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Myles of Style

1 June 2004   |   Written by Becci Field

Sophia Myles is about to hit our screens in a particularly glamorous way, as Lady Penelope in a remake of ’60s cult show Thunderbirds. Becci Field caught up with her as she stopped by the Lancome suite at Claridges to get ready for the Batas.

Born in Notting Hill, the daughter of a vicar, 24-year-old Sophia Myles is London’s hottest belle du jour. With her baby-blonde bob, her peaches-and-cream complexion and silkily upmarket accent, she’s the perfect choice to play the ultra-stylish, Chanel-clad, white-gloved Lady P.

Although this is her biggest film to date, Sophia’s no stranger to the screen. She was spotted, aged 16, in a school play by screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), who instantly snapped her up for his adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper. After returning to school to finish her A levels she appeared in Mansfield Park, Nicholas Nickleby and then Oliver Twist alongside long-time pal Keira Knightley. “I got caught in the corset trap for a while,” she giggles. “I think it’s because people say I have a very ‘period’ face – you either look good in a bonnet or you don’t! But then it got to a point where I said to my agent, ‘Enough. You’ve got to get me a part playing a vampire or something.'” And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. Her next job launched her onto the silver screen, whizzing around in the dark of night with Kate Beckinsale in last year’s sci-fi flick Underworld.

And now, far removed from the world of crinolines and fans, Sophia shows her supreme versatility as the posh potty with a passion for pink in Thunderbirds. “When I was called for the audition I didn’t realise how much of a big deal it was – it wasn’t on television when I was young – so I turned up and hadn’t even properly learned the script. I really don’t know how I got the job. I was dressed in a pink Chanel suit and heels and I just kept getting the giggles as the dialogue is really funny in places.”

So, just how synonymous are Sophia and Lady P? “Well, I’m terrible in high heels for a start,” she grins. “Lady P is rock’n’roll, taking girl power to a new limit – she’s ballsy and elegant. I’m such a tomboy in real life. In fact, after three days of filming, the producer came to my dressing room and said, ‘I don’t want you to get offended by this, but we’re going to get you a movement coach, because you can’t walk in heels.’ I couldn’t believe I had to have a coach to teach me to walk like a lady.”

But the girl must have learned quickly, because standing in front of me, as she slips herself into the Matthew Williamson dress and Jimmy Choos she’s chosen for the Batas this evening, is the demurest darling, totally deserving of a place on the red carpet. “I do find it terrifying though,” she confesses. “No one gives you a handbook telling you what happens. Last year at the Batas was the first time anyone had taken my photograph, and I’m sure I looked like a startled deer in headlights.”

So who is Sophia’s date for this evening, as no lady should walk the red mile alone? “I’m going with my dear friend Ron Cook, who plays Parker in the film. It makes you feel safe if you go with a friend as it can be so frightening with all the cameras on you.” And with that, Ron appears and Sophia is whisked off by a Lance make-up artist to get that beautiful completion buffed and polished for the cameras.