When a film franchise is successful, the key is – keep making them! “Pitch Perfect” is a great example of this – the first flick went great guns, and as a result, we’ve had 2 subsequent sequels.
Rather than rehash the same source material, “Pitch Perfect 3” took the Barden Bellas offshore to multiple international locations and also introduced new characters. Guy Burnet’s Theo was one such character, a music producer for DJ Khaled who takes a liking to Beca (Anna Kendrick) and her dulcet tones.
Moviehole had the chance to interview Burnet about the film, working on TV and what’s next! See Katie’s chat with the English actor.
“Pitch Perfect 3” is out April 18th on Digital, DVD and Blu-Ray
KT: Congratulations on the success of “Pitch Perfect 3”. How did the role of Theo come about? Did anything in particular draw you to the role?
Guy Burnet : Journey of how it came to be – I was sent a regular appointment from my agent for an audition to Pitch Perfect 3. I was unfamiliar with the film and only saw posters around. I didn’t know much about singing and didn’t think it was me or the part was right for me. I feel like I was doing it more to appease my agent but ended up loving it!
The casting director Kerry Barden, wonderful man who saw something in me. Later I met with the producers and the director. I remember going into the room and there are these handsome guys lining up before me and I feel like this isn’t me. I said to the director that I don’t feel like I am the role that I am reading on the page but if you want I would love to have some fun and do some improvisation with it and I will give you my interpretation of what I would like to do here. They responded to it, liked it and saw something in me that I didn’t see. And they hired me to my surprise. So this was my journey of getting the role.
I watched the movie after and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t know if it was going to be like “High School Musical” or “Mary Poppins”. But it was really cool and edgy. It catered to a different, nerdy audience. It catered to everyone and I thought this catered to me in a way. I loved it and that’s the story of how I got the role. I was almost going in the room to appease my agents. I didn’t think I stood have a chance or I was the guy. I play dark, dramatic and nuanced characters and thought why would they go to me. I thought they would go to some good-looking English guy. But I watched it only after I got the part.
KT : There’s a lot of big names within the “Pitch Perfect” franchise. How are they all to work with on set?
GB : I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some big names, some people that I admire and the people that I look up to, people who are considered names. I can tell you that all of them have always been so lovely and so generous, so giving.
I really believe that to reach that stage in your career is something that I am learning. You got to be a decent human being, you got to be a generous human being and you got to obviously have talent. All these people along the way have been so lovely to me and that is definitely inclusive of all the girls on the film. Everyone was cool.
Most of my scenes are with Anna Kendrick and she is so smart, bright, clever, cool, lovely, super funny. And was really accepting of me as a new character coming in. So we really enjoyed working together. And Rebel was super cool. Hayley was fantastic. Literally every single girl was so lovely and inclusive of me and welcoming, that it made it kind of a really enjoyable experience from the very first day I was there.
I enjoyed doing the acting work with Anna Kendrick. We managed to figure out a story where it wasn’t just a cliché romance. We both kind of wanted to go down this path of creating something a little more original. That it is all about the work for them but there is still chemistry and energy between two human beings and I loved building that with her. That was really one of my favorite parts of doing that film.
I loved hanging out with Rebel because we didn’t get to do many scenes together but she is a riot. She is so funny, sweet and kind, really cool. Brittany Snow – super fun, Hailee Steinfeld – sweetest girl I’ve come across.
Literally I loved them all. It’s really hard to pick one. I like them all for different kind of reasons. I can’t wait to come across them or have the opportunity to work with any of them again. They were all lovely. Elizabeth Banks was super lovely as well as her husband, really cool people who I would love to hangout with on set as well as off set.
KT : As your character is a music producer, is that something you can relate to in the sense of being passionate about music?
GB : I love music. I am not a singer, I can’t really play, I didn’t grow up in that environment, I just grew up in an environment where we listened to music as fans, with my mates as a teenager in the car driving around London listening to everything from hip hop to garage music to David Bowie to everything, I’m a huge fan of music.
Luckily for the audience and everyone involved I didn’t have to sing in the movie. To be honest I would turn up on set with the girls doing their performances, it was like a live concert at the time. I would watch it and I didn’t know like 50% of the songs, I’ve never heard them in my life. The girls would teach me; through those songs I learnt so much about popular culture. Everything I know is pre 1990s, all my music understanding.
KT : How long did your production process take?
GB : My process is over the top long and extensive. Even if it’s playing a comedy role or playing something more serious. I put in a lot of work and a lot of background history, I create collages of images of the way I see the character which I sent to the director, costume department, makeup department to create a character.
And then I come as well prepared as I can so that when I am doing scenes especially with someone like Anna Kendrick who is very quick, very sharp, very smart that I can keep up with her and when she is challenging me, I challenge her and we go back and forth.
We did a lot of improvisation and to do that you needed to be fully prepared. It took about five weeks of work before we even start shooting – how the guy looks, how the guy talks, preparing everything he says. A lot of it is made up stuff. There is a line it that they used about me being called a turtle. And that was something I told Anna, that my girlfriend told me I look like a turtle. And then I told Anna to call me a turtle, which was then used in the film. So moments like that which come from real life.
