This is a formal petition for Hollywood to let Rosamund Pike play more sociopaths. I’m not saying this campaign should take precedence over other movements. The fight to stop awards shows from trying to convince us Jared Leto can actually act, for instance, is still of paramount importance. The crusade to launch an internet debate over “Hollywood’s Best James,” the likes of which will one-day rival the current “Best Chris” discourse, cannot and shall not be forgotten. And of course, the noble work of pressuring Disney to give Oscar Isaac and Pedro Pascal the Star Wars rom-com they deserve will never truly end.
But Pike, who’s been faithfully strapping herself into corsets for Jane Austen romance dramas and hot-ironing her hair for period pieces and donning power suits for Tom Cruise-led action adventures for over two decades now, well … she deserves this win. She’s earned this victory. And rewarding her relentless on-screen efforts benefits us too. After all, no one plays unhinged quite like Rosamund Pike. She’s got a knack for bringing NSFW characters to life. Not NSFW in the way that watching a Bridgerton episode or those Michael B. Jordan Super Bowl commercials might be. No, it’s more that, when you’re watching Rosamund Pike go absolutely apesh*t on screen, you too feel a strange desire to crawl out of your skin and ram a hammer into your face. And, as entertaining as that might be to watch, you just know your high-strung cubicle mate couldn’t handle the sight of that much blood.
I blame this renewed fervor with which I’m advocating for Pike’s murderess renaissance on her latest on-screen downward spiral, I Care A Lot. In it, Pike plays Marla, a grifter in monochromatic suits who smirks her way through courtroom hearings and gangster shakedowns as she cons old bitties out of their financial stockpiles. Marla is a woman who preys on the elderly, reveling in their misfortune of having their fortunes stolen by her, living it up with her lesbian lover Fran and dragging the hell out of life through the mouthpiece of her beloved vape pen. I knew when the trailer featured the actress narrating Marla’s scheme that deranged Rosamund Pike was back. I knew, because any time Pike is voicing over her own on-screen downward spiral, what she’s really doing is choosing violence.
She’s done it before, most notably in David Fincher’s muted thriller Gone Girl.
Now, your average cinephile might remember that movie as the first on-screen credit for Ben Affleck’s peen — or, side-peen — but to focus solely on the shadowed genitalia of a Dunkin Donuts mascot would be a grave mistake. No, the real chaos-causing performance in that film comes from Pike’s Amy Dunne. Amy Dunne, who fearlessly faked her own death simply to teach her cheating husband a lesson. Amy Dunne, who slit the throat of a grown-up Doogie Howser mid-climax. Amy Dunne, who gave us one of the most scathing, insightful monologues on sexism in society with her “Cool Girl” speech. Did she kill, maim, and leave scorched earth to be watered by Affleck’s tears in her wake? Hell yes, she did, and she loved every minute of it.
The thing is, so did we. How could we not, when Pike herself admitted to having a damn good time acting out her inner weirdness on screen?
In a 2015 interview with Collider, Pike shared how liberating it was to wear Amy’s skin, saying “it’s a version of being a woman that isn’t contained in any way. She’s extreme. Yes, it’s a film about a murderess, but it’s very empowering, in some ways. It’s great to get to make good on every insane thought you’ve ever had.” At one point, Pike even went to a butcher shop to use a box cutter on a pig carcass so she could understand how “much force you needed to slice someone’s throat.”
And this is a woman who commits, whether it’s a Fincher-directed Oscar contender or an obscure music video for an 80s era British electronica group.
Isn’t everyone’s greatest fear while riding the subway that a metallic robotic ball will appear and melt your brain? Pike undoubtedly modeled her wild interpretive dance on Isabelle Adjani’s performance in the 1981 film, Possession, but watching her writhe on dirty subterranean tile, bash her head against brick walls, and quite literally howl with laughter into the echo chamber there’s a thought that scurries across the surface of your brain like a sewer-dwelling rat and nestles itself into your subconscious until it becomes fact: Rosamund Pike was born to play a maniac.
She’s done it in other films too, as a gun-wielding hostage-taker in the tense drama 7 Days In Entebbe, as a famous 19th-century scientist fighting against misogyny in her field in Radioactive, and as a female war correspondent sporting one hell of an eye-patch in A Private War. Even when she was confined by the shackles of ridiculous notions like “reality” and “historical accuracy” playing these characters based on real-life figures, Pike squeezed every ounce of Kool-aid from their antics and drank it up.
Can Rosamund Pike play the sweet, girl-next-door? Sure. Is she able to embody the class and poise of a British-born royal? You bet your a** she is. But what Pike really wants to do — and what we want to watch her do — is spiral. Spiral so fast and so far down that we question our own sanity while watching her do it. She wants to vape and cackle, con and grift, murder and mayhem her way through every trope Hollywood tries to box her in with.
Rosamund Pike wants to be her best-self on-screen and Rosamund Pike’s best-self is her most deranged self. Who are we to question that?