César Pelli: “One aspires for the sky”
Mr. Pelli, as the architect of some of the world’s tallest buildings, why do you think humans are so fascinated with reaching for the sky?
People get very excited about very high elements, that’s why Mount Everest is so important — it’s not the most difficult mountain, but it’s the most famous because it’s the tallest. For the Chinese, for example, tall mountains are considered pathways to the sky; they connect heaven with earth. I learned this in a lecture given by a Chinese architect at the Metropolitan Museum on sacred mountains in China. I asked him, “Would a skyscraper qualify as sacred mountain?” And he said, “Yes, if it’s noble and tall.” I appreciated that: there are tall things that are noble, and there are tall shapes that are not noble. And that’s what my interest is, I want to capture the nobility of the tall buildings so that they can share in being sacred elements.
You grew up in Tucuman, Argentina, on the slopes of the Aconquija mountains — perhaps that’s where your interest in reaching the sky comes from.
Maybe. Tucuman is about eight kilometers away from that range of very tall mountains — from the city, we can see a peak that is higher than Mont Blanc, but still these mountains felt more like horizontal elements. The truth is I don't really know where my own interest in tall buildings really comes from. It cannot come from my hometown because there were no tall buildings there! I was amazed when they built the first seven-story building in Tucuman. (Laughs)
Guy Pearce: “Where’s my conviction?”
Mr. Pearce, based on the characters you play, would you say you are interested in the dark side of humanity?
I would say I’m fascinated by how people can be completely narrow-minded, particularly when it comes to extremely bad behavior leading to violence or the repression of others. I'm so shocked by people's behavior that it's really fascinating to play those types of characters, actually. Whether I'm playing somebody who is pursued or repressed or if I'm playing the antagonist myself, either way, the story of the way in which we relate to each other always fascinates me and the more extreme, the more fascinating, really. I also think I have an understanding of great fear and being powerless.
Well, I have a sister with an intellectual disability and I think growing up with her and watching her try to survive in the world is very frightening. For her, a lot of life is quite tormented, even just by somebody who is a bit off-hand and a bit judgmental — for her that is pretty much torturous. Having experienced that just beside her probably has something to do with why I choose the roles that I choose, you know? My dad was also killed when I was very young, and that was a pretty horrifying experience for me, so I think my interest in extreme events stems from that as well…