By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Rosamund Pike co-stars with Tom Cruise in the action thriller “Jack Reacher,” based on the popular Lee Child book series.
Pike unknowingly was pregnant during filming, which created a bit of a challenge for both the British actress and the wardrobe department. But the former Bond girl suggests carrying a few extra pounds during filming may have actually humanized her character.
As Helen Rodin, she plays a defense attorney who takes on case in which she defends a sniper who is accused of killing several innocent pedestrians in a shooting spree. She teams up with Reacher, an ex-Army investigator who discovers the shooting incident was more than just a random act of violence and sets forth to find out who was behind it and why.
Pike, now the proud mother of an eight-month-old son, Solo, with businessman Robie Uniacke, recently discussed working with Cruise and the violent backdrop of the film.
Q: How was it working with Tom Cruise?
Pike: It was great. For a start, he’s the legendary movie star who has created all these kind of iconic characters you have grown up with and then you get behind that and you meet a guy who is interested in you. It’s a very lovely quality. He kind of makes you feel relaxed and empowered, rather than diminished and someone that is as famous as he is could easily make you feel smaller in his presence and he actually makes you feel kind of larger. It’s a gift that certain people have.
Q: Did he ask you questions?
Pike: Yeah, he’s interested in who you are, and the surprising thing to is if you ask him a direct question, you get a direct answer back. Sometimes with a star, you can feel there’s a kind of no-fly zone and sort of a protective shield. With Tom, you don’t actually feel that.
Q: Did you have to audition to know if you and Tom had chemistry?
Pike: Yeah. I never mind auditioning, I think auditioning is a good idea, because it means when you take your first step on set on the first day, you know that everybody has already signed off on you. If you haven’t auditioned for something, which also happens, you can feel like you are being scrutinized and judged from Day One. I much prefer to audition and get that scrutiny out of the way.
Q: Tom does his own stunts. So did you pick up some of that fearlessness from him?
Pike: Yeah, I left the movie thinking I want to say I’m the only actress who is able to do all my own driving stunts. You are not talking about a guy who has the kind of hubris that makes him want to do stunts. He doesn’t just drive the car; he tunes the car. He adjusts the tire pressure. He looks at the chassis. He makes the call based on all kinds of things like road conditions. He’s an expert.
Q: Are you a perfectionist?
Pike: Yeah. I think most actors are really. You rarely meet one who is not. (The job) lends itself to that sort of thing because you care so much. You want the movie to be as good as it can be.
Q: Are you opposed to the violence in the movie? How did you feel about it?
Pike: I don’t think our movie really glamorizes violence. What I find interesting about the character of Jack Reacher, especially as Tom plays him, is that there’s this sort of weariness behind the eyes, a kind of resignation to the fact that he has to go through this again. I don’t think I’ve seen it in a Tom Cruise movie before. Just before he takes out these five guys, he sort of looks at them, and says, “Remember, you wanted this.” Somebody else would have delivered that line kind of like an action hero. But Tom says it in a way that’s like I’m not sure I want to put five more guys in the hospital. So the violence is really linked to the character and the plot.
Q: The Pittsburgh premiere was cancelled following the Connecticut tragedy. Do you agree it was the appropriate thing to do?
Pike: Yeah. It was going to be Jack Reacher Day in Pittsburgh, but unfortunately, our movie opens with a sniper attack in a town center and it’s very uncomfortable. It is very much a horrific sequence in the movie, and these are definitely the bad guys that need to be brought to justice. But it did just feel completely inappropriate. Obviously, we were devastated.
Q: Was it difficult shooting this while being pregnant?
Pike: It was only because the film was set over three days and we filmed over four months. So trying to look the same was tough. There was a little bit of pressure. The camera helped. I just tried to sort of eat well and nourish the child and not hit the chocolate doughnuts. Because I am quite long in the body, the baby sort of had a lot of space. He didn’t just kind of pop out.
Q: Were you pregnant when you signed for the film?
Pike: No. I found out while we were just about to begin and Tom was amazingly supportive as a producer and as a friend, and our other producer Don Granger and Chris McQuarrie. Paramount (executives) were really behind me. Some studios probably wouldn’t have been. They showed that kind of warmth and grace and generosity. It was good, really good.
Q: Surprisingly, there’s no love scene between you and Tom in the movie?
Pike: It’s interesting, because Reacher, in the books, is a womanizer. He loves women and he sleeps around quite a lot. It’s not something that (director Chris) McQuarrie has chosen to focus on, in his first film anyway, which is interesting. We wanted chemistry, no doubt about it, and I think we had a very natural chemistry.
Q: Would you return for a sequel?
Pike: If they can’t get anyone else, they might bring Helen back. That definitely won’t be a problem. I would love to work with Tom again.
Q: Do you feel like a princess on the red carpet?
Pike: There is definitely the moment for that. When you step out with Tom Cruise, there’s a certain license to look your best. It’s an exciting moment.
Q: As a new mom, how will that change the dynamic of your career? Are you going to work less?
Pike: I read this thing that English women talk about life/work/balance and that means we basically never achieve it. In England, we are always struggling to keep a number of balls in the air, like a juggler. Now is the time I can work, because (my son is) small and not in school. This is the first time I’ve left him for a few days. It’s hard but you make it work. I also am lucky not to have to work 9 to 5. My hours are flexible and my son can also come to work with me. I am very privileged in that regard.
Q: Are you going to work in America?
Pike: Who knows? There’s never a grand plan of the way that you work.
Q: What is your next project?
Pike: I don’t know, I just finished on two nights ago, a comedy from the people who made “Shaun of the Dead,” and the film is now a third in a trilogy, it’s called “The World’s End.” It’s with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan. It’s a great film to sort of leave motherhood and go back to work with. It’s been fun.
Q: As a famous film actress, do you think that you have to look your best all the time?
Pike: I am not sure that’s a requirement of the industry or whether it’s the fact that one is exposed to one’s image so much that it kind of screws with one’s head. I think the line is blurred as to whether it’s an industry requirement, or whether it’s something that comes upon someone because of the demands of the job. Whether it’s self-reflection or self-awareness breeds a kind of concern. In this movie, I actually really like the way I look, because I am carrying a bit of weight because I was pregnant. I actually think it really works for the character. (Getting heavier) is probably something I wouldn’t have done. I wouldn’t have chosen to add a few pounds for the character, but it probably makes the character a little bit more believable.