If you were one of the many who didn’t know Rosamund Pike by name last year, chances are you probably do now. As the titular “Gone Girl” in David Fincher’s chilling adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s hit novel (Flynn also penned the script), Pike has been everywhere promoting the film and wowing everyone who made the thriller the top film of the weekend’s box office in the US. The 35-year-old Brit made her onscreen debut as a Bond girl in 2002’s “Die Another Day” and has since gone on to appear in a number of high profile films including Joe Wright’s “Pride & Prejudice,” “Wrath of the Titans” and the Tom Cruise vehicle “Jack Reacher.” Despite all this activity, a plum leading role has evaded the actress until now. “Gone Girl” afforded Pike her first true opportunity to show the world her range — and as anyone who’s seen the film can tell you, her range is pretty staggering.
The below interview is spoiler-heavy, so if you haven’t read the book or seen the film, we’d advise you to bookmark this page and revisit when you discover “Gone Girl’s” big reveal for yourself.
Having not read the book, my jaw was open for the last hour of the movie. So congrats?
[Laughs] That’s really exciting to hear. That’s an experience I can never have. I can never know what it’s like to not know what’s coming.
Had you read the book before coming across the script?
I hadn’t read the book before talking to Fincher, so the whole thing came together which is actually probably good. If I had read the book, as an actress, you might have thought “Oh, I wonder if they’re going to make this into a movie?” And then I might have been hungry for it. And in fact, I heard that Fincher wanted to talk to me about something, and then I heard it was this and then I read it and the giddy cocktail of the two combined. I read it, devoured it while I was speaking to him. So I would read one-third of the book, then have a two-hour conversation with him.
He watched you read it?
Kind of. Via a Skype. He would say “Where are you now?” and “How far have you gotten?” We started to communicate and I found him very easy to talk to, I found him penetrating and his mind is obviously so sharp. It’s such a damn relief. He doesn’t deal with any of the bullshit that anyone else deals with. He’s going to look at you and see who you are. He’s not going to be skewed by anything he’s read. He trusts his own instincts more than anyone I know, and that is very very valuable in this profession.
His instincts were spot on with regards to your casting.
I know. It’s disturbing. I said to him on the phone, “You’ve got this uncanny impression that you know I’ve got this part in me and I feel I have. I don’t know how the hell you know that.”
What did he say?
He just smiled one of his enigmatic smiles.
That’s it? I’m sure he must have told you since the reason why.
I think he needed Amy to have that — I don’t know, I think I’ve been quite hard to decipher and he felt that, too. He had seen some of my work and liked it, but he wasn’t really able to pinpoint what my skill set was as an actor to really say, “she does this and she does that” — and that intrigued him because Amy has to have that. She’s so protean. Or maybe he just saw a sociopath.
[Laughs] Were you confident that you had the skill set required before embarking on the project?
I know I’ve got loads that has never been tapped. That’s all. You spend 35 years on the planet and you’ve been through some shit and you feel there is a lot of ripe stuff ready to be channeled somewhere. It could be comedic, it could be romantic. This film is coinciding with the UK release of the film that I did called “What We Did On Our Holiday,” which is an improvised comedy where I’m a mother with three kids. So that was what I shooting when I started talking to David. I’m interested in this character and the narcissistic projections that we project onto the people that we meet. The idea that with Amy, she’s got such a fragile sense of self born of her, this slightly corrupt relationship with her parents where they’ve created a character based on her who is not really her, it’s an improved version of her. I mean, imagine. You’ve got your parents who say, “We’re going to turn you into a book, honey, but we’re just going to make you a little bit better than you really are.” That thing where you’ve screwed up the baseball game at your school — “We’re just going to make sure this kid in the book gets picked for X team,” or whatever. So, that’s a mirror held up to you of everything you could be and everything you failed to be. That’s gonna make you narcissistic at your core. It’s usually someone with a very fragile hold of who they are and they need that constant reflection of someone else and that’s what Amy demands in a relationship. She needs a person who appreciates her brilliance. It’s very repellent in some ways, but more common than people think.
