Rosamund Pike plays an antihero for the ages in I Care a Lot.
You might say that Rosamund Pike specializes in defiantly unconventional characters. Who cares about likable when you can be interesting? In 2014, Pike netted her first Academy Award nomination for her role as Amy Dunne, the vengeful, scheming antihero at the center of David Fincher’s Gone Girl. Now comes Marla Grayson, the cutthroat caregiver at the cold, cold heart of the darkly comedic, deliciously indecent thriller I Care a Lot, written and directed by J Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed).Marla is an outwardly charming grifter whose career as a court-appointed conservator to the elderly gives her clever cover to bleed her clients financially dry. But Marla and her partner (Eiza González) find their scheme under threat when they take on a new charge, Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest). An underworld businessman (Peter Dinklage) takes an interest in Marla’s designs on Jennifer and sends a lawyer (Chris Messina) with a windfall offer that she really should not refuse.“J Blakeson, he thinks that everybody, under the right circumstances, has the capacity for wrongdoing,” Pike explains. “He’s peopled his movie with a cast of pretty unsavory characters, which is a relief, really, because that’s how Marla is allowed to be the antiheroine that she is. You might not be rooting for her, but there isn’t really anyone else to root for. You might as well grudgingly go on the ride with her and admire her tenacity.”Throughout her career, Pike has displayed a tenacity of her own. After being rejected from drama school, she forged her own path to onscreen success. In 2002, she broke through as a Bond girl in Die Another Day. From there, she began amassing major credits across genres, from the period drama Pride & Prejudice to the big-budget action thriller Jack Reacher. In recent years, she’s played several towering real-life figures, including Ruth Williams, the British national who became Botswana’s first lady in 1966 (A United Kingdom); war correspondent Marie Colvin (A Private War); and Nobel Prize-winning physicist and chemist Marie Curie (Radioactive).In short, the actor’s compass points toward provocative, forceful female characters who thwart easy interpretation. “It can make me emotional saying it, but I do know how fortunate I am to be getting these roles,” says Pike, who’s performance in I Care a Lot has earned her a Golden Globe nomination. “I do know that, and I marvel at it still.”
Krista Smith spoke to Rosamund Pike for her podcast Present Company.Krista Smith: This character, Marla Grayson, she’s amazing. I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen a female protagonist so morally bankrupt driving a narrative. What were your thoughts when you got the script?
It’s also an incredibly physical performance, and it culminates in an unforgettable scene between you and Dianne Wiest. What was it like working with her on this film?
RP: On the first day that we were working together, I knocked at her trailer door. I wanted to introduce myself and say how excited I was to be doing this with her. Then we were straight into shooting the scene. She was so surprising, her delivery was so unexpected. She had this wonderful humorous robustness to the way she played the victim, which didn’t make it easy for Marla. Marla’s game was raised because of her opponents, really, in every scene. Each of those actors made the negotiation tricky by being surprising and original and deft with their delivery. And all of that makes it fun.
Gone Girl was such a giant success. Looking back now, what impact did it have for you?
RP: It was a game changer for me. For a start, I had more hours in front of a camera making that movie than I’d ever had in my entire career before that point. You learn a lot, you grow up, and you practice a lot, literally, because one of the things that Fincher spends the budget of his movies on is camera time. We shot for 105 days on that film, which is an astonishing length of time. I learned a huge amount from him, things that I still use to this day, lessons that people often don’t think to teach. I’d love to work with him again. I’ve never come across another like him.
Watch I Care a Lot
on Netflix now.
Listen to Rosamund Pike on Present Company now.