One of the few constants of Torchwood since day one, Eve Myles has headed to America for the shoot of the soon-to-start Torchwood: Miracle Day.
We caught up with her twice to talk about the project. Firstly, just after shooting started earlier this year, and more recently, at the UK press launch, once production was complete. And here’s what she had to say…
Can you start by just telling us where you fit in this time around?
Well, it’s a year later from Children Of Earth. The consequences of Children Of Earth mean that she’s had to go into hiding with her family to keep them safe, and she’s wanted. You find her in a very derelict limbo, a quiet place. The complete antithesis of what Gwen Cooper is all about. A very boring world for her. A normal world for us.
She gets pulled into a crazy, unnatural worldwide phenomenon. There’s two people who will always be involved in something like that, and it’s Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper. So, she gets pulled in, and my God, she can’t wait to get pulled in. She’s missed it.Is she bored?
In the beginning, yes. She’s trying to put a brave face on it. She’s trying to be the wife and the mother, doing normal things.
So, how does she get the call?
It’s not a call. Absolutely not a call. Something happens and Gwen has absolutely no choice. Get on with it or be killed.
And Gwen is a changing character?
She’s changing every year. She has to. She has to keep evolving, otherwise she can’t run this organisation with Jack, or be a part of it. She’s got to change.
But we’ve got to remember that she doesn’t have a choice in this. Particularly in this series. She has to do what she has to do, otherwise, the world will end as we know it. She has to take charge.
So, she just fits in as she has done in the last three series. She takes control. She takes action. And she says no. That’s the big thing for her, this series. She says no.Where does family fit in for her?
It’s huge. And I love that they’ve given Gwen a family. You see her mum and dad. They’ve got a lot to do in this series. But also she’s a mum. And with Torchwood, she realised that every time she leaves and walks through the door, she may never return again. And it’s different now, because she’s a mum.
But that’s how it is. She’ll do her best to keep the baby safe, but she’s still Gwen Cooper.
How is the experience of making the show in America? It’s your first time doing something like this in the States?
Yeah. I’ve done theatre in America, but not television. I think the build up seems bigger than if you do something in your own country, but as soon as I got into read through and opened the first page, I could have been anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter. You’re not going to give more because you’re over there. You’re always going to do your best. It doesn’t matter where you’re going to be.
But still, I was sitting in Warner Bros and I felt a bit sick! I had sat there for an hour before I was needes! It was just incredible. We’re on the Casablancastage, I’m just going to throw that in. I told my partner that I needed to be there for half past eight. I didn’t. I didn’t need to be there until ten. And I sat in the bus stop where they pick the tourists up, to take them around. I sat there thinking, “My God, this is amazing!”
And there were our names on the golf carts, and I was trying to be cool! But what an experience.How do you feel about Hollywood now? Would you like to live there, now you’ve experienced it?
Well, my home is where my family is, and we’ve really taken to Los Angeles now. We’re there, and we’re living underneath the Hollywood sign. Literally! My daughter, my dog, my partner and about fifty coyotes that live in the field next to us! Whatever happens with work, they love it there. And if they didn’t enjoy it there, I wouldn’t be back.
And let’s be honest, L.A. is not a bad place to live. There are some crazy people there, but I tend to get on with them!
Do you have Spielberg next door to babysit?
He’s becoming a bit of a pain in the arse, to be honest. He keeps coming round, knocking. I tell him it’s really not convenient……. And we caught up with Eve a few months later at the official UK press launch for Miracle Day.
How are you celebrity neighbours? Is Spielberg still a problem?
Oh, I’ve had to get an injunction out on him.
A super injunction, presumably?
Yeah! I’ve had to tell him to stick his goddam film! He needs to go. I’ve told him. He’s making a pest of himself.
Now that it’s all wrapped for you, and you look back, have you enjoyed it?