Did you relate at all to Amy before learning of the big twist?
I remember talking to David and saying “I don’t know if I’m right for this girl” and “I know I’m being asked to like her and I can see what’s admirable about her.”
This is before you learned about her actual intensions?
Yeah, obviously there was this slick woman. I said, “It’s too good to be true, I don’t buy it. I know I’m being asked to like her, but I don’t trust her.” And he just sort of said, “Keep reading.”
[Laughs] And that’s when you got her?
And then there’s a sense, when you get to her truth, that you could relax with the book and that’s generally how I feel with people. I can take if you’re an asshole, I can take it, but I need to know if that’s your truth. I need to know that’s you and you might be an interesting asshole. I don’t mind all assholes. [Laughs] That could look terrible in print.
I’ll be sure to include your laugh.
[Laughs] You’ve got to know you’re getting to the core of who someone is. You can work out whether you can go on the journey with them or be friends with them or whatever.
I’m guessing you didn’t really gain the weight, or did you?
So you did shoot the film in order?
No, we didn’t shoot it in order. I started with some of the heavy stuff, but then I had two weeks off to lose it and then I had to gain it again.
Oh my god.
I had Christmas break, two weeks to gain it again. And then I had time to lose it again. It’s like turning your body into a chemistry lab. It’s wasn’t like 30 pounds that we’ve seen people do in the past.
But it was very apparent.
Yeah, it’s like you’re on a sugar high or you’re hungry. It’s another emotional stress of the job, I think. It’s not entirely healthy.
Before your casting was announced, there was so much mania surrounding the role of Amy. What I found so interesting was that there was none surrounding the casting of Ben [Affleck].
Mania–you mean the expectations?
The trades just made it into this competition. When your casting was finally reported, we’d hear how you “beat out” other high profile actresses for the part.
I don’t think that’s true. I don’t actually think the ‘beating’ thing was actually how it was. They like the story of competitive women I think.
To me it speaks to the disparity of really juicy female roles in Hollywood. You don’t hear this kind of talk when it comes to male characters.
No, that’s a very good point. I think probably the image of all these vicious actresses that are trying to beat each other out of the way is an image they want to feed to the public. It’s funny, someone will try to galvanize me into fighting for a part by saying “so-and-so wants this part,” but that never works for me. It has to be a through line. I will go for a role but it’s never within the interest of elbowing someone else out of the way. I don’t really think like that. It’s very singular. I’ll be disappointed as anyone not to get something and to face rejection and all of that. I’ve had all of that quite frequently. But, it’s never been about, ‘Oh I’ve got to get this instead of her this time.’ That’s never the motivation. But people try to use it to incite your competitive instinct. I’ve been with a director. I know how directors work. They need someone that will work with their vision. It’s not about a performing monkey in a ring and who does the best trick. And that’s why we have no control. And it’s tough because that’s what David says. About “House of Cards,” he says there’s no dearth of brilliant actors who could be in this series. There are so many brilliant actors, but it’s the one that will make sense of the character. That’s what is hard for actors to learn and accept. “Why didn’t I get it, what was wrong with me?” It’s not what was wrong with you, it was what was right about somebody else. I’ve gotten a better perspective as I’ve gotten older, you see.
Would you have been ready to embody Amy if the role had come to you five years ago?
Five years ago, maybe. When I was 25, no. But, I think I’ve had some big, pretty challenging roles on stage in the UK that stretched me a lot as an actress. So, I have been ready. But I don’t think I would have taken on this role with any sort of success if it hadn’t been for Fincher. He’s a great navigator. It’s very nerve-wracking. You’re trying to slide down this razor of all these different — you don’t want to go into anything that’s camp, anything that’s unconvincing. You’ve got to know where she’s coming from. There can’t be anything superficial about it and yet it’s extreme. Brilliantly extreme. [Laughs] You’ve got to navigate this razor without cutting yourself open. It’s fun but it’s daunting. There is that feeling. You read that character in the book and you think, how would one embark on this, because in the book obviously you’ve got an internal monologue. You can get inside her head all the time.
