Q&A with Sophia Myles and Ron Cook
About your bath scene, how long did you have to sit in the water? How freezing was it?
SOPHIA MYLES: It wasn’t freezing it was very warm. It took two days doing that scene and I think it was because of the bubble bath, this cheap bubble bath with huge bubbles. My skin started to itch and I had a rash all over my body. It was horrible.
Ron, the men are obviously very envious of you, so take us through the car and the specifications and that kind of stuff?
RON COOK: It is 28 foot long and has six wheels which probably makes it difficult to park in central London. It has got a V8 engine and it does go over a hundred miles an hour.
Did you actually drive it?
RON COOK: Yeah, I did. I had to drive it once. At first they wouldn’t let me near it because it is quite tricky to drive. It doesn’t have a steering wheel – in the film it flies – it has a joystick with a cross bar on it. So it was actually difficult to turn. You have to drive like a fork lift truck.
Sophia, do you think there is a market out there for pink cars?
SOPHIA: Yeah, I would really like a pink Mini Cooper. I love the Mini Coopers. I think we should bring out some more vibrant kind of cars. I love those streets in London where they have got the houses painted in different colours. I wish they would allow that to be done more.
Sophia, the original Lady Penelope was modelled on Sylvia Anderson who did the voice but yours is more Joanna Lumley. How were you picturing her as your character?
SOPHIA: Well, both of us sat down and watched all the DVD’s and obviously we studied the original very closely but we weren’t trying to copy. We wanted to do the original justice but at the same time give it a fresh twist and make the characters our own.
Ron your character is being very cockney, how did you pitch that?
RON COOK: It is always a problem when you are playing such a great character, such a great icon. So my first reaction when the agent rang up and said they want you to play Parker was “Great!” and then I went “Oh, God!” It is a heavy mantle to wear. So we had to make them our own in a sense, we couldn’t better the original. It would be wrong just to copy so in a sense we were going from making puppets into making them real people and sort of honouring the original and making it our own.
You suggested that there is a favourite line of yours that seem to sum up where he is coming from?
RON COOK: Yeah, because that sixties way of Cockney talking was actually not right for now. It wouldn’t seem real enough. So, we decided that it was not his pronunciation but the words that he used. And in the bath scene she says “Any news of the Thunderbird?” And he says “No, my lady. The media is awash in speculation of its whereabouts” So, it is actually in the language that he uses.
What’s Parker’s story?
RON COOK: There is a story that Parker was discovered burgling Lady Penelope’s home…
SOPHIA: and Lady Penelope said to him “Either I am going to turn you into the police or you can come and work for me” That is how they met.
RON COOK: He is from London, an East End villain, and he has been inside. I don’t think you can see it in the film but I do have tattoos!
SOPHIA: That you would have done yourself in jail! (Laughs)
How do you think children are going to react to the film?
RON COOK: I don’t know it is a new adventure.
SOPHIA: We went to the Tribeca Film Festival and Sir Ben was there as well and I had little girls coming up saying “We really love your car!”
RON COOK: I tend not to get recognised. Once I got stopped in the street by two girls who said, “Can we have your autograph?” And as they walked away one of them said to the other “It ‘s not him!” (Laughs) I wanted to run after them and say, “Who did you think I was?” (Laughs)
During filming did you think…”If I see pink again I’ll scream?
SOPHIA: No, I never got sick of pink actually.
RON COOK: We both turned up in pink yesterday. It takes a real man to wear pink socks.
What kind of training did you have to do for your massive action scene and how much fun was that?
SOPHIA: It was the most exercise I have ever done in my whole life! It was two weeks and we had a great group of stunt co-ordinators and we just broke the sequence day every day bit by bit. Obviously our fighting styles are very different Lady P is very acrobatic.
RON COOK: We trained quite a lot for that, I enjoyed it. I always thought that boxing in a three minute round, that is nothing, but phew! Ginger, my stand in, used to stand aside and say “Do you want to do this Ron?” “Yeah, I’ll do it!” So, I did all the stunts myself and I had the bruises to prove it.
SOPHIA: I have to point out that I had two stunt doubles, so anytime I look cool during that sequence it ain’t me!
What kind of women do you like to play?
SOPHIA: It depends, I just like to try different things for each film I do. To try something that is a challenge which I have not done before. The fantastic thing about Lady Penelope is that she is such a positive role model for young children because she is bright, she is intelligent and she is funny, strong and sexy without being provocative and I think it is nice to actually have a role model for children which isn’t dancing around showing everything hang out. It is just a great character to play and also the comedy and the dialogue and to have a side kick like this one was a joy and we
had such a good time.
