Sundance stars sound off
on gun violence in film

Cast member Guy Pearce poses at the premiere of "Breathe In" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 in Park City, Utah. (Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)
Cast member Guy Pearce poses at the premiere of "Breathe In" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 in Park City, Utah. (Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

The Sundance Film Festival isn't home to many shoot-em-up movies, but action-oriented actors at the festival are facing questions about Hollywood's role in American gun violence.

Guy Pearce and Alexander Skarsgard are among those who say Hollywood shares in the blame.

Pearce is in Park City, Utah, to support the family drama "Breathe In," but he's pulled plenty of imaginary triggers in violent films such as "Lockdown" and "Lawless." He says Hollywood may make guns seem "cool" to the broader culture, but there are vast variations in films' approach to guns.

"Hollywood probably does play a role," Pearce said. "It's a broad spectrum though. There are films that use guns flippantly, then there are films that use guns in a way that would make you never want to look at a gun ever again — because of the effect that it's had on the other people in the story at the time. So to sort of just say Hollywood and guns, it's a broad palette that you're dealing with, I think. But I'm sure it does have an effect. "

The subject came up at the Utah film festival amid a national debate over gun control after a string of devastating mass shootings, including the attack at a Connecticut elementary school last month that left 20 young children dead.

Skarsgard, who blasted away aliens in "Battleship," says he agrees that Hollywood has some responsibility for how it depicts violence on-screen.

"When Wayne LaPierre blames it on Hollywood and says guns have nothing to do with it, there is a reason," he said, referring to the executive director of the National Rifle Association, the country's most powerful pro-gun group.

"I mean, I'm from Sweden. We do have violent video games in Sweden. My teenage brother plays them. He watches Hollywood movies. We do have insane people in Sweden and in Canada. But we don't have 30,000 gun deaths a year," Skarsgard added.

"Yes, there's only 10 million people in Sweden as opposed to over 300 (million) in the United States. But the numbers just don't add up. There are over 300 million weapons in this country. And they help. They do kill people."

Ellen Page, who co-stars with Skarsgard in "The East," noted that gun restrictions are much more pervasive in her home country, Canada.

"You can't buy some crazy assault rifle that is made for the military to kill people. And like that to me is just like a no-brainer," she said. "Why should that just be out and be able to be purchased? That does not make me feel safe as a person."

Skarsgard says it may be time to revisit the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms.

Pro-gun advocates often point to the Second Amendment to argue that gun ownership is a basic American right. Others say the Founding Fathers could never have envisioned military-style assault weapons 200 years ago.

"The whole Second Amendment discussion is ridiculous to me. Because that was written over 200 years ago, and it was a militia to have muskets to fight off Brits," he said. "The Brits aren't coming. It's 2013. Things have changed. And for someone to mail-order an assault rifle is crazy to me. They don't belong anywhere but the military to me. You don't need that to protect your home or shoot deer, you know."

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