Guy Pearce in a scene from the TV series Jack Irish.
Guy Pearce in a scene from the TV series Jack Irish. Lachlan Moore

The luck and love of Jack Irish

AN EXPANDED series of Jack Irish means more bruises for Guy Pearce.

The Emmy Award-winning actor is back in a six-episode series of the Australian crime drama based on Pete Temple's detective novels.

"Jack gets beaten up quite a lot in this series... he finds himself at the wrong end of various peoples' fists and boots," Pearce tells APN.

"It's great fun really, because he's trying to achieve something even though he doesn't know what it is.

"One of the great things about playing Jack is, yes, he's a bit lazy, a bit stuck in his ways and a bit embedded in his life in Melbourne, but he has a moral or ethical drive that keeps him buoyant and searching, even though emotionally he might not know what he's searching for."

Pearce received acclaim for his portrayal of the former criminal lawyer turned private investigator and debt collector in the ABC's three previous telemovies.

Guy Pearce and Claudia Karvan in a scene from Jack Irish.
Guy Pearce and Claudia Karvan in a scene from Jack Irish. Contributed

He currently stars in a series based on Temple's final Jack Irish novel, White Dog, and new original material.

"The writers ventured into new territory with this," he says.

"The task for them before was to condense the original material down into 1.5 hours. Now we've been able to spread it over six hours.

"It didn't feel hugely different for me filming it. I was just working with all these great actors and following along on the path Jack finds himself being taken down."

In the new series, his journalist girlfriend Linda, played by Marta Dusseldorp, has taken a job in the Philippines, leaving the future of their relationship in doubt.

"Anything familiar to Jack is worth hanging on to, even if he doesn't have the motivation to look at what needs to be fixed or changed or worked on," Pearce says.

"In typical Jack fashion he lets his work become his focus.

"He's a bit of a sloth emotionally, while she's fired up and ready to have the conversation... she's proactive and he's going with the wind."

Claudia Karvan has joined the cast as Sarah Longmore, an artist and the daughter of the Attorney General, who becomes Jack's new love interest.

Sarah is searching for her missing sister Tina, who appears to be caught up in the same shadowy web of the religious and corporate conspiracy which has framed Jack for murder.

"It's nice to have her offer something in a love story that makes Jack question himself," Pearce says. "When he sees somebody else in pain he can't ignore it; he knows he's got the ability to investigate."

Jack Irish airs Thursdays at 8.30pm on ABC1.