It’s been amazing. And I mean really amazing. It’s just worked out to be the most extraordinary eight months of my life.When we spoke before, you were a week or two into shooting in America. You were very much in the novelty phase of it. And you came back and were chased by a helicopter along a Welsh beach. You gave off a real sense of a kid in a candy store. And that’s not gone away, presumably?
No, not at all. And I hope that it never does go away. There isn’t a second of this shoot that I’ve not pinched myself and been so overwhelmed with. I’ve enjoyed it so much, and I know how lucky I am to be doing what I am, and doing what I love. Every day that you get to play Gwen Cooper in Cardiff, and in L.A., has been superb. Rolling into Warner Bros every day has been sensational.
Aren’t you supposed to come back from Hollywood with an ego?!
It’s never going to happen! My dog has come back with a complete ego. I don’t know who he thinks he bloody is!
No, I’ve just appreciated it so much.
Which of the pinch yourself moments particularly stands out? The helicopter on Roscilly Beach in Wales?
That was one of the best days I’ve ever had filming. A beautiful beach, a beach I’m very used to. With a bazooka, a jeep, two helicopters, Mekhi Phifer and John Barrowman.
Was Mekhi Phifer singing too?
[Laughs] That would have been great! Mekhi Phifer actually gave the quote of the entire series. He started the big jeep run, and he was going, “Yeah, man. This is what this job is all about! This is why we do this, man.”
Cut to fifteen minutes later, he was freezing cold. “What is going on? Where are the heaters? This is too cold! Man, it’s too cold!”
That, and I think there’s huge standout moments in the entire thing for me. And there’s one with someone I really wanted to work with. And I said before I even found out that she’d got the part, I was asked who would be your ideal cast co-star…You said Hannah Montana didn’t you?
[Laughs] And I said Hannah Montana, and she turned up. And Hannah Montana was just great. I had a big fight scene with her!
It was Lauren Ambrose, and I have a great scene with her. And I kept coming from the scene going, “Oh, my God, I’ve got a scene with Lauren Ambrose.”
It struck me from this side of the fence that, when we got the casting announcements coming through, it struck me as a bit like The Expendables, just of 80s and 90s character actors.
Wayne Knight, Bill Pullman. And that makes you Stallone, I suppose.
I’ve never had that said before! But I want it said to me again!
It’s interesting, though, because if this goes to plan and it goes down well in America, then it opens up things for you. So, where do you want to go next? Film?
Absolutely. A Torchwood movie would be incredible. It would be sensational to have a beginning, a middle and an end in ninety minutes. A big walloping Torchwood crunched into ninety minutes would be breathtaking.
Do you think Torchwood could fit a ninety minute formula? It always struck me that it’s at its best when it’s got the space to develop a story?
Well, I didn’t know how we’d ever top Children Of Earth, and Russell T Davies comes along with ten scripts that blow my face off. Literally. This isn’t actually my face. I borrowed it off Hannah Montana! She’s very generous.
I think Russell is capable of doing anything. I think if we did do a movie, it would be a fantastic give back to the fans, who have followed us from day one.The one thing that struck me is that Gwen was in harshest place at the end of Children Of Earth. For better or worse, Jack could run away, but you were stuck. And for a picking up point, even appreciating Miracle Day doesn’t start the day after Children Of Earth, that has to have changed Gwen quite a lot?
You won’t recognise Gwen. She’s the only remaining Torchwood member left, and she’s in danger. She’s in massive danger. She’s a wanted woman. Nobody knows where she is. And she’s waiting, every day. But now she’s waiting as a mother.
That’s the fascinating thing about her this time. That she’s a parent.
It fascinates me. When I first got the script, I thought, “How do I play this? How do I make it work?” And it’s very simple, actually. You play it truthfully. A mother, but in a heightened sense that I have to save the world. The pressure on this woman is unbearable. I do not know how Gwen Cooper does it. But she does.
Eve Myles, thank you very much.
Torchwood: Miracle Day arrives on BBC One on Thursday 14th July.
Read more about Torchwood: Miracle Day here.