Albeit a constructed one.
But then, that’s the brilliance of Gillian’s script. She’s managed to take it out of the internal monologue and get you to understand these characters. I think what she’s done with Nick Dunne is amazing. Ben is amazing in this. The textures of that man are brilliant.
Going back to the trades, when your casting was announced, many people in North America pegged you as this unknown actress. I found that odd, considering all you’ve done. What was that like to be considered an ingenue in North America?
I was reading an interview with Kelly McDonald where she says, “I’ve been up and coming for so long, when the fuck am I gonna come?” [Laughs]
Did you feel the same way?
No, but I did hear people say that. But in some ways it gives you a sort of freedom. It means no one has a read on me. I can surprise people. Then someone from Taiwan today said, “Everyone knows you from the Bond film, is this going to surprise people?” I was like “I fucking hope so.” [Laughs]
That’s the idea: If you’ve got any fan base, you’ve got to surprise them. But I guess I’m not someone who is in the tabloids, and I don’t have such a spectacular relationship with a high profile person that puts me in US Weekly or anything, so I guess to the general public, I have to remember that people aren’t going to movies as much as they used to. I suppose some of us wonder that all of these actors that people know, you think do they go to the movies or are their lives stories?
Are you ready for that type of attention?
Do you think that’s going to happen?
Of course it’s gonna happen!
But, I’ve always been immune so far. I’ve been in pretty big movies.
You must have known this would happen given the role and Fincher’s involvement. It happened to Rooney Mara.
Did that happen? Did she get more famous?
[Laughs] Of course!
Right, right. But I have been in movies that a lot of people have seen.
Yeah but you’re the lead in this, you’re the “Gone Girl.”
So it’s different. Yes, well maybe I’m not prepared then. [Laughs] Maybe I better get home soon.
I find that fascinating that none of this crossed your mind when you accepted the role.
No, it didn’t.
Because your life is about to change.
Do you really think so?
Of course it is!
[Laughs] I know, actually, because I’m about to have my second baby. Yes, I don’t really know. I kind of have faith. I’ve lived in the same city all my life and I have faith that I can continue my everyday life.
You should probably hire an assistant if you don’t already have one.
That’s good advice. I definitely need somebody. I definitely need some assistant somewhere down the line. It’s a bit chaotic. If only I could channel a bit of Amazing Amy and her meticulousness. That would be very useful. Amy had this office at home in the Dunne household and every drawer had lined up matching pencils and people probably think I’m like that. I know I can project something that seems very calm and ordered, but they assume that’s like me. So far from the truth. It will be interesting. It will be an interesting ride. I’ll be a new mom. After playing the most unmaternal figure of the year. I just want people to go see the film at this point! I just want people to go out there. And at the moment, there’s such an attitude of “Have you seen it?” and I want people to go see it. I want people to go on the ride with it. Like you did, without knowing what was coming. That’s what you want.
The really exciting thing is to be part of David Fincher’s life’s work. I went to see him, we were in London, and he did a talk at BAFTA as a retrospective. I thought people will be discussing this film because it’s his. The lifespan of this film is going to be way beyond this release because it’s his work. And that’s pretty exciting because it’s worth talking about. The story is so good. And all of us–all the actors–were saying at the premiere that we might never have this again. This moment where there is this tide of anticipation, and also appreciation, it seems. I don’t read the reviews, but I’m aware that we seem to be getting lot of good will. I can it see on the faces of the executives at Fox. There’s something in the air. I’m not totally immune to picking something out. I have a lot of friends in the UK who are not in the industry and I’m getting texts from them saying, “You seem to have done something good. What’s going on?” So, it’s touching people who are not in the industry. And I realize these things don’t come around often so I’m certainly enjoying that, just being part of that.