KT : How do you unwind at the end of a long day on set?
GB : Sometimes I have a drink. Most of the time I go home and watch something. I’ll have a glass of wine if not then some tea, chamomile. I love soccer or football, I’m crazy for it so I watch that or the boxing.
Boxing and soccer are my two loves so that unwinds and I stop thinking about anything that is happening in the world and I focus purely on the sport and fall asleep. its kind of boring but that’s really what unwinds me. When you sleep well you feel like a different human being. I feel like other people go on social media but for me I just need sleep and my chamomile tea. I’m a big Newcastle United fan. My family is all AS Roma fans.
KT : What was Trish Sie like as a director?
GB : She is so nice and so kind and it was a lot to feel with that film. There is a lot of action, lot of people, lot of dance. I don’t know how she did it. I’ve never seen that before. She came in it, open to collaboration with everyone and its that’s the kind of personality that makes it a pleasure being at work. I hope I get a chance to work with her again. I think she is really special actually. Really lovely.
KT : Any funny stories from being on set?
I have a great one actually! For me it was just another day. I’m coming to work in the morning and I am leaving where my trailer place is and I am walking to where the makeup trailer is set where they have hair and makeup. And I see Rebel at the bottom of her steps of the makeup trailer crying her eyes out, genuinely crying her eyes out and with blood coming down her legs and screaming.
And I run over and couple of people hanging around her saying “oh my god, oh my god” and I say “oh f***, what’s going on?” And she was crying and was like, “I, I fell down the stairs”. And she’s crying “listen you are fine don’t worry” and I’m like shouting out, “get a f***** ambulance here.” She’s like, “Oh no no” and I say, “don’t panic, don’t panic” I am just being precautious. And then I realize one of the people watching me take care of her is a medic from the set and I start shouting at him and I am going, “What the hell are you doing standing there staring, come down here and help her”.
Anyways this goes on for about five minutes, me arguing with him, me trying to calm her down, her crying hysterically. And then they all stop and go like “APRIL FOOLS”. And I was like are you joking? It wasn’t even funny. I was like oh my god. Poor medic, I had a full on shouting match at him like why he was standing there and then I was like apologetic to him.
It was crazy, She’s funny like that, she’s so funny. She pulled that one out of the bag. I couldn’t get over that for a couple of days. She was hysterical, just shows how much of a bloody actress she is, just crying and hysterical and they managed to put fake blood all over her leg. I was panicked, I thought she broke her f****** leg.
KT : As you’ve worked extensively across both film and television productions, how do you feel they differ in the production process?
GB : There is a finer line now between people television as they call it in America which is high end cinematic television. With film, there is a fine line now, they are kind of molding into one.
The main difference is you have more time in film to build a character and more time from scene to scene. And I love that. I like building a character in three acts. And doing it over an hour and half to two hour period. But television is becoming so good now that I love both mediums. They differ but its still the same process, it is still building the character.
It’s just that in television you don’t quite know what’s going to happen to your character in the end. In film you know what you can do and how to build the character. In television, it is still a surprise that you are going along and learning more about who your character is.
KT : What projects have you got next on your agenda?
GB : I have a film coming out in October. It’s a remake of “Jacob’s Ladder”. Called “Jacob’s Ladder” [laughs]. Currently shooting a TV show called “Counterparts” which is on Star Network in America and will be going around the world including Australia.
If I tell you genuinely, I am very honest and open about it. It is the best TV show out there. It is amazing. We are shooting the second season at the moment. If you get a chance to watch the show, it is just magic. And then I am about to go onto something else which I am not allowed to talk about.
KT : What do you consider your career highlight thus far?
GB : Wow. My biggest achievement and my biggest happiness, and I really mean this honestly and genuinely. And it will forever be, there will be nothing greater unless there is an even greater project. My greatest achievement is when I get to see my mother go to a premiere of a film that I have done and watch the movie.
That for me is the whole reason for what I do. And that gives me the most joy. When my mum got to go watch me in Mortdecai with Johnny Depp, that was for her just magic and a dream for her.
Then for her to go to Pitch Perfect and be at the premiere, to watch it through her makes it worthwhile and you remember why you even do this to begin with. She loved Pitch! I’ve done films which aren’t necessarily that good and she still loved it. The only thing she doesn’t like is when I sometimes play the very dark characters. I played a psychopath on two occasions. I can tell she really feels uncomfortable with me playing the darker roles.
So Pitch Perfect for her was a dream. She was in heaven as I wasn’t playing a psycho. Well not a psycho like others!
She calls up all of her family all over the world. She tells everyone. She goes and walks down on the neighborhood street where I grew up and the people I went to school with. She goes and tells the lady from the corner shop where she buys her magazines in the morning. We all get caught up in it and then you see that kind of organic enjoyment of it and I think that’s why it’s enjoyable to do what I do. It’s really that the audiences have a good time and that my mum can enjoy it too. That’s what truly, 100% makes it more enjoyable for me.
KT : Final message to Australian fans?
GB : I’ve never done an interview for Australia ever! My dream is to come to Australia. All my best friends are Australian and I adore that country and I hope to come down there one day to say hello. I’m going to get Rebel back someday. I got to get Down Under. Thanks so much.