updated 03/23/2011 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/27/2011 AT 7:30 AM ET
Guy Pearce is great to work with. In a pinch, he’ll even save your life.
Kate Winslet found this out recently while filming Mildred Pierce for HBO. The period piece required Pearce, 43, to drive an unwieldy 1929 Cord automobile with heavy steering and awkward gears. And at one point, with Winslet, 35, in the passenger seat, they had a very close call.
“We’d finished a take, and a van came onto the road that we were on without seeing us,” Pearce told PEOPLE at the miniseries’ premiere this week in New York. “We both had to sort of swerve to get out of each other’s way … and I thought … wow!”