From Bond Girl to Gone Girl to 2015s It Girl Rosamund Pike
By Sam Kashner, Photos by Mario Testino, hair products by john frieda; makeup products and nail enamel by chanel; hair by odile gilbert; makeup by lucia pica; manicure by brenda abrial; set design by jack flanagan; produced on location by production berlin, paris department; for details, gotovf.com/credits
Gone and Found
Photos: GOWN GIRL. Pike wears clothing by Giambattista Valli Haute Couture; necklace by Chanel fine jewelry; ring by Van Cleef & Arpels.
Rosamund Pike in Paris. “Actors who are extremely beautiful can be easily dismissed, but... Rosamund has this incredible ability and incredible brain,” says Sally Hawkins.
Gone Girl opened with a shot of Rosamund Pike, admired actress, and ended with a shot of Rosamund Pike, movie star. Meeting Hollywood’s latest sensation, in London, SAM KASHNER hears about the challenges of playing Amy Dunne, the experience of sudden fame, and the way Pike fell in love - at Stonehenge, no less - with the father of her new baby.
For the longest time, Rosamund Pike couldn’t talk about the role that would make her an international film star. Though millions of people had read Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s phenomenal best-seller (over two years and counting on the New York Times bestseller list), many more would come to the movie not knowing the true character of the novel’s heroine, “Amazing” Amy Dunne. For many months, Rosamund had to keep that secret.
At the beginning of the film, the first tiling we See of Amy Dunne is the back of her head, just as Flynn had imagined it. (“When I think of my wife, I always think of her head ... ” ) One hundred forty-nine minutes later, when she turns around to look directly at us at the end of the movie, we see her face, but it isn’t just Amy Dunne’s face any longer—it’s that of Rosamund Pike, movie star.
We met in London in November, on the weekend before Guy Fawkes Day, at the Cock & Bottle, an old-school Notting Hill pub “dating back to before the area’s chichi changeup,” as Rosamund explained. We had arranged to meet at the pub and then go see the fireworks over the Thames., fireworks Might, or Guy Fawkes Night, is a British tradition going back to the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, in which Catholic conspirator Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
In her black wool cap and shearling coat, with its collar of lamb’s wool pulled up around her winsome face, Rosamund, nine months pregnant, gamely trekked along the Albert Bridge with me. “This night is why I love London,” she observed as we followed the throng across the bridge.
LADY IN WHITE
As for Pike’s second pregnancy, she says,
“It’s been a great protective shield from having to make a decision [on future roles], because the next thing that comes won’t be a film.”
PIKE WEARS A GOWN BY CHANEL HAUTE COUTURE.
Pike was bom into an English performing family, and as we walked we talked about her parents’ careers and their long marriage. Caroline Friend Pike and Julian Pike are both opera singers, and Julian is currently head of vocal and operatic studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire. He sang Don Jose in Peter Brook’s acclaimed 1982 international production of Camien. Caroline helped to break opera out of the proscenium arch and into the round,
“where the acting has to be better because everyone is suddenly closer,” Rosamund explained proudly. “Her touring helped introduce opera to a new audience.”
For Rosamund, part of the allure of acting is “the energy you see in someone right after a performance. When you grow up with performers, you see it.” Even though she attended a boarding school in Bristol, she was often able to watch her parents onstage. Rosamund recalls what it was like when her mother drove her back to school after performing, and the energy in the car was palpable. “This sort of smell of the theater” clung to her mother, and it was “sexy and powerful,” especially against the stale ordinariness of school.
Rosamund felt that her parents’ friends also were “very interesting and engaging, because, if you have parents who know how to play and live life in the imagination, a child finds it easy to respond to them. They all seemed wonderfully fun and played games—acting games, really.” One she remembers is from Noel Coward’s Hay Fevei; in which “somebody goes out of the room, thinks about an adverb like ‘greedily’ or ‘drunkenly ’ or ‘suspiciously,' and then when they come back in, everybody else in the room tries to guess the word. It’s hilarious because it was so fun to see adults being silly, making fools of themselves.” It seemed normal to Rosamund, but, she adds, “I guess a lot of children don’t get to see their parents being idiotic and childish.”
