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Over There

October 2007   |   Written by Diane McGinn

British actress Sophia Myles is spearheading an invasion of the US primetime schedules as the lead of new Vampire series Moonlight..

WATCH OUT America, the British are coming. Not to revoke the Declaration of Independence, or to ask for payment for the tea. But they are taking over the lead roles in new American Fantasy series. Rome star Kevin McKidd is playing the lead in Journeyman. Brookside‘s Anna Friel is in Pushing Daisies (see page 70). Lena Headey is the Terminator’s newnemesis in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. And, replacing Shannon Lucio as the female lead in Vampire detective show Moonlight (formerly Twilight), is Sophia Myles, who played the Doctor’s love interest Madame de Pompadour in the Hugo award-winning Doctor Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace. “Yes, we’re coming to take all of your jobs,” the actress laughs at she meets the press at the series’ launch.

THE ACTRESS might be English – very English when playing Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward in the live action big screen remake of Thunderbirds – but in Moonlight she will, she says, be playing her character, “as an American,” something she’s done before.

“I have, yeah, twice,” she comments. “I did a movie called Art School Confidential, which we shot here, and I played an American in that, and something else for CBS, a one-off television show, so I have done it a couple of times.” As for the British invasion of American screens that’s followed Hugh Laurie’s success in House, she admits she doesn’t have any explanation for it, but says, “I’m delighted for my sake that it’s happening. It definitely seems to be the trend, I remember hearing the actress Lena Headey, we were together a couple of months ago, and she said, ‘I’m just off to LA, I’ve got my own show.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, I want my own show.’ I liked the sound of that. I can’t vouch for why the Americans are bringing foreign talent in, but I can say from our perspective, the government in England is putting no money at all into the film industry, so there isn’t really an industry in the UK anymore. Being an actor anyway means that you have to travel, you have to go where the work is, but it would be a blessing to be able to get a job where I could sleep in my own bed in London every night. But that just doesn’t happen anymore, it really doesn’t.”

In Moonlight, Myles explains, “I play a character called Beth Turner and she is an internet news reporter. Instead of feeding reports through to television they’re fed straight through to a net, and her news site is called Buzz Wire News, and when you first see her she’s actually doing her first ever live report. She goes to the scenes of crimes basically. And that’s when I meet Mick St John, because he’s a private investigator.”

NOT JUST a PI though, as Mick is also a Vampire, something Myles is familiar with from past, pointy, experience. “I have never seen an episode of Buffy“, she says, “I’ve never seen an episode of Angel, I haven’t actually watched that much American television. But I’ve played a Vampire twice actually. I did Underworld and I did an adaptation of Dracula for the BBC, so I did the whole stake-through-the-heart thing. That’s maybe why they called me, I do have quite a strong CV when it comes to Vampires and stuff.”

But just because you know the rules, that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed. “With our show they’re being quite clever; our rules of Vampires are slightly different from the common known mythology of Vampires,” Myles explains. “The garlic thing doesn’t work in our show, and Mick can go out in daylight. It doesn’t kill him, it just makes him wither a bit.”

The effect of sunlight is something that’s My1es is enjoying about working in Los Angeles. “It’s such a luxury to be here,” she says. “In England my skin hasn’t seen sunshine for the last 10 years, so I feel like I’m on a summer holiday being here. It’s the weather I’m looking forward to, just enjoying the sun, I think LA is a great place to live a really healthy lifestyle, just keeping well and busy. I want to go up to San Francisco and I must get to Las Vegas, I’ve never been to Vegas.”

THOUGH THE actress does miss home. “I miss the smell of London. You know when you step off an airplane, don’t places smell different? I miss the sense of humour there, it’s my home, it’s where I’m from, so I always feel very grounded and normal when I’m there, but at the moment I haven’t really had time, I don’t foresee having much time to miss it that much, we seem to be pretty busy. I’ve never done a series before. The pace is very quick, but I love that, because it’s boring on film sets just hanging around between set ups, I like to just keep going, so I was thrilled about that.”

And that’s exactly what she’s done, as taking over a recast role from the pilot has meant she was thrown in at the deep end. “Our first day of shooting was today, and I literally got in two nights ago, so I’m jetlagged beyond belief. And I had my first teething problem with living in a foreign country, I put my car keys and my clicker for the garage in the laundry room in my apartment building, I thought ‘I’ll leave the keys and the clicker in the sink next to the washer/dryer’, so then I put some laundry in and I went back to my apartment, and that sink filled up with water from the washer, so my keys and my clicker were completely soaked and weren’t working, so I couldn’t get the garage open, let alone open the car. I left my script in the car, so thank God I’d taken it out 10 minutes earlier to learn the stuff for today. It could have been a disaster; I could have not made it to work and not learned any lines..”