Rosamund Pike: ‘I’m not comfortable with the feeling of a lot of fame and no respect’

Rosamund Pike: ‘I’m not comfortable with the feeling of a lot of fame and no respect’

In the Amazon Prime Video movie, her character Marla uses loopholes in the law to rob her vulnerable senior citizen clients blind. She finally meets her match, however, when she discovers her newest ward, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), is not a little old lady with no living relatives but someone with secret ties to a ruthless mobster Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) who is determined to
punish Marla for her mistake.

“There’s a reason Marla dupes people so well – because we rarely see Marla for who she is,” Rosamund explains. “I also got to play with a bit of that when I made Gone Girl, in that Amy understands the power of perception; of having everyone around you think one thing about you when you know something else is true.”

Lest we think she is making the whole acting thing look a little too effortless, she insists that’s not the case. “Especially not when I’m stepping into an American role, because those actors in all my big confronting scenes were so good,” she says in her cut-glass English accent. “What’s really going through my head is, ‘What if Peter Dinklage thinks I’m shit?’ So, I’m constantly doing battle with my own fears and trying to look fierce.”

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“I’m constantly pushing myself to overcome fears, because I know that fear is the great enemy of the freedom I want, so it makes sense I’m always trying to confront those fears in my work.”

With her glacial beauty and blonde hair, Rosamund has been fighting both public and industry perceptions for most of her career. It began at 23, when she made her feature film debut as icy secret
agent Miranda Frost opposite Pierce Brosnan in the 007 movie, Die Another Day (2002).

“One of the things the Bond film made me understand was that I didn’t feel comfortable at all with that feeling of having a lot of fame and no respect,” she explains. “People are nice and complimentary to your face but you feel the underlying judgment; that I’m a flash in the pan.”

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Her solution was to return to the London theatre, garnering rave reviews for an erotic 2003 play ironically titled Hitchcock Blonde. “But even then a lot of Bond fans would be waiting outside the stage door for me every night,” she laments, “and I’d always feel like I was letting them down when I came out because I was just not the Bond girl they were expecting.“

Born in London, Rosamund Mary Elizabeth Pike was raised by her mother, Caroline – a concert violinist and opera singer – and her father Julian, also an opera singer. Their only child went to boarding school while they toured in operas around the world, but she’d get inspired whenever she joined them on the road during school holidays.

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“When I was nine or 10, I heard my mother in rehearsal for the opera, The Merry Widow,” she recalls. “The first sound you could hear of the character is her voice off-stage and it literally took my breath away because she came on and wasn’t my mother any more; she’d just become the Merry Widow!

“It was so powerful to me that somebody I knew so well could be somebody totally different and it makes me emotional just thinking about it now.” Her voice unexpectedly breaks and she adds almost sheepishly, “I’m sorry, I didn’t expect that to happen but I guess it’s a very powerful memory.“
At 16, Rosamund was accepted into the National Youth Theatre, and her performance as Juliet in the theatre’s staging of Romeo and Juliet caught the attention of a theatrical agent, who signed her.

“I am really drawn to characters who display tremendous courage and I think courage is a quality I admire almost more than anything else.”Credit:Dean Chalkley/Observer/eyevine/australscope

After being rejected from most of the UK’s big drama schools, she studied English Literature at Oxford University’s Wadham College and landed a spot in its production of The Taming of the Shrew. This took her on tours of the UK and Japan and was followed by a production of Macbeth.
After postponing her studies to take on theatre roles, she eventually received her honours degree during the Die Another Day film shoot at London’s Pinewood Studios. Over the next decade, she strived to balance acclaimed theatre roles with diverse films including Pride& Prejudice (2005) and Jack Reacher (2012), before obliterating all Bond Girl references in Gone Girl, which earned her a Best Actress Oscar and a Golden Globe nomination.

Rosamund has chosen not to be on screen for our Zoom meeting, but her avatar is a whimsical black-and-white drawing of a chic woman in Jackie O-style sunglasses, pulled-back fair hair and a feathery black top.

“It was a picture on the cup of a coffee I bought somewhere,” she says of the only image visible on screen during our interview. “I looked at it and thought, ‘Hey, that’s me!’ So, I made it my avatar.′

The hard-working actor is sitting in the Prague home she has shared with her partner of 11 years, Robie Uniacke, and their two sons: Solo, 8, and Atom, 6, for over a year.

When she landed a starring role in the upcoming TV series The Wheel of Time, based on Robert Jordan’s bestselling fantasy book series, she and Uniacke made the fortuitous decision to move their family to the Czech Republic for the duration of the shoot.

“I had a choice to do my shooting and be flying back and forth to London for weekends, but then COVID hit and thank goodness we had decided to have a European adventure and I’d put my children into school over here,” she says with relief.

“That’s why we stayed when the first pandemic wave happened. Then we resumed filming only to shut down again. But this is where my kids are at school, so this is home for now.”

The family is also linguistically diverse. Rosamund speaks some of the French and German she was
fluent in as a child and she’s studying Chinese to keep up with her partner, who is fluent, and her children, who are bilingual.

Is she hoping to understand what the rest of the family is saying about her at the dinner table? “No, I’ll never be that good,” she groans, then laughs as she adds, “but when I hear ‘mama’ come into their conversation, I know that I am up for discussion!”

Little is known about Robie Uniacke, who is 18 years her senior, but that’s the way Rosamund likes to keep it after her previous high-profile and doomed relationships with actor Simon Woods and Pride & Prejudice director Joe Wright were endlessly rehashed by tabloids.

Uniacke has been described as a “mathematical researcher” and the former owner of a celebrated bookshop in London. He has four children from two previous marriages but it feels impolite to ask Rosamund, who has never been married, if they’ve ever discussed getting hitched.

So, we shift to the requisite question about parenting during COVID. “Like every mother, we’ve had some wonderful opportunities this year to spend way more time with our children than in a regular year,” she eagerly responds.

“I’ll always treasure the fact that they were the ages they were during this strangest of years because it’s been incredibly rewarding, and I think we’ve all learnt a lot from each other.”

“I’ll always treasure the fact that they were the ages they were during this strangest of years because it’s been incredibly rewarding, and I think we’ve all learnt a lot from each other.”

In The Wheel of Time, Rosamund describes her character as a “guide”. “I’m not a big fan of fantasy but I was really transfixed by this, as it’s a whole world striving for balance between masculine and feminine energy; good and evil and black and white,” she elaborates with excitement.

“It’s a place where women are able to connect with a powerful energy in the earth’s energy fields that men cannot touch without going mad. I’ve learnt that often in fantasy, the key figure is the guide – like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings – so it was exciting to explore female power roles in this genre.”

Safe to say that when Rosamund Pike explores any power role, we’re all compelled to watch.

I Care a Lot is available to stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video from Friday, February 19.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale February 7. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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