IT'S AS IF YOU'VE BECOME AN ALIEN BEING. THE PUBLIC DOESN’T WANT YOU TO BE REAL.
By the time we reached Battersea Park, a steady rain had begun, and it seemed almost to pull the flames and orange sparks and smoke of the bonfire, traditionally lit on this night, up into itself. Like a sensible English girl, Rosamund had worn her Wellies; like a born New Yorker, I had not. The mud beneath our feet was of the kind that Dickens describes at the beginning of Bleak House. It was everywhere. But Rosamund was looking up, a habit of hers and one reason she gives for having decided to finish her degree at Oxford, where she read English literature at Widham College, after having been turned down by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. “I decided to finish at Oxford because I looked up at the top of the buildings—the gargoyles and spires—and decided to stay,” she recalled with a laugh.
While still a teenager she was cast as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the National Youth Theatre. But in 2002, after her career stalled, she was about to take a job as a clerk at Waterstones booksellers, in London. In the nick of time she was cast as a Bond girl, Miranda Frost, opposite Pierce Brosnan in Die Anorfier Day. (Curiously, she had never seen a Bond film before appearing in one.) So, it took only 25 films, six television programs, and six stage performances before, you might say, she really, truly arrived.
CURIOUSLY SHE HAD NEVER SEEN A BOND FILM BEFORE APPEARING IN Die Another Day.
Wth her blonde, lissome, and sometimes aloof appearance, she fit the bill as both a Bond girl and a Hitchcock blonde. Hitchcock would have loved her serene, elegant beauty. Or, as Sally Hawkins, who starred in Made in Dagenham alongside Rosamund, says, “You feel he would go bonkers for her.” (Indeed, Rosamund starred in Terry Johnson’s 2003 play at the Royal Court, Hitchcock Blonde, in which she appeared nude—ip high heels—and described an orgasm to her husband. Not surprisingly, it was a tremendous hit, moving to the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End. )
Rosamund is philosophical about her sudden worldwide fame. But it’s not that she wasn’t noticed before. She won a British Independent Film Award for best supporting actress in the 2004 Johnny Depp film The Libertine, about the most notorious of all the Restoration rakes and one of the 17th century’s bawdiest poets, John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester. She was nominated for a London Film Critics Circle Award for British Supporting Actress of the "Vear for her role as Jane Bennet. the dull but beautiful sister to Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice (2005). She was also critically acclaimed for her roles in An Education (2009, with Carey Mulligan) and Barney’s Version and Made in Dagenham, both in 2010. She was in blockbusters such as Winth of the Titans (2012); she played a glossy, high-powered American lawyer in Fracture (2007) and the somewhat goofy girl from high school in The World’s End. Edgar Wight’s 2013 absurdist cross between 2 fainspotting and Invasion of the Body Snatch-ers. She appeared opposite Tom Cruise in 2012’s Jade Readier, and it was Cruise to whom she reached out when, right before the first day of shooting Gone Girl, she found herself feverishly ill and uncharacteristically terrified. He wrote back to her, “You’re ready.”
‘WHAT I’D REALLY LIKE IS FOR DAVID FINCHER TO ... SAY, ARE YOU READY FOR ROUND TWO?”’
David Fincher. Gone Girl’s director, says he chose Pike for the role of Amy in part because she was relatively unknown in America, and because she had an unknowable quality that he felt suited Amy’s inscrutable character. When he saw her in Jack Readier, which he watched on a plane, he thought. That’s the Bond girl. But “it struck me I didn’t know how old she was—she could be 22, or 32 and I thought that was unusual, as it’s part of an actress’s job to remain eternally 22 or 23. It furthered the conundrum of ‘Who is the actress playing this part?’ I was intrigued, so I got in touch with her and sent her the book.”
He and Pike met in St. Louis over a five-hour dinner, before Twentieth Century Fox and her agents were involved, and that’s when Fincher discovered that she was an only child like Amy, who is not just an only child but one doted upon and turned into a brand as the heroine of a children’s-book series written by her parents: Amazing Amy.
