Animal Kingdom: David Michod’s Film, Starring Guy Pearce

Guy Pearce plays Nathan Leckie in “Animal Kingdom,” the new Australian drama written and directed by David Michôd. 

Guy Pearce says, “this film has a very particular style to it–it’s about the potential energy rather than the kinetic, it’s what’s sitting there under the surface that really allows the audience to go ‘wow, what would this be like if I was in that situation? It’s really fascinating.’” 

Different character

“One thing that differentiates Leckie from almost all of the other male characters in the story,” said Michôd, “is that he’s able to step away from his job and enjoy a comfortable family life. He therefore offers J a glimpse of what a safer and calmer place the world might be. I had long conversations with Guy about what kind of a man Leckie was, because on one level I didn’t want his persona to be entirely visible. So many senior detectives actually come from worlds not too dissimilar from those inhabited by the people that they’re pursuing. They’ve developed a uniform for themselves. They wear a suit like a disguise and have a language that is almost like a robotic, monotone, cop speak, which is a deliberate way of not revealing your emotional inner life to people who may use that life against you. So I was ecstatic when Guy agreed to take the part, as I needed an actor who could portray that emotional blankness, but would still be compelling.” 

“In some ways,” continued Michôd, “J’s story arc is about a kid who’s looking for a place where he belongs. He never felt that he belonged with his mother and then he lands in this house full of damaged people. While he’s trying to determine whether he belongs there, he meets Baz, who offers a feel of perhaps a better life outside of the Codys. But before he can accept, circumstances change and the opportunity is lost. And then there’s the family of his girlfriend, Nicky, who are warm and loving. But we’re aware, very quickly, that her home is not available to him in any permanent sense. So he’s a kid who’s always trying to determine where he belongs. Then Leckie comes along and it takes J, scarred by everything he’s experienced, a while to realize that maybe there’s something in Leckie that is genuine. I never wanted Leckie to be a father figure, but rather to represent there might be somewhere where J could be safe and comfortable. But eventually J realizes that he needs to be the one who decides where he belongs, instead of relying on other people to do so for him.” 

Kid in the middle of chaos

Says Pearce, “What’s interesting about the story of ANIMAL KINGDOM, is that you’re looking through the eyes of a kid in this very dramatic and dangerous and violent world, and there right in the middle is this kid! Leckie knows that he has to be able to form a bond, a trust with the kid, in order to get through to the family, and to really nail what he wants to do. So it’s a curious mix of emotion here for my character in a way – to use the kid, but also to genuinely feel for him”.