What is the nature of Parker’s relationship with Lady Penelope? Is there a sexual attraction?
RON COOK: I think it is more avuncular. He is very loyal to her. He would do anything for her.
How would you like your career to be heading in the future?
SOPHIA: For both of us really, we have never been in a film this big before or have done anything like what we are doing today. I have no idea until I get there, I’ll have to talk to you then! I don’t know. But in terms of my career I just want to carry on doing work and material that really inspires me. I am off to do a completely different film in a couple of weeks. I just want to work with really great directors and a great cast. Because that is when you really learn.
Ron you are also embarking on a new project in Scotland.
RON COOK: I am. I am in Glasgow at the moment. I am doing a film with Peter Mullan and Brenda Blethyn, playing a Glaswegian.
There are a lot of adaptations of TV series, why do you think that is?
SOPHIA: I think it has to do a lot with now and the visual effects technology.
RON COOK: I also think that with film executives, it is what they remember from their youth so they are reproducing it now! Reliving their childhood maybe! Or maybe it is a lack of ideas.
Do you have a favourite from the past that you would like to see as a remake?
SOPHIA: I used to love WORZEL GUMMIDGE and THE WOMBLES OF WIMBLEDON.
RON COOK: I used to love Cowboy stuff.
SOPHIA: I would love to do a Western.
Did you find that there was a lot of testosterone on the set?
SOPHIA: There was but it was difficult when they were in the suits! (Laughs) It was so funny! We didn’t work with the Tracy brothers that much, we were mainly with Brady. So they were like a family to us those guys.
RON COOK: It is odd sometimes filming because you look forward to working with people in a film and sometimes you don’t get to see them. I did THE MERCHANT IN VENICE with Al Pacino recently and I was so excited. I never met him! (Laughs) And he was probably the only reason why I did it! I was flying in to Venice and he was flying out.
Which scenes in this film do you look forward to seeing the most?
SOPHIA: That I wasn’t part of? My favourite moment, I cry every time I see it! It’s when Brady’s character mimics Soren’s stutter and just seeing Soren’s little face, I love that moment.
RON COOK: I was quite impressed by the space ship flying and watching the special effects. It is weird sometimes when you are working on a film that has CGI. When we are sitting in FAB 1 we weren’t sitting in the car we were sitting in a mock up in a car park in Pinewood and we have got cows mooing on one side and then they are demolishing the TOMB RAIDER set on the other and we are surrounded by blue plastic. But when you see the film it is fantastic! You have to really use your imagination. We have to watch a polystyrene cup on a stick and go “Hi, Jeff” and it is a little cup! Actually it is a big surprise and it is wonderful to see it because you have no idea of how it is going to go!
Sophia, you said that you particularly liked a scene that we won’t see until the DVD comes out, what was that about?
SOPHIA: Our first week was in the Seychelles and they flew us out there. Ron and I worked for one day… the rest of the time we spent snorkelling and at the bar! (Laughs) We were having a fantastic time. We went there to shoot this scene that was cut from the film where ….
RON COOK: There was a scene where FAB 1 lands on Tracy Island and is blown up by this torpedo. I say “Pardon me m’lady but there is a torpedo rapidly approaching us.” (Laughs) And you are sitting there really cool and I break out in a sweat as this torpedo is approaching us! Anyway, we had to abandon the ship and it turns into a pedalo…
SOPHIA: A pink pedalo with a Mississippi mud wheel at the back! I am sitting with a parasol and Ron is pedalling! We shot it at midday sun in the Seychelles and it is when you burn even with factor 60 on. I have never seen someone so physically green before.
RON COOK: They took us out in to the middle of the water for a helicopter shot and I am in full uniform with a sponge flat cap and I am pedalling away like mad. This guy says “We are going for another one Ron!” It nearly killed me! I nearly died.
Merchandise will be a big part of this movie, have you seen yourselves as action figures yet?
SOPHIA: No…voodoo dolls! (Laughs) It is going to be really strange.
Ron, are you looking forward to your little figure?
RON COOK: I am!
SOPHIA: I have already got a little Parker…the original Parker. I was given it in Tokyo by one of the journalists. He came with this photographer and I thought it was just a present and then they wanted a picture of me and this doll.
Are you up for a sequel?
SOPHIA: Definitely if they ask us. I hope so. We haven’t heard anything about a number 2 but fingers crossed.
RON COOK: I think it depends on how the film goes. If it is well received there might be another one.
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