“Kids who are raised that way interface with the world differently—you couldn’t grab Rosamund and give her a noogie,!i says Fincher. “I thought she would relish
playing crazy Amy as well as Amazing Amy. She quickly got it, and she began writing me about what she saw in the character. I knew I just had to be smart enough to get out of the way.”
To prepare for the role, Fincher had her look at images of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, who had that aloof, unknowable quality that he was after. “In my head I saw her as Carolyn Bessette,” Fincher explained. “I had these images of before and after—of; Carolyn as an 18-year-old and as a 20-year-old, the notion of someone self-made. She crafted herself, she re-invented herself, and invented that persona. That’s where I began.”
Rosamund found a special issue of a magazine at the airport on her way home from her meeting with Fincher, a “ ‘doomed love of John F Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’ kind of a thing.
I bought it—I took it as a sign. I ordered old copies of the Vanity Fair in which she appeared on the cover. I scoured the Internet for any footage of her or, even better, any interviews or recordings which captured her voice. And I realized that David had basically given me a cipher to study.
There are countless photographs of Bessette: gorgeous portraits in Vanity Fair; vibrant, intimate photographs taken of Bessette and Kennedy engrossed in each other at parties; shots of her walking the New York streets, wrapping herself in cashmere as protection against the cold and probably photographers, head down, her long blond hair shielding her face from full view. There are even a fair few shots of her and Kennedy clearly in the midst of blistering rows in Central Park, in the street, but I could find nothing of her in her own words. And I thought. Well, maybe that’s fine. Amy, as she wants to be seeft. should be created from outside in.”
Rosamund tried to find a way to “own that body language, the self-
protective seductiveness, head down, hair falling____I couldn’t really
read her face, and so I tried to use that quality. Y)U meet Amy. she smiles, but her eyes are always scanning you, assessing, seeing if you can play the game, surprised and pleased when you score a point, feeling you might after all be worthwhile. It is not a relaxing way to live.”
Now the eyes of an industry are upon Rosamund. She’s admitted to feeling strange that Hollywood is interested, for example, in the due date for her second child, and which movie she’s going to do next. But, for an actress, it’s a good problem to have. After all, “I think I needed rather than wanted to be an actor. There is not another way to put it.”
The release of Gone Girl was “honestly the most exciting thing of my career—just the feeling of the surge of people towards the cinemas. It’s incredibly exciting to be part of that, and the volume of people going there—Korea, Australia, France, Italy, America. It was thrilling,'' Except for perhaps when she went into a shop in London’s Soho to buy some imported ham.
“I went into this lovely Spanish shop,” she recalled, “and the girl said, ‘Has anyone ever told you you look just like the girl in Gone Girl!' and I said, 'Well, that’s me.’ And then she just looked at me with this deepest look of suspicion. And I said, ‘I’m pregnant, so I look a bit different, and I’m English.’ And she’s like, ‘But why are you here?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m from here.’ And it was like, ‘You should not be buying cold cuts in a restaurant in Soho!’”1 Once you’re 50 feet tall and in the public’s imagination, it’s as if you’ve become an alien being. The public doesn’t want you to be real. “Take Kate Moss,” Rosamund says. “She never spoke, did she? That increased the paradigm so much.”
The consensus among actors she’s worked with over the past several years is that her big success is long overdue. Sally Hawkins commented that “actors who are extremely beautiful can be easily dismissed, but people are beginning to realize that Rosamund has this incredible ability and incredible brain. She can do anything, but she’s not showy with it— she doesn’t shout about it. So, it’s about time people knew about her. She’s worked incredibly hard to get to the point where she’s just arrived. She’s meant to be where she is.” Carey Mulligan describes the first time she worked with Pike, in Pride & Prejudice, which was Mulligan’s first screen role. *3 was 18.1 walked into that whole experience pretty young, pretty fresh, and Ros was one of the first people I met on the project. I idolized her—I still do. She was just this graceful beauty I’d seen on television, on Foyle’s War and Wives and Daughters. I’d seen her do her villain turn in Die Another Drg;. so when I met her in real life, I was terrified.” But the f2 weeks of filming Pride & Prejudice turned out to be a kind of enchantment for the young actresses. “Ros was just unbelievably warm from the very first day and really embraced me as a little Sister on that whole job, and kind of guided me through it,” Mulligan recalls. “It was an amazing summer, sort of an extraordinary experience none of us have repeated since. She was my big sister for the whole summer.”
