ROSAMUND PIKE on 'DOOM' Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
October 7, 2005
Based on the video game that defined the "first person shooter" genre, the futuristic action flick Doom follows a group of marines to a remote research facility on Mars, where DNA experiments have led to mutations, murder, and mayhem. Their mission is simple: salvage the situation and neutralize any threat they may encounter.
Rosamund Pike, who portrayed villainous Bond babe Miranda Frost in Die Another Day and elder sister Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, plays Doom's Samantha Grimm, a research scientist at the Mars site who happens to be the sister of one of the marines. She is just about the only woman to be seen in this testosterone-heavy adventure.
In this interview, Rosamund, who is quite funny and refreshingly self-deprecating in regards to working on Doom, talks about having nightmares about the movie, massaging male egos, and picking which alien creature she'd shag.
MEDIA: So how was it being one of the only female cast members? Lots of testosterone to deal with on set?
ROSAMUND: Yeah, too much! I mean, oh my God, I had to keep saying, "Down, boy!" [laughs] I've got to pay The Rock back because he's been telling journalists all morning that I couldn't keep my hands off him when we stopped filming. [laughs] No, it was great. I'd also just came off a film of all female. I've been doing Pride and Prejudice all summer, so suddenly the chance to be holed up with a bunch of marines is quite attractive, and probably a necessary dose of male energy.
Aside from the male energy, what attracted you to the project?
Actually, first of all, it was the script, strangely enough. Because--horrible confession--I didn't know it was based on a video game. So when I got the script, it reminded more of the Alien franchise. I didn't know it was going to be a video game franchise. So it was a story, and also, it had an interesting female character who seemed reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver's character in Alien. And then when I met the director and he said, "We're going to go all out for violence, and we're going to make a movie that's really unpalatable, and it's definitely going to be R-rated, and I'm not going to scrimp on that," I thought, "This is the last thing in the world I'd think of myself doing. So why not?" And I like the look on people's faces when I say I'm doing this movie called Pride and Prejudice and they kind of smile, and then I say I'm in a movie called Doom and they kind of do a double take and try and put the two things together. And they never quite manage to.
Were you upset about not being able to play with the guns?
It was a long-running debate, actually, between me and the producers, because I felt that I should have a gun. And also just from a believability point of view that [my character's] brother wouldn't let her be left unarmed with all this carnage that's going on. But that's why she's dressed in white...they had this idea that maybe it's quite interesting to have a character who gets through all the carnage without being armed. It's just a little thing that I think they wanted to put in the film so they didn't seem to be endorsing violence all the way through. But the armorer on the set was the man who I worked with when I was doing James Bond, and I had quite a lot of spare time when I was on set on Bond, and we used to go off to an empty soundstage and he'd give me extra gun practice. He'd teach me how to jump off something, fall on the ground, roll over, and come up firing. So I kind of had all these skills I was really ready to show off. [laughs] But, you know...just didn't get the chance. But I think Sam's definitely going to have a makeover if we ever get to Doom 2. She's going to take that Chromosome 24, she's going to become a bionic woman, and she's going to get her hands on the BFG. [laughs]
Did you have any preconceived notions about working with The Rock?
Yeah. I thought he was going to take himself incredibly seriously. I thought he was going to be just the kind of man I really wouldn't like. Then he turned out to be someone who doesn't take himself seriously at all, and is very funny and self-ironizing. And he takes the piss out of everyone and himself, and I like that a lot, really.
Did you have a daily routine to psyche yourself up for the movie's sci-fi horror action?
Not really. I think you tend to try, during the time you've got off, to forget about the film. It was such a total world. I mean, the sets were claustrophobic, and as soon as you were on there, you were right back into it. You know, with all those long corridors and the labs, and everything sort of looked the same, and it's all very low lighting. Even the areas around the set [were] all very dark and kind of oppressive. It gave me nightmares. I'm a really calm sleeper, and I'd wake up during this film in a literal cold sweat. It's strange. Even though you know it's not real, on some subconscious level, it gets inside you, just witnessing that amount of gunfire. And that blood! I mean, the blood, my God! The blood was everywhere! I dreamt about the blood. They wanted to make creature blood about as disgusting as they could, so they filled it with these black pellets. And then they had these pots of stuff called ultra-slime, which they mixed in. It was like this cake mix of the most grotesque, stringy stuff. You know those bits in Alien where they get cocooned in that stuff against the wall? I [had] nightmares that I was cocooned in that creature blood. [breathes heavily] Anyway...All gone now!
What was the atmosphere on the set like between takes?
There was quite a lot of banter. It was a very lighthearted set. It was all the men competing over the size of their guns, all feeling insecure about having a smaller gun than The Rock. It was just a process of endless ego massaging on my part, really, trying to tell them their gun was hard enough and big enough. [laughs] A woman's lot, really.
