Rosamund Pike's played plenty of ice-maidens in her time, luckily, she’s not in character today and, despite being confined to a hot hotel room, her icy image melts as she talks about her latest incarnation as a career driven lawyer...
You've said you’re very different to your character. What drew you to her?
Well it was more the film than the character. It’s the kind of film that I love to go and see and it’s the kind of film I feel that hasn’t really been around for a while, you know really clever and intelligent – a psychological thriller. It’s tense but it’s also really glossy. I knew that Gregory Hoblit, the director, had shot Primal Fear, which I thought was just an amazing thriller. I really wanted to do it because I thought this was the kind of film he would do really well. I love the way that it’s shot. I love that they don’t shy away from production - it’s a high gloss look at L.A. and I love that. I’ve played a few victims recently, I’ve just done A Summer In Smoke, a Tennessee Williams play, and my character suffers in it. I’m about to have another summer playing another long suffering woman again, so it’s quite fun to play someone who doesn’t let herself be in that position and is the alpha female.
What usually draws you to a script?
It’s usually a character, you know, who has something I really feel I can have a secret about and kind of find my own way of creating. But in this case it was the cast and the director and the actual quality of the writing.
What did you do to get into character?
I hung about in down town L.A.; I’d never been there actually. I know L.A. quite well, but not the downtown business district. So I hung around there, looking at women and seeing what they did for their lunch and seeing how they act. They’re all very solitary down there, you know. You don’t see very many people having lunch together or having much time to talk, it’s all very practical. I was taking photos of them with my digital camera – I’d just got this new camera – so in other words I was looking like some absolute freaky stalker! I was following women around taking their pictures and people started looking at me really funny, as you would! It was a mixture between having a new toy and trying to do research and thinking I could combine the two. So then I decided I’d better back track, so I went away and I met some L.A. attorneys in more respectable terms and actually went out for dinner with them. I had it all arranged properly. I talked to these very high-powered women. I said to one of them, ‘How do you feel if get someone a verdict of innocent who in your heart feel is guilty’ and she said ‘Well I’d just say the prosecution didn’t do their job well enough’. Completely icy and no feeling. They sort of eliminate their moral consciousness and they are just doing it as a game, as a job. They go home at the end of the day and don’t take it with them.
What was Anthony Hopkins like onset?
Well I didn’t actually get to work with him, that was the heartbreaking thing. He must be on every actor’s radar to work with, and I didn’t get any scenes with him. He’s a wonderful guy, he makes me laugh and he’s just an amazing talker – sweet. He’s kind of Renaissance man, he’s painting and he’s directing films and he’s a brilliant drawer. He’d be talking to you and doodling and you’d look up and there’d be the most amazing picture. He’s just having fun; he really plays the game well. He’s at the top of his game of course. But you sense in the movie that he’s just having laugh, it’s quite a playful character in a way and he’s just so intelligent - he projects such extraordinary intelligence that you just thinks he’s way ahead of the game. It’s like life’s happening in slow motion and he can just kind of chill out and enjoy it unravelling.
What was Ryan Gosling like to work with?
He was great, I’ve got a real soft spot for Ryan he’s very, very talented and everything is so, so intense when he is acting. He almost leaps out of the screen and into the front rows of the cinema. He analyses a script completely and tears it to shreds, which is something you would never dream of in the theatre! He changes some of the lines things he feels would be better suited to his character, which I am just not used to, but it’s so amazing to watch him do it.
Do you think that coming from a background in theatre gives you an advantage over people who have only worked in film?
No, not really. Although it does give you that discipline that you can only get from working in theatre. Also, I’ve done so much theatre, it’s nice to have a change and do some films. I’ll do six months in a theatre and then go out and make a few films, but then after that, I’m always desperate to go back and do another six months on stage.
If you could work with anyone at all, who would it be?
Director wise, I would love to work with David Lynch, he just makes the most out there and interesting films. Or Mike Leigh, because he gets the most extraordinary performances out of the actors and I’d love to be involved in that. Actors that I would love to work with are…I want to work with Anthony Hopkins! Or Jake Gyllenhaal, because he is just the most talented actor. I love his sister too, Maggie, she is the queen of indie films and I love everything she has ever been in.
The film seems to be very much about being in control. Do you agree?
Yes that definitely seems to be a theme. It’s a very cutthroat world, law, and nearly all of the characters are nasty people. There’s almost something sadistic about watching it and getting pleasure from seeing all these characters trying to out do and do over each other. The whole film is about playing off peoples’ weak spots. Nikki is very harsh and goes for what she wants. She’s not a nice, kind, caring person, but she shows a vulnerable side when she starts to fall in love with Beachum and she almost cracks. She has never let anyone get close to her and now she has, it looks like it could break her.
What kind of films do you enjoy?
The film was so fun to shoot, it was all on location in L.A. and there are some stunning views. I love the glossy, fantasy look of L.A and I think it fits in well with the themes in the film. The offices were all very shiny and polished and everything was sort of reflective, like you were getting to se two sides of people. That’s what I enjoy in films. I want escapism. So many British films are gritty and all about realism, but when I watch a film I want it to be beautiful. I don’t want to see what people look like in real life, I want the women to have a polished finish – like Scarlett Johansson in The Black Dahlia. The men look good in that film too.
How do you feel about the ice-maiden image that seems to have stuck to you?
Oh yes! I don’t really know how that happened! I suppose I did it to myself with the parts I played. I tried to undo it a bit when I was in Pride and Prejudice but Joe Wright, the director, wouldn’t let me change Jane at all! She was hyper-female and a bit of a victim, which I seem to have played a lot of, so after that I just wanted to play a few steely, dominating women and take the power back! I think I shocked myself with that, but once I had the ice-maiden image, I thought I might as well go with it and make something of it!
But you’ve also injected quite a lot of sex into those roles, like in The Libertine…
Yes, I’m very proud of that sex scene! It’s so good, I think, because you don’t actually see anything and it’s so much more intimate than just two naked bodies. It’s almost dirty and forbidden which makes it more shocking I think!
How did you feel about your family seeing it?
Well it’s all part of the show and I am still proud of what I have done. I think they understand!