Edgar Wright, who directed Rosamund in the dystopian madcap comedy The World’s End—which featured Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as middle-aged men going on a pub crawl—saw that she “had really good comic timing, and that she was a great comedic actress as
well as a dramatic actress. She came in to read [for The World’s End] with the rest of the cast, mostly made up of comic actors, while she was heavily pregnant with her first child, and she was amazing. It was a no-brainer in terms of wanting Rosamund to play this part.”
Wight was also impressed with how willing she was to do the demanding fight choreography involved. “She’s really good at the choreography, you know, really wanted to do all of her own stunts all the time and was disappointed when finally a stunt double had to step in.” Filming Gone Girl was a particularly grueling experience, given Fincher’s penchant for re-shooting: “I spent more time in front of the camera on that film than in my entire career to date, because he’s shooting five to six hours of footage a day, and over a hundred days shooting—that mounts up,” Pike says. They shot the scene 36 times in which Rosamund slits the throat of .Neil Patrick Harris (as her savior/captor, Desi Collings). The set had to be remade for each take; think of the 36 showers they had to take, to wash the fake blood off.
“I told them to rehearse it for three days,” Fincher explained, “as we’re pumping five gallons of blood out of Desi’s throat.” They worked it out for a week, then filmed it, with ‘‘36 sheets, 450 gallons of blood, and 36 pairs of underpants” on hand.
“I feel like I’ve dealt with the Mnotaur and now I’m facing Medusa” is how Pike describes having lived through a David Fincher movie and now being presented with the thrilling challenges of stardom.
“What’s lovely about her,” Fincher says, “is she’s unquenchingly curious—that’s the greatest tiling an actor can have. She comes across on-screen as the way she is in real life—a kind of approachability that people who are genetically blessed usually don’t [have]. They’ve seen a lot; they’ve heard a lot of opening lines. She’s someone who wants to get into the mud with you, but there’s no room in the mosh pit for her pedestal. If she sees you’re giving her contribution its due, she’s there for you. She will explore. She’s game.”
One of the biggest p'essures facing any actor after a blockbuster film is what happens next. (“It’s not the film—it’s the announcement of the film that everyone pays attention to,” Pike says.) But, for Rosamund, her second pregnancy has pre-empted all that. "It's been a great protective shield from having to make a decision, because the next thing that comes won’t be a film.”
As for the kind of role she’d like to take on next, Rosamund s%s, “I’m hoping that something will just become blindingly clear, and it’ll just be a part that I have to play. What I’d really like is for David Fincher to just ring up and say, ‘Are you ready for Round Two?’ ”
40 he’s really good at her business,” says Cj Paul Giamatti, who worked with Rosamund on Barney’s Version (based on Canadian writer Mordecai Richler’s novel of the
same name). When asked what qualities make Rosamund Pike star material, Giamatti answered, “She’s uniquely, strangely beautiful, and there’s a certain mystery to her beauty, and that has a lot to do with being a movie star.” Giamatti commented on the differences between American and English actors. “I think the English have a different approach to acting in general,” he notes. “They have a longer tradition with it and are more focused on being actors rather than being celebrities. She can be very English—very no-nonsense in a wonderful, stiff-upper-lip way.” But Rosamund is not a Masterpiece Theatre idea of an Englishwoman. She loves the words “crap” and “stuff.” She’s athletic, funny, outspoken, and she’s been in a relationship these past six years with a man 18 years her senior.
Robie Uniacke remains something of a mystery man because Rosamund won’t talk about her family or allow photographs to be taken of them, but he’s been tantalizingly described as a “mathematical researcher.” He’s a bibliophile who owned a celebrated bookshop in London, and he’s been married twice before and has children from those two earlier marriages. (His first wife was Emma Howard, daughter of the late Earl of Carlisle; his second wife was Rose Batstone, an interior designer, now married to David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter films and son of the late Elizabeth Taylor’s onetime favorite manager.)
