For English beauty Sophia Myles, 2006 represented a sort of coming-out party, with the period-piece romance Tristan & Isolde and the vampire-and-werewolf action sequel Underworld: Evolution, plus a plum role in Terry Zwigoff’s Art School Confidential five months later. Her latest film is David Mackenzie’s Mister Foe, in which she stars opposite Jamie Bell as Kate Breck, a middle-management hotel employee who enters into a warped relationship with a lusty kid, Hallam, who starts spying on her because she reminds him of his dead mother. Myles spoke with Vulture about working with a pervy, adult Billy Elliot, Mackenzie’s deft touch with sex, and fan reaction to the recently canceled, much-beloved CBS vampire drama Moonlight.
A lot of American audiences still most associate Jamie with Billy Elliot, and here you see him … a lot more grown-up.
And he’s a bit of a pervert, right!? Well, it’s the same thing with me — I associated Jamie with Billy Elliot. I think most of the British public does. Jamie, as far as I’m concerned, is a national treasure. I would say he’s right up there at the top of my favorite co-stars, because in any scene between him and I, he’s so good and moving that all I had to do was just react to whatever he was doing. He’s made this seamless transition from child star to adult star without any of the rehab and all the nonsense.
Mister Foe shares some similarities with a lot of David’s other work, Young Adam and a couple of his short films, in that there are messy romances and passion and inappropriate sexual relationships.
What I love about David Mackenzie is that he doesn’t do “happily ever after.” I think his films deal with reality, not fantasy, and that’s what I loved about Mister Foe. The other thing that David does well is sex. I think he portrays it in a very realistic, non-gratuitous way — the rawness and often unsexiness of it. The scenes in this film aren’t sensual by any means. I don’t think, other than maybe for a few weirdos out there in the world, people are going to be turned on watching them.
The 16-year-olds who scour the MPAA ratings language and say, “‘Strong sexual content’? I am so there!” are going to be in for a surprise.
[Laughs.] Yes, exactly!
Kate has a line in which she says, “Sometimes I prefer sour, sometimes I prefer sweet.” It gives the sense that she’s more than somewhat aware of some of the bad decisions that she’s making. Did that appeal to you?
Absolutely. Women are often so badly written in movies — they’re just completely one-dimensional, in the film to serve the man. Kate’s very confident, comfortable in her own skin, professional, graceful … but in fact take the mask off and behind closed doors she’s a mess. She’s got demons perched on both shoulders, talking to her in both ears. So often women in movies are just fluff, and that bores me senseless.
I confess to experiencing this only vicariously, but I had a lot of friends that were quite upset when Moonlight was not renewed.
Yeah, well, your friends and 8 million other fans. I had no experience with American television, but the fan following was the most rewarding part, because it was so wonderful having an actual relationship with your audience. And I loved the fact that my office was Warner Bros. I really felt like I’d made it for a second there — to work at a studio in the center of Hollywood, where there’s so much history. I thought, Well, if I never work again then at least I did this. There was something magical about it, and we were all very shocked that it got canceled.
And the last movie you did before Moonlight was Outlander, which still hasn’t come out. So…
What the fuck, yeah? [Laughs.] That’s a crazy situation, and kind of the polar opposite of Mister Foe, which you’ll come out of thinking about yourself, and your level of consciousness might be slightly enhanced. Outlander is set in Viking times in Norway, and very early on in the script an alien ship crash-lands on Earth and brings with it, as well as Jim Caviezel, this terrifying dragon. It’s taking a while to come out. As always, there’s drama, I think, behind the scenes. I’m not entirely sure. No one tells me because I’m just the actress. It will come out, and it’s not true that it’s going straight to DVD….
Do you have anything else definitively lined up?
No, I’m completely unemployed! [Laughs.] I’m not going to lie: these fucking breaks! I’ve had some exciting meetings, but for now I’m unemployed because they’re still waiting to resolve this acting strike. No one is taking a chance and putting anything in production, so I’m just chilling out, getting a tan.