Guy Pearce is well known for his dramatic work in movies like Memento and The King’s Speech. Viewers will see his physical side in Lockout, as the action hero Snow. Pearce has a strapping body with arms exploding out of a tank top.

“It was a lot of serious working out in a Belgrade gym,” Pearce said. He shot the film in Serbia. Snow has to go to a space prison to rescue the president’s daughter (Maggie Grace), and he looks like he can handle himself.

“I just went back to the gym. I used to work out in the gym a lot when I was younger. I was a competition body builder when I was 16 or something crazy like that for a short period of time. So, the gym is quite familiar and I know what I’m doing there. It was really about taking lots of protein and buffing up as much as I could, which stopped the day we finished shooting.But it was good for me because it was a physical role. It was good to feel strong and feel like I was in shape.”

Once Snow is in the space prison he has to cover up in a space suit. That was even worse than torturing his body in the gym. “That was terrible. I’m not sure. It was terrible trying to get those bloody things on. It took half an hour to get them on and half an hour to get them off. We sort of drilled into them and drilled out of them. It was uncomfortable. We couldn’t hear anything. We couldn’t hear each other. We had to hold hands at one point and all you could feel was like clack, clack. ‘Was that your hand? Do we look like we’re holding hands? Okay. Action!’”

In Serbia, Pearce did not have much time to explore, considering the physical task he took on. “I didn’t really have much off time. I was in a lot of the stuff. Obviously, there are a few scenes that Maggie does that I’m not in. But I was at the gym. Pretty much I was at the gym. I generally love Eastern Europe anyway. There’s an artistic, intellectual and psychological view of the world that I find really alive and engaging.”

When he wasn’t working or working out, Pearce played music. “I stayed in the old town in an apartment. I had this fantastic apartment. I had a guitar with me, so if I had any free time, I could play the guitar. If I wasn’t too bruised, I had something to play.”

Lockout opens Friday.