When Rosamund first met Robie, they had “this wonderful thing of two flats very close, which meant you could do these great sorts of romantic things. I could cook something and send it over in a taxi, and it would arrive and still be hot. Just sort of amusing things like that.” They are doing a good job trying to stay domestic and sane, even while having to ride the tiger of Gone Girl and Rosamund's increasing fame.
A raffishly handsome guy, Uniacke looks like a cross between Sam Shepard and Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Rosamund has described him as “the most interesting person” she’s ever met, a “clever partner who’s got a very astute mind and is very, very well read and articulate. The quality I most admire about him is he sees the value in anonymity. ”
They fell in love at Stonehenge.
Rosamund explains: “I bumped into a friend of mine, who was buying oranges, and I said, ‘Oh are you cooking?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m going to the summer solstice at Stonehenge.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘Well, it’s the one night of the year that you can get Close to the stones because nowadays they rope them off’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s incredible.’ ”
She decided to go but wondered whom she might ask to go with her. She suddenly thought of Robie, whom she’d just met. “He’s up for adventure,” she thought. So they set out from London in her car, which seemed to have “a sort of Druid feel about it, being green and rather sort of elfin in shape.” But almost everything went wrong. Near Stonehenge, the car broke down. They pulled into a garage and decided to “do a runner and walk to Stonehenge and pick up the car at four in the morning.” (The car was towed back to London, where it sat in her mechanic’s garage for six years. ) Nonetheless, they stayed up till the early hours of the morning to watch the sun rise over Stonehenge, “but on that particular morning,” she recalls, “because of cloud cover, the sun didn’t really rise. It just sort of got light, and everyone’s outside of the ring, then charging through the portals when the sun comes up. So, now there are people in full Druid costume when suddenly out from the robes came these smartphones.”
On the whole, though, she’s managed to keep her private life ... well, private, despite public revelations of her first two, ill-starred romances. (Her two-year Oxford romance with actor Simon Woods, who played Mr. Bingley in Pride & Prejudice, ended, and in 2012, Woods married Burberry’s creative director, Christopher Bailey. Director Joe Wight and Pike were later engaged for a time, but his sudden cancellation of their wedding was well noted in the English press.) However, Carey Mulligan has observed, “What I love is that people don’t know [Rosamund]. She chooses not to let people know about her personal life. She promotes the work and that gives her such integrity. She’s completely free of associations to other things when she’s in a role.”
On my last night in London, I took Rosamund and Robie to Here Lies Love, David Byrne’s musical, which is set in a disco and recounts the mad Saga of Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos. Rosamund was pining to see the show, which had just come to London. In it the audience participates by following the actors in a kind of conga line along several movable stages, and there was Rosamund, four weeks before giving birth to her second child (a boy), enthusiastically boogying and raising the roof with the rest of the crowd.
After the play, she and Robie accompanied me to a cab idling behind the National Theatre, on the banks of the Thames. As they walked away, the last thing I saw of Rosamund was the back of her head. You really do notice the back of her head, as in the beginning of Gone Girl. It isn’t hard to imagine that she might soon be facing us and clutching an Oscar with a steady English hand. It was just a thought—and then she was gone.
ON THE COVER
Rosamund Pike wears a gown by Donna Karan New York; earrings by Harry Winston. Hair products by Kiehl's. Makeup products by Charlotte Tilbury. Nail enamel by L'Oreal Paris. Hair by Christiaan. Makeup by Charlotte Tilbury. Manicure by Lorraine Griffin.
Set design byjack Flanagan. Produced on location by 10-4 Inc. Styled byjessica Diehl. Photographed exclusively for V.F. by Mario Testino in London. For details, go to vf.com/credits.
[Source: Vanity Fair USA, February 2015. P.80-87,136-137. VANITY FAIR IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF ADVANCE MAGAZINE PUBLISHERS INC. COPYRIGHT © 2015 CONDÉ NAST. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]