This month, the gorgeous Rosamund Pike stretches her comic acting muscles in The World's End, the new pub-crawl comedy from the team behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. If this is what the end of the world looks like, bring it on...
Photographs by Andrew Woffinden styling by Gareth Scourfield
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"I hope it doesn't shrink when it gets wet." That's not a line from the script of a premium-rate phone service, though the way Rosamund Pike recites it down the line to Esquire, the conversation does start to feel rather like a costly kind of telephone call.
It is, in fact, just one of the double entendres former Bond girl Pike had to deliver in 2002's Die Another Day, the role that launched her in film. "And I did this click on the [final] 't'," the 34-year-old Londoner explains, imbuing the humble consonant with a sexiness not customarily associated with the letter that comes after "s". "The editors said they used to replay it, they loved it so much."
Pike, then, brings a touch of mischief to cut-glass RP, as well as to her elegant, English looks. It is this addition of spice that has delivered her from the fate of previous Bond girls. She's spirited and smart (she read English at Oxford before embarking on her acting career) and she has brought brains as well as beauty to supporting roles in An Education (2009) and Made in Dagenham (2010), while in Johnny English Reborn (2011) she discovered a winning comedic streak.
Now, in The World's End, she more than holds her own against the cream of British male comic talent. The film, out this month, is Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's final entry in the trilogy that began with the brilliant Shaun of the Dead (2004), in which zombies invade suburban north London, and continued three years later with the raucous buddy movie Hot Fuzz, which was essentially Bad Boys in the West Country.
The World's End sees five friends, including Pegg, Nick Frost and Martin Freeman, reunite in their hometown after 20 years away, to finish a near mythical pub crawl from their youths, only for an alien invasion to intervene. Pike plays Sam, the sister of Freeman's character and once — briefly, during their schooldays — romantically linked with Pegg's character.
"It's been great," says Pike of the experience of working on this very British blockbuster. "To be made to laugh is one of the greatest things on Earth and to be in the company of people who do that the best — like Simon and Nick — is the best. It's good for the soul."
The World's End is the first of two films Pike is making with Pegg. The next, Hector and the Search for Happiness, again sees them romantically entangled. There's a bedroom scene, she says, but it's played for laughs: a far cry from the romp that first brought her to our attention, in Die Another Day, in which Pierce Brosnan's Bond seduced Pike's Miranda Frost in a double bed with swan-shaped bed posts carved out of ice. C'mon, give those guys a break: it was 2002.
But then just as Bond has evolved, so has Pike. She claims she was merely "a scruffy student" back then, but that didn't stop her stripping down to just her high heels for the West End play Hitchcock Blonde in 2003. "To be completely honest, I had missed the detail that she had to be naked in the script," she relays.
"I really applaud my younger self for doing it."
Pike is similarly coquettish about her Esquire shoot. "What I find sexy is when someone's having fun and able to look right back at you," she says, with a kind of kick to the enunciation that suggests we aren't just talking about photo shoots any more either.
The World's End is out on 19 July
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[Source: Esquire UK, August 2013, P.112-119]