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Pixie set visit: Behind-The-Scenes interview with actress Olivia Cooke
09 Dec 2020 : Nathan Griffin
Olivia Cooke with Ben Hardy and Daryl McCormack in Pixie
We caught up with Olivia Cooke while she was on set filming in Belfast to get some behind-the-scenes insight into the making of the new Northern Irish action-comedy, working with Alec Baldwin and Colm Meaney, learning the Irish accent, and finding out what attracted her to the role of Pixie.

Shot on location in Northern Ireland, the film is led by Cooke, a British rising star best known for her roles in Ready Player One and Bates Motel. Cooke, who plays the role of the protagonist, Pixie, features alongside Ben Hardy (Bohemian Rhapsody, X-Men: Apocalypse) and Irish actor Daryl McCormack (A Very English Scandal). The film is rounded out by several more seasoned actors including Irish actors Dylan Moran (Black Books, Shaun of the Dead) and veteran Colm Meaney (Layer Cake, Con Air) with Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actor Alec Baldwin (SNL, Still Alice) featuring as a drug-dealing priest.

The film follows Pixie(Cooke), as she strives to avenge her mother’s death by masterminding a heist, however, her plans go awry and she finds herself on the run with two young men (Hardy, McCormack) who are way out of their depth. As they are chased across the Wild Irish countryside by gangsters, Pixie has to pit her wits against everyone, taking on the patriarchy to claim the right to shape her own life.

Barnaby Thompson (Wayne’s World 1&2, Kevin and Perry Go Large) produces and directs a debut feature script, written by his son Preston Thompson. James Clayton (My Generation, Pride) produces alongside Barnaby, while Peter Touche and Samantha Allwinton from Ingenious Media serve as executive producers.

Funded by Ingenious and Fragile Films, with support from Northern Ireland Screen, Pixie shot on location in and around Belfast, Northern Ireland for seven weeks, with additional photography in the West of Ireland.

The film is currently on release in Irish cinemas across the country with Paramount Pictures handling the distribution rights in the UK and Ireland, while Endeavor Content is handling worldwide sales. 

We spoke with actress Olivia Cooke while filming on set in Belfast late last year.

What was it about Preston’s script that jumped out at you?

“It was just so funny, it was really, really funny, in that Martin McDonagh vein and doing a heist/road-trip thriller comedy film, that really appealed to me because that’s a genre that I’ve not really done before.”

What can you tell us about your character, Pixie?

“She is a very strong-willed woman, who is a survivor and takes no prisoners. She is also someone who is out for a little bit of revenge but in the cheekiest, naughtiest, and almost light-hearted way possible.”

“She’s really well written. It’s a credit to Preston, who is not Irish and, not a woman. (Laughs) He did a really stellar job with all the characters because it feels so fleshed out and almost timeless.”

Which part of the country is Pixie from?

“We’re going more Tipperary, midlands area just because she moved from traveling, on tour, background because her mum was a travelling musician to Sligo when she was eight. But we want to go full Sligo because that will result in a lot of people saying ‘Excuse me, what?’”

How are you finding working with an Irish accent?

“Really difficult actually. Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. It's quite a challenge, but hopefully, it turns out well… and if not there’s always ADR! We’ve worked with two voice coaches, which was interesting. Brendan Gunn here and then another guy Nick Trumble in London.”

Was there any Irish TV or films that you watch to help get a feel for the accent?

“I just listened to Brendan Gleeson all day, every day, and Pauline McLynn as well. I’ve got a YouTube interview of her talking to RTÉ, where she’s just being asked all these questions and that’s what I listen to every morning.”

What have you made of your travels across the Irish countryside?

“It’s gorgeous, I didn’t expect it actually. Maybe I just didn’t know much about it. I went on a road trip this weekend to the Giants Causeway. It was very beautiful, though very touristy, which I didn’t expect.”

We’ve heard it rained for hours at a time during your outdoor shoots, what did you do to pass the time waiting for the rain to stop?

“There was one day when we were stuck on top of a mountain, just sat in this 1992 old bright yellow Mercedes. And it was Ned, Rory, Daryl, Ben, and myself, and just sat in this car and had lunch in the car for like five hours and just like told stories in our big puffer coats. It was freezing, it had just turned September.

“It’s always beautiful outside (until you start shooting) because it’s the law in Ireland that when you shoot outside it has to rain. Luckily we all got on really well, the actors that they’ve had in are all so funny. I’ve had a bit of a ball just listening to them; there have been moments where I’ve just spat from laughing.”

Is there anything you do before a scene to prepare? We hear that Daryl has a boxing routine and we’ve seen Alec Baldwin lets out a huge scream before each take.

“I don’t really have a routine, maybe I should. I probably mess about too much actually. I should probably rein that in. I do one in order to get into the accent I say “literally belittled in Little Italy” because it's got a lot of dissonances.”

The film boasts such a great cast that includes Alec Baldwin & Colm Meaney. What have they been like to work alongside?

“Really lovely, absolutely lovely teddy bears. It’s really fun, because they’ve been in the biz for so long, and they just know exactly what they want, what they can do, what they can offer the camera, what will help the film & help the scene and it’s very mechanical in the way that they work, which is really interesting, whereas with myself (I don’t want to speak for Darrell or Ben), a lot of it just comes from instincts.”

You mentioned Daryl and Ben there. Did you get a chance to hang out with them before shooting to help build your relationship?

“I met Daryl when he was doing a play in London called ‘Citysong’ that I went to see and he was really good, then we met for drinks afterwards and then Ben and I did a lot of our dialect sessions together in London. So yeah, I knew them a bit; then we had a week of prep where we all hung out again. It’s been really lovely because it's always a gamble throwing people together and having such an intense shoot and being together every single day 24/7, but no it’s been very lovely, we’ve been very lucky.”

Have you gotten involved in any of the action or stunts in the film?

“I shot a few guns, I ran away in boots with a heel, but this whole sequence (being filmed today) within the church is as action-y as it gets. There’s been a lot of car chases but this is the crescendo of the film. But yeah it’s fun to shoot guns, I went firearms training and I was really shocked at how well I can shoot. What do you do with that information after you learn that about yourself?

“It’s like cramming for an exam, with things that you want to do. Like when you get to learn a musical instrument for a film, It’s like a different part of your brain, the short term memory part where you just cram, cram, cram and you get really competent at it, then the film ends and you can’t do it for the life of you.”

Pixie is currently on release in Irish cinemas nationwide.

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