Can you remember the first time you met your best girlfriend? Personally, this kind of close female friendship has been one of the most comforting, unwavering, and deep loves I’ve experienced. Perhaps the ultimate ‘real’ love story. I think you always know the moment it commences – that point where you lock eyes over an absolutely certified agreement of opinion, or when a bout of mild hysteria ensues over an in-joke. You decide, as the warm glow of sisterly love spreads over you, that this one human, out of all the billions out there populating our planet, is for you. And in that moment it’s just good to be alive, making friends. The world needs more relationships like this. The world needs more girlfriends.
Rosamund Pike’s best girlfriend is Charlotte. “When Charlotte turned up at my secondary school, it was like life changed,” Pike tells me. It’s not until recently, for this issue in fact, that they’ve ever talked about how important their friendship has been and continues to be. “She was so important because suddenly there was a kindred spirit who was fun and adventurous. She was different. She was rebellious. We’ve since taken it in turns to be rebellious. I felt like such an odd one until she turned up.” says Pike.
Pike is strikingly beautiful. Her silhouette makes you double take and then look again. The quintessential English Rose she’s so beautiful that we’re stopped mid-conversation, in the cafe we meet in on North London’s Holloway Road, by two women who just couldn’t go without telling her this fact. But it’s Pike’s inquisitive nature, her natural intelligence, and general gravitas, that makes her so attractive.
Loveliness shines from her in such an impressionable way, along with that quiet and polished strength that’s so visible when she acts: the kind stoicism of Jane Bennet in Pride & Prejudice (2005), the sinister, beguiling, and calculating Amy in Gone Girl (2014), the double-crossing Bond Girl in Die Another Day (2002) indeed, former UK Prime Ministerial hopeful Ed Miliband publicly called for her to be named the first female James Bond.
In her latest release, A United Kingdom the true story of unassuming office worker Ruth Williams Pike plays a young woman whose life is transformed when she meets and falls in love with Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana. Starting in 1940s London, the film unfolds as Ruth and her Prince move back to his home country. The racial, political and societal tensions of everyday life at this time, entrenched in both the UK and Botswana, make their marriage almost impossible.
“It’s a story about a woman finding her voice. She would have interested me less if she had been politicized already. It was the fact that falling in love can be a political act. She suddenly was awoken to a whole world of bigotry and racism that she didn’t know about. She had to find the language as the anger surged in her, and that’s what excited me.”
“I think that you have to come by your politics honestly and immediately, and you have to feel them, just like her. It comes from the face-to-face, the personal connections,” explains Pike.
It’s not a story we typically hear: a white person longing to feel acceptance in a black world. But it’s exactly this juxtaposition that drew Pike to the role. A similarly unconventional character drew her to the soon-to-be released Entebbe, the story of the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight carrying 248 passengers from Tel Aviv to Paris that was taken over by two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and two Germans, one a female school teacher from the leftist Revolutionary Cells whom Pike plays.
The role of Amy in Gone Girl was instinctively something Pike had to do. Especially since the film was in the hands of modern day thrill master David Fincher. Pike was filming at the time in Glasgow, staying in a small rental with a bad Wi-Fi connection (she never stays in a hotel, unless she has to) and because of this went to a local gym to do her Skype calls. It was here on a call while reciting Amy’s lines about being held captive, sodomized and shaved completely engrossed in the character that someone popped out of nowhere behind her, terrified, and tried to explain that the gym was about to close. As Pike frantically tried to persuade this woman that she was not insane, Fincher shouted down the line: “Your therapy session is over.”
Pike’s intention was always to be an actress, even though she was bright enough to study English Literature at Oxford. “I just thought I’d spend three years thinking,” explains Pike. “Having an articulate voice is very important as an actress, which is sometimes hard to learn. All I ask is that people tell me the truth.”
Maybe it was a background studying literature that drew her to one of the most beloved classics of all time, the story of ultimate female companionship, of falling in love, of the paths women have to navigate in society Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (2005). Pike played the role of eldest sister, Jane Bennet. “People say Jane is boring, but you have to take issue with that.” Pike asserts, “She’s someone who’s chosen to go through life looking for the best in people. It’s not that Jane doesn’t see the bad, but she focuses on the good. I was struck by her subtlety, and the issue of what happens when your pride is hurt. While I was playing her I felt so nice, it was relaxing and a really happy time.”
We talk about navigating paths as women many that have not become much less bumpy since the novel was written. Especially so for a woman in the spotlight. Google ‘Rosamund Pike’ and it drags countless headlines about exes, her relationships, and all the other standard intensely personal stuff that’s written about you if you happen to be famous and a female. I ask Pike what she thinks and feels about being a woman in this world, and in the film industry.
“This is my year when I want to bring back the word ‘Spinster’ as something positive. I was talking to a fascinating woman while filming Entebbe who turned 80 on set, via her companion because she didn’t speak much English. I said to her, ‘Do you have a family? Do you have children? And he said to me ‘No, she’s a Spinster,’ but without any sense of prejudice. It was just a fact. And I thought, well there you go. A man has been allowed to be a bachelor: glamorous, fancy free, youthful, and spirited. Why can’t there be glamour in ‘Spinster’? Why can’t we confidently say, ‘I’m a Spinster’? To say it with a bit of a flirt to it, as something seductive. I think there’s the next magazine issue. The Spinster Issue.”
Written by Jenny Cusack
Photographer: Julien T. Hamon
Stylist: Francesca Turner
Hair: Davide Barbieri
Makeup: Anastasia Borovik
Styling Assistant: Allison Yolles
Location: Town Hall Hotel, London