan base, he added, "I think every time you make a film you’ve got to be a little bit prepared that your world’s going to change on some kind of level. I’m always open to what that brings. Obviously something enormous like Marvel that’s had a really sort of pervasive effect for decades now might make it different. So, it may be a larger change than what I’m ready for, but we’ll see."
It's also interesting that reports have characterized his character as being something of a wedge between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in this film, since that relationship is actually one of the things that drew the actor to the Iron Man franchise to begin with.
"I saw the first Iron Man film when it was released in Australia. The thing that really struck me about it was the chemistry between Robert and Gwyneth," Pearce explained. "I just thought those two together were fantastic. It really worked well. The film had a different look than a lot of other comic strip or superhero movies and I found that it was really engaging. It was very exciting to watch both movies and then become part of the team."
So...how the heck do you go from that to being the guy trying to stand between them? Pearce explains, "When Killian started his organization A.I.M., however many years ago, Pepper was somebody whom he employed to work there. Obviously, from the outset he was very keen on her. She’s smart, she’s attractive, she’s a great girl. But Killian was someone that she was never interested in. When we meet Killian early on in the film, everything about him is unappealing on some kind of level and she always kept him at arm’s length. Then years later when he goes to her to basically look for funding and to get her involved again, she’s completely taken aback by how charming he is and how wonderful he now looks, plus his attitude’s changed. So she is kind of taken by him; she doesn’t quite know what’s happening to her and her reaction to him. And obviously, she and Tony Stark have a relationship, so this causes a little rift between those two. "