ROSAMUND PIKE Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
April 1, 2007
When we last spoke with Rosamund Pike nearly 18 months ago, she was being a good sport by promoting her shoot-'em-up action flick Doom with jokes and amusing stories from the set. Since then, the British actress who portrayed icy villainess Miranda Frost in Die Another Day had her first opportunity to film in Los Angeles with Fracture, a crime thriller starring Anthony Hopkins as a man who confesses to killing his wife and Ryan Gosling as a hotshot prosecutor determined to take him down.
In this exclusive interview, Rosamund talks about a wide variety of topics, including her maiden movie-making experience in the City of Angels, past Harry Potter rumors, upcoming projects, amusing animal antics, and an onstage performance in which her wardrobe is solely a pair of high heels.
Catch Rosamund's new film, Fracture, in theaters now. She will also be returning to the stage this summer.
RadioFree.com: When we spoke to you for Doom, you said that you had yet to film a movie in Los Angeles, and then Fracture came along and gave you that opportunity. Was it everything you hoped it would be?
ROSAMUND: I think as an introduction to filming in LA, this film was about as good as it gets. Not only was it a film about LA in which LA is almost a character, but it shows this incredibly sexy, steely LA that people often don't see--the downtown city, with the high rise buildings, and the hotels with their rooftop bars, and the Disney hall, the opera house. And it was exciting. And the way [director Gregory Hoblit] shot the movie, I think he managed this incredible kind of look for the film. It reminds me a little bit of Heat, actually. He uses all these reflective surfaces. Shiny floors, windows, glass elevators, cars--everything's kind of super-reflective. And it gives it a sense of multiple perspectives, I suppose, which is what the film's about, really.
Did you find the experience of shooting in LA to be more hectic than, say, New York?
No, actually. You know, the crew on this film was just so professional. It was incredibly calm, actually. It was a rather sort of super-slick operation all through, I'd say.
Your Thanksgiving dinner scene with Ryan Gosling was interesting. How are your own family celebrations? I guess they wouldn't have as much drama...
[laughs] Well, no, we're quite theatrical, my family, so there's always quite a lot of drama. I mean, I come from a family of opera singers. It tends to be quite highly charged--fierce debate, all of that stuff. But in Fracture, it was hilarious, the days of filming that Thanksgiving scene, it was like a parody of American Thanksgiving. Anything that we imagine about America being kind of [about] excess and enormous portions...We had sort of five turkeys and seven huge plates of pumpkin pie, and vegetables. I've understood, actually, that in fact, that's quite normal for the average American family to have five large turkeys on the table. I mean, I thought it was just the excesses of filming, but apparently, I have it on good knowledge that that happens all over the place. [laughs]
You made a funny comment earlier about speed dating. Is that something you've tried out?
[laughs] No, I haven't done speed dating. I was talking about doing the TV junket yesterday where you sit in a chair and they just shoot [interviewers] in at you. Kind of every seven minutes, you get somebody else. So I imagine that's what speed dating's like.
I'd like to dispel some rumors if possible. Is it true that you were set to do the role of Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter, which was ultimately played by Miranda Richardson? It has been said that you dropped out of that to do Pride and Prejudice...
No, I don't know where that's come from. I never even got approached for it. I mean, maybe I was on a list somewhere, but nobody ever talked to me about it.
Rita was a sort of unscrupulous journalist with a magic pen that chronically misquotes people. Have you often found yourself the victim of media misinformation?
Yes. Apparently I have a child with my German lover, whose name is Andre Schneider, who apparently is a very high-flying German actor. I've never met the fellow. I'm sure he's lovely. But there's no baby on the way.
Are you still working on Caitlin, the story of poet Dylan Thomas and his wife?
Well, I'm attached to Caitlin. Whether it'll happen, I'm not sure. I mean, it'll be a case a bit like Capote, which I think anyone in the future should try and avoid, of two films with the same subject matter. Keira Knightley's mother has written another film about Dylan Thomas, and that's going into production this summer. So we'll see.
Coincidentally, Miranda Richardson is also attached to Caitlin...
She is. We're to play the same character, so it's interesting that you say that thing about Harry Potter. So maybe we are similar in some way.
As someone who graduated magna cum laude in English literature, I assume you'd probably be excited to play Caitlin Thomas and tell her side of the story...
Yeah, it's a wonderful script. She was married to Dylan Thomas, and they had huge trials in their marriage. You know, he suddenly became a superstar. It was like being suddenly married to Bob Dylan. He went to the States and he started doing these poetry recitals, and then they became like rock concerts. He had girls screaming, he had fans. She was back in England or wherever they were living...And I think what's interesting about the film is that as an audience, you're rather cynical, and you think the marriage is falling apart. But the fact [is] that no outside eye can ever know what's going on in a relationship. And it's only about the two people involved. And in the end, it has a really lovely surprising ending, and you realize that these two people are soulmates, and it's a beautiful film.