Was it fun dealing with all the creatures built for this movie?
Yeah, I enjoyed it. One of the things that attracted me [was that] it wasn't going to be a lot of bluescreen--it was going to be real monsters. Monsters? I never know if I'm allowed to call them demons, monsters, or creatures. But it was fantastic. I think we saw more of them in action than ever can appear in the movie, because a glimpse of something plus your imagination is really frightening, but if the camera lingers on it for too long, you start to disbelieve it. But they were incredible, because there were these men inside the suits, plus they could be operated by remote control as well. So the men would do the basic body movements, and then a guy with a remote control could make the scalp palpate, or the nose area flare, or the drool...It was fantastic. But I don't know if you get the full effect on screen.
Did you have a favorite creature?
Yeah. We kind of kept having this game...If we had to shag one of them, which one would it be? And I think eventually, I went for the Imp as being the least unappetizing. I didn't think I could cope with the [creature with] sixteen eyes...A bit too intimate. [laughs] Sorry...You had to kind of laugh all the way through this movie.
Which one did The Rock say he'd "shag"?
I'm not sure. He probably would have had them all at once, I'd imagine.
Did you consider the social implications of doing a film so steeped in violence?
Yeah, I thought about it at the time a lot, actually. What am I saying by being in a film like this? You know, whether that does impart a message. So it was at that point I thought, "Aaahhh, very good idea of the producers to make me the only unarmed character." You know, you've got a kind of buyout clause, really. It's something that I am going over in my head about the whole video game thing, and whether you support violence by being in a film like this. I mean, to me, it's incredibly unreal and it's all about the action, and just explosions. I've got friends who are pyrotechnics who do big fire shows, so I'm really fascinated by that. And so when I see a film like Doom, it's more about the action, but it all remains unreal. But if it starts where people take it as real and take it as sanctioning violence, then I'm really against that. So it is something I've been thinking about a lot. But, you know, I find it easy not to take [the movie] too seriously.
So would you be game for Doom 2?
I would do it, yeah. Because I want Sam to lighten up a bit. As I said, I think we've got a really interesting character journey to go on.
How would you sum up your character's personality?
You think she's going to be very uptight, and then she softens, and then she turns out to be this sort of emotional heart of it...which I'm sort of pleased that it comes out like that. I mean, I know that most people won't give a sh*t about whether she's the emotional heart of it, because that's not why they're going to see the film. [laughs] But I hope that if there's a girlfriend who's brought in because her bloke wants to see the film and she thinks she's going to hate it, that she'll at least have someone that she can identify with.
You said you weren't familiar with the Doom video game. Did they give you the crash course and make you play it?
[jokes] Yes, they chained me into a room and made me play it for 16-hour sessions at a time. That's probably the kind of thing they would do in the futuristic world of filmmaking, where it's all about video games. They'll chain the actors down and make them play and compete. That'll be your audition process--how long you can endure a gaming session. Ummm...No, and I still haven't played it. They've actually got one upstairs, so I thought at the end of this, I might go and at least see it.
Were you the victim of any practical jokes during filming?
There was a scene where I have to dissect the Imp, and I have to pull out the innards--the heart and the lungs. Well, we were two days late filming that scene, and they should have kept them refrigerated, and they didn't. And I'm not sure if that was someone playing a joke on me just to see how far they could push me, but I tell you, they stank to high heaven by the time we got there. And I had to be elbows deep in them all day. It was horrible. [laughs]
Did you have trouble dealing with lunch after something like that?
That was fine. And the Prague food...You know, there wasn't a great difference between the Czech food and the kind of things that we were looking at on the set. [laughs] You know, goulash, entrails...it all kind of...
What do you think about all the positive reaction to Pride and Prejudice?
The response to Pride has been so overwhelming. I mean, people have really loved it. And it's so rewarding because we had such a fun time making that film, and it was made with so much heart, that it's lovely that people seem to be responding in kind to that.
What can you tell us about your upcoming film, Devil You Know?
It's an indie film I just finished in New York, which I did with friends, really. It's like a noir thriller. It's hyper-styled. It's styled like a Bonnie and Clyde or an old '70s Italian film. It's beautifully shot and beautifully done. It was in New York, and I've always wanted to film in New York. And the writer was a teenage friend of mine. We did youth theatre together when we were 16 and always had a dream of making a film together. And ten years later, we've done it. So it's great.
What would be your ideal career plan for the immediate future?
I'd like to live in New York and split between making films in Europe and making films in America. That's my ideal. I'd really love to live in New York for awhile. That's what I'm hoping to do. I've never done a film in Los Angeles, so I don't know what that would be like--that experience of working in a big studio. I can't imagine...yet.