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Rosamund Pike: An earnest performer with enviable range

As actress Rosamund Pike turns a year older, here’s revisiting her career so far.

Rosamund Pike: An earnest performer with enviable range
  • Shreya Paul

Last Updated: 03.10 PM, Jan 24, 2022

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Rosamund Pike has had a rather odd career. Marked with few stellar performances here and there, the actress has not really been part of tentpole projects or commercial money-spinners. From playing Jane, the eldest Bennet sisters in Keira Knightley’s Pride & Prejudice, to the vicious Amy in Gone Girl, the actress has shown remarkable range, though with a thin filmography backing her.

2021’s The Wheel of Time sees her playing Moiraine, a member of the group named Aes Sedai. This women-led group has the ability to deal with special powers. In this universe, men are disallowed from channelling any magic because of the previous results of mass destruction. The series follows Moiraine as she launches a quest for the Dragon Reborn, an unknown but powerful individual who holds the potential to destroy the world or save it from impending doom.

For Pike, this was a reinvention of her image. Though not unknown to playing tough female alphas on-screen, The Wheel of Time’s centre-stage provided a different challenge for the actress. Unfortunately, the series received mixed to negative reviews. Pike’s performance however faced largely fair responses.

By the time David Fincher’s Gone Girl had hit theatres, Pike had become a few films old, though not yet a household name. She had already appeared in Doom, Die Another Day and Pride & Prejudice. But with Gone Girl, the actress propelled her career to a more centred league of A-listers, shouldering big projects all on their own.

Speaking about her character Amy in Gone Girl, the actress once said, “It was like letting out every single part of being a woman. I’d come home to my partner and say, ‘I just get to do everything with this character.’ 

Because even if she isn’t that thing essentially, Amy, she’s playing it or she’s putting it on or she’s doing a show or she’s pretending to be something she’s not or the whole kind of cool girl trope and all the different selves that she’s able to project, and then obviously where it goes it’s like you get to do everything. And it was like, after that, the floodgates opened, and I’d kind of fully let out the crazy and after that, I never had to put the crazy back in the box again.”

What then followed were two extremely pivotal productions in Pike’s career graph. With her compelling performance in the British comedy series State of the Union in 2019, the actress picked up a Primetime Emmy Award. For I Care a Lot, her next in 2021, she nabbed a Golden Globe.

I Care a Lot was always supposed to be immensely unapologetic. Pike donned the garb of Marla Grayson, an apparently altruistic entrepreneur, whose business empire has been established through care homes for the elderly. But Grayson’s devious mind concocts the perfect con through this scenario. 

She identifies ailing people and through court-appointed letters, gets herself registered as their official caregiver. Once she has that control, she also overtakes control of their assets and sells them off at auctions to pay herself for her services. These elderly people, who have almost reached a dementia-like state and is completely unable to oversee their possessions, are more than willing to let go of control, glad in their thought that at least someone is looking after them.

Writer cum director J Blakeson was inspired by this unique idea for I Care a Lot after reading news stories covering such similar incidents. Talking about the unfairness of it all, Blakeson once said during an interaction, “These stories were horrifying and not uncommon. So I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole in reading about these various stories happening in various places and thought there was something almost Kafkaesque about somebody knocking on your door and just taking you away for a reason you didn’t think was valid. They had the law on their side and there was nothing you could do.”

Marla is ruthless and unabashedly so. She declares her life’s mantra at the beginning of the film, a binary that guides her. She says the entire world is made up of two kinds of people: predators and prey, lions and lambs, and she is no lamb, but “a fucking lioness.” This distinction is lived up to the hilt and Marla charts her actions with a clear conscience, based on this very notion. Her modus operandi is simple – she needs to be able to exploit, because if she is not, she’ll be the one being ripped apart.

Except for her moments with her business partner and lover Fran (Eiza González), which reflect deep instances of love and intimacy, Marla is pretty intimidating. Her neat bob sits atop her head unscathed; the strictly ironed dresses, the sharply tailored pencil skirts, the on-point make-up and the piercing eyes, all are adorned like an armour. Marla is simply living each day, with the carefree thought that she’ll always prevail, despite everything.

I Care a Lot received raving reviews and critics lauded Pike’s earnest performance and Blakeson’s biting satire. The film also marked an experimental juncture in the actress’ career, one that fortunately paid off rich dividends.

Pike’s earnestness as a performer is evident from the way she chooses to portray each character on screen. With her reinventing herself, here’s hoping she’ll sign more projects for the recent future.

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