Do you have a favorite work of Dylan Thomas?
Hmmm...Yes. That lovely poem that begins "In my craft or sullen art..." It's about being an artist and doing your work for the lovers. And I always loved that idea: tell stories for the lovers.
What is your film Jackboots on Whitehall about?
It's a brilliant satire all done with action puppets. Action figures. You know, like little dolls, really.
So it's not computer animated?
No, it's all done [with] kind of low production values, but incredibly skillful, with little action figures that people move by hands or by wires, or however they can make these things move. And it's an imagined satirical scenario where the Germans have won the Battle of Britain and have taken over Whitehall. And they're working their way up north, and the Britains are retreating, and they suddenly get to Scotland where they come across a kind of Braveheart figure. And the Scottish kind of finally win the day and "bash the bosh," as they say!
Who is your character?
I play a kind of very hearty English landgirl called Daisy, who's a beautiful, very sexy sort of action figure doll, with blonde hair, and very busty, and she's lovely. And she's all sort of "up!" [rallies the tone of her voice] "Come on, boys! Let's show them what we can do!" That sort of very hearty, old-fashioned, 1940s English sort of good home girl. [laughs]
What did you think of your action figure alter-ego?
I'd love to have her statistics. [laughs]
Ewan McGregor is also in the film, as well as Alan Cumming, who voices Hitler. That actually sounds hilarious...
Yeah. We all recorded our parts separately as you do for voiceover work, and as everyone became available. You know, they basically called in a favor from everybody. And these guys' previous film, they did in the same kind of style with these action figures. [It was] about the Vietnam War. It's worth checking out on their website. They're called Ed and Rory McHenry. And I think they're very, very talented young men...I hope [Jackboots will] be a huge cult hit for these boys.
How did you feel about landing the role of Miranda Frost in the James Bond film Die Another Day? I understand you were not as cooly collected as your villainous character...
I know. I was like a sort of rabbit in the headlights, I think. You know, it's a huge gig to get at a young age. And yeah, I was nervous, terrified of not being up to the job, and I was intimidated by everybody. But it's funny, because when you're playing a character who is so intimidating, people never believe you're nervous. [laughs]
Well, you pulled it off well. You were nominated for Best Female Villain in our 2003 movie awards...
Oh, really? Oh, good! That's nice.
Have you been able to shake the nerves a little more since then, now that you have more experience?
Well, I think the nerves almost come up more during all the press releases when you have to be yourself. I feel quite protected inside the shell of a character. It's more the kind of having to make the public appearances--that's what makes me nervous. [laughs]
As far as nerves go, what about something like your stage performance in Hitchcock Blonde? You had to do a nude scene in that, yes?
In Hitchcock Blonde, I did. Yeah. It was funny...I had to be on stage naked for about ten minutes, apart from a pair of black high heels. And one night, I forgot the high heels. And that was the only night that I felt naked! [laughs]
Wow, so just a pair of high heels make you feel like...
...you're covered up in some way! [laughs]
What was the set environment like for Pride and Prejudice? I've heard it was a lot of hanging out with your co-stars who played the other sisters...
Yeah. It was a sort of idyllic summer, absolutely...There's always an issue about whether rehearsing is good for a film or not. And Anthony Hopkins is someone who is very kind of down on it, and doesn't want to do it at all. But I think for a film like Pride and Prejudice, it's absolutely essential, because if, at the center of the film, you've got a family, and you've got to create that feeling in an audience, that they watch that family and they want to be part of it, then you have to get to know each other, and you have to sort of stimulate that kind of closeness. And we did through this sort of wonderful summer of adventures together, and spending a huge amount of time on location. And we'd find lakes, we'd go swimming, we'd picnic. It was completely idyllic and very, very romantic.
It seems like there have been so many film and TV incarnations of Pride and Prejudice. What do you think your version brought that was new and fresh to the mix?
It's interesting, I think it's such a strong story that everybody thinks there have been hundreds and hundreds of versions. I mean, there hasn't been another film of Pride and Prejudice since 1940. So we made it over 60 years later. And there's really only been the one sort of iconic television production. I think we sort of roughed it up a bit, really. We showed that these girls were actually very similar to modern families today. I think we were inspired by sisters we all knew. I think we brought up the kind of scruffiness of the family--the chaoticness, the mess. All the things that you don't associate with Jane Austen when it's conventionally shown on film.
And finally, a completely unrelated question...What is your favorite black and white animal: panda, cow, penguin, or something else?
And why is that? Because of their recent popularity in March of the Penguins and Happy Feet?
No, just because of their antics. It's always been a penguin, ever since I read a book called Otto the Penguin when I was about six. You have to see if you can find it.