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Actress Rosamund Pike Is Ready For Action

rosamunde_pike_dec2012.jpgRosamund Pike wonders what it would take to live off the grid. Like the title character in her new film, Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise, and adapted from the monumentally bestselling series by British author Lee Child, Pike finds an appeal in slipping out of modern, hectic, networked, over-scheduled everyday life, taking to the road with only a toothbrush in hand. The British actress gave birth to a son, Solo Uniacke, earlier this year, and she ponders, "If I wanted my son to be off the grid, what age do you have to start thinking about it?"

Fortunately for us, Pike and (the fittingly named) Solo haven't gone down the toothbrush-only path forged by Reacher, the enigmatic, stoic Lone Ranger and former military police investigator. Pike is decidedly on the grid, calling from London, her home and where she's currently doing stunt rehearsals for her next project, The World's End, from Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead fame. (She laughs as she says costar Simon Pegg urged her to mention that he "is the most awesome actor of his generation.")

Pike studied intensely for her role as Helen Rodin in Jack Reacher, delving into the complex world created by Child and the director, Christopher McQuarrie. Rodin is a young defense lawyer at odds with her powerful district attorney father, played by Richard Jenkins. She teams up with Cruise's Reacher to uncover an assassin who has killed several people in the middle of a city. To prepare, Pike read the famous Scopes trial lawyer Clarence Darrow's work and spent time with a female defense attorney. Her goal was to upend the clichéd woman-lawyer role that always looks "very polished." Pike wanted Rodin to be rough around the edges, to be struggling. As she says, "[Rodin] is a lawyer who's not fully in control."

If Rodin represents the law, Reacher represents vigilantism. His moral compass runs true, but only to himself. As Pike describes him, "He's a funny combination of being a very moral man and a very violent man." For Rodin, Reacher "is a conundrum. She calls herself a pacifist but starts to respect the brutality of this man." As the film progresses, "Reacher makes her think in completely fresh ways."

While Rodin and Reacher must work together in action-packed situations, there's no overt romantic plot. Pike says, "There's a lot of chemistry between our characters. It's like you're watching a relationship but the plot keeps getting in the way." She compares it to Alfred Hitchcock films where "you want to see the man and woman interacting and you don't even care if they get it on or not. You want to see them in the same room, that chemistry."

Rodin is a new type of role for Pike. American audiences were first introduced to her as Miranda Frost in the 2002 Bond film, Die Another Day, starring Pierce Brosnan as 007. From there, she went on to star in a panoply of prestigious British films, playing archetypal British roles such as Jane to Keira Knightley's Elizabeth in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and she landed a delicious part in An Education which was written by the popular British novelist Nick Hornby. Next year she will team up again with both Brosnan and Hornby for a small role in the film A Long Way Down, based on another Hornby novel.

In some ways, her role in Jack Reacher, a quintessentially American production (likely to spawn a mega-franchise) mirrors her role as a Bond girl, that quintessentially British series. But it's very much a reflection, not a continuation on the same path, as she notes her role in Jack Reacher is "So different from Bond because the Bond woman is always a fantasy creation. You go to Bond for the glamour, for the fantasy." But with Child's world, she says, "women are allowed to get flustered. They operate in a real way." Rodin is a fully drawn character: "You know her. She might be a friend." Despite her effortless beauty, Pike also has the warmth and thoughtfulness of someone who very much could be a friend -- that is, your very smart friend who went to Oxford (Pike is an alumna) and reads Clarence Darrow.

The film was shot in Pittsburgh, and Pike fell in love with the city, which she says is "very cinematic and looks very cool in the movie" (avoiding the trap that her fellow blond Brit, Sienna Miller, fell into after she insulted the town while filming The Mysteries of Pittsburgh). Pike refined her American accent there, and feels this film "is in some ways the first movie where I felt fluent in American." She would get up in the middle of the night to check out the car-chase sequences, watching Cruise drive a black and red Chevelle. There's nothing much more American than that.

Rosamund wears a suit by Viktor & Rolf and blouse by Antonio Berardi.

Stylist: Hew Hood / Hair: Tina Outen at Streeter / Makeup: Florrie White at D+V Management using Chanel / Location: St Martin's Lane Hotel

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