Moonlight becomes her
English rose Sophia Myles has bloomed in Hollywood – thanks to a pop star boyfriend and a top-rated new drama series
Being dumped by Doctor Who can’t be any girl’s idea of fun. And when David Tennant called time on his two-year relationship with Sophia Myles in October last year, citing her move to the States, the actress was reported to be “heartbroken”.
But today, on a bright, sunny LA morning, all that seems a universe away. Far from moping, the 27-year-ol Londoner is in buoyant spirits. And she’s reportedly dating again – the lucky man being bass player Paul Wilson of Irish band Snow Patrol. So will she talk about her new love?
“Oh, you mean my puppy,” she smiles. “He’s a little black-and-tan terrier called Jackson, and he can’t leave the United States for six months, so I stayed here with him and went to the beach on Christmas Day. I had a very quiet, gentle time. It was amazing.”
We’ll take that as a no. But she’s more forthcoming about Australian heartthrob Alex O’Loughlin, her co-star in Moonlight, the US show for which she crossed the pond and left Time Lord Tennant behind. “I can’t speak about Alex highly enough. He’s like an older brother to me and we laugh constantly,” she says. “There’s something about a Brit and an Aussie together. It’s a good combo. We’re outrageous. Sometimes the American don’t know what to do with us.”
There friendship is purely platonic – Alex is dating Australian soap-star-turned-singer Holly Valance – but there’s no doubting that the sparks fly between then on screen. As private investigator Mick St John and internet reporter Beth Turner, they are the could-be couple who launched countless YouTube videos and helped Moonlight, which begins on Living this week, win the People’s Choice Award for favourite new TV drama last month.
The fact that he’s a reformed vampire who rescued her from kidnappers as a child and has pined for her ever since has only added fuel to the fire. “The love story is so interesting because he’s immortal,” Sophia explains. “And the chemistry between Alex and me seems to work. It’s one of those things that everyone wants. Money can’t buy it and there’s no logical formula to create it. We’re lucky, the sum of the two of us works really well. In fact, this is the most amazing job on earth and I’m having the most amazing time.”
Sophia grew up in west London where her father, Peter, was a vicar and her mother, Jane, worked in publishing. She was spotted in a school play by actor and Oscar winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, who put her forward for the part of Lady Jane Grey in a BBC production of The Prince and the Pauper. She loved the experience so much that she decided against following her mother to Cambridge, where she had a conditional offer to study philosophy, preferring instead to pursue acting.
Her down-to-earth demeanour and classic English rose looks soon won her a reputation as the next Kate Winslet. “The comparison has been made for as long as I can remember,” says Sophia, “and it’s a delightful one.”
A number of period dramas followed, including TV adaptions of Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, a small role in Foyle’s War, as well as film parts in Mansfield Park, The Abduction Club and From Hell with Johnny Depp.
But then, at the age of 21, she took the big decision to try her luck in Hollywood. “I wasn’t getting enough work in England, so I came over with £200 in my pocket,” she recalls. “A friend of mine was house-sitting for someone so I lived there for free for a month.”
Fortune smiled on Sophia when she won a bit-part in the 2003 vampire movie Underworld, with Kate Beckinsale. She also appeared in its sequel and was hailed the next big thing when she landed the role of Lady Penelope in 2004’s much-hyped live-action update of TV classic Thunderbirds. The film proved a disappointment and, though Sophia received good reviews, her professional achievements were soon overshadowed when news spread of her affair with actor Charles Dance, 34 years her senior. Coinciding as it did with the end of his marriage to his wife of 25 years, the liaison – albeit brief – caused quite a stir. Sophia maintained a dignified silence on the matter, resolving to avoid the celebrity gossip culture at all costs and keep the focus on her work.
She has now signed a six-and-a-half year contract for Moonlight, and has settled in LA for the foreseeable future. “This is the longest I’ve ever been here,” she reveals. “I’ve decided that, at this point in my life, I can’t really call any country or any house in particular my home. I have a flat in London and I have a place that I’m renting here, but I’ve been a globetrotter since I left school. I don’t really live anywhere but I do feel very welcome in Los Angeles.”
Not that she doesn’t long for the comforts of home every now and then. “Homesickness comes in waves,” she says. I miss simple things – I was having Pizza Express craving the other day. I miss the accent, the dry sense of humour and I just miss the smell of England. It’s home.”
She’s planning a trip back for her 28th birthday next month, but in the meantime she’s hardly short of home-grown company, thanks to the wave of Brit stars including Damian Lewis, Michelle Ryan, Jonny Lee Millar and Lena Headey who have taken over American television of late.
“It has been the invasion this year,” Sophia laughs. “I’m thrilled that everyone’s doing well. I’ve become very good friends with Anna Friel, who’s out here doing Pushing Daisies. She and I have become comrades, giving each other advice and help as we’ve gone along.”We both left messages on each other’s answering machines, having meltdowns, freaking out that we were so tired and we didn’t know whether we were going to survive. She’s just bought a lovely house here, so I go and see her and hang out.
But doesn’t she miss her old mates back in the UK? “Of course I do. It’s kind of hard when I’m working, but I’ve had mates out and I’m going to have more people come over. The right relationships are going to stand the test of time. Real relationships will function no matter where you are in the world.”
Did you hear that, Doctor?