Rosamund Pike on Barney's Version and Pass-Out-Drunk First Dates

barneys_version_pike500.jpgThere's a scene in Barney's Version in which Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) prepares for his first date with the woman who will eventually become his third wife by downing a few cocktails to kill the nerves. Not surprisingly, by the time Barney shows up for his date, he's visibly sauced. Coincidentally, Rosamund Pike, who plays the woman who will eventually become Barney's third wife, had a similar experience with a drunken suitor that, oddly, ended exactly the same way.

Spanning the course of four decades, Barney's Version chronicles the story of Barney Panofsky, a brusque TV executive who manages to marry three times and may or may not have killed his best friend. Pike portrays spouse number three, Miriam, who meets Barney at his wedding to his second wife (Minnie Driver). Movieline met with Pike at her Manhattan hotel to discuss her new film, why she knows all to well what it's like to have a date pass out from alcohol, and how she wound up in Doom.

It's very nice to meet you.

Oh, I thought she said Meg Ryan. The way it comes out -- "mikeryan."

I apologize in advance that I have no added insight on Joe Versus the Volcano. She did say it very fast.

She did, "mikeryan." [Laughs]

So I just watched Barney's Version again last night.

You did? You have a DVD? I'd like to have the DVD. I want to watch it tonight because I haven't seen it since Venice.

This is not an easy movie to summarize. How do you describe it to people?

No, it's not. It's a sort of romantic, serious, chaotic look at a life well- and ill-lived, I suppose. With all it's reality and smudginess, hilarity and sadness that goes with life. The trouble is that you talk about it and you talk about this wonderful love story and then you forget that it also has got a kind of murder element and this amazing thing about fathers and sons. And this whole rock-and-roll past of drugs and booze and women in Rome. And you think, This is all in one film! And you can't get a handle on it.

Is that a problem in terms of getting people to the theater?

I think the English poster sells it better than the American one. The English poster has got Paul in the center then little almost like TV screens of images, which kinds of give you the idea of this sort of frenetic life. This one, the American one, because they put Dustin [Hoffman] on it, it's slightly misleading.

It's an interesting problem. I mean, I get why they want to put Dustin Hoffman on the poster.

Of course! He's wonderful in it and funny.

At the same time, it's not really his story.

No. And yet he certainly made the element of the father and son a lot to do with redeeming Barney's character. But it's funny: So many people start the interviews with, "So what is there to like about Barney?" And I say, "What isn't there to like about him, really?" He's the kind of guy that I adore. You know, maybe, yeah, he's a selfish, narcissistic loon. But I think those people are fun to be around.

He's for sure an interesting personality to be around.

I mean, yes, you have to be a certain type of woman. I mean, I'm not fit to be with him -- but Miriam is. And she's a caretaker and an observer and a forgiver. She's able to accommodate somebody else's selfish sort of highs and lows. But, within that, she gets a wonderful life. He makes magic. Nothing stops his sort of appetite. If he decides to go and buy a house in Lake Como, he's going to go and do it.

The only thing that is shady is that he hits on her at his own wedding. But he's definitely an interesting guy.

Still! You see this guy, he's trying to reinvent himself. He's had this horrific thing happen where his wife whom he married because he felt a sense of duty has committed suicide. He tries something totally different; the life that he made for himself didn't work out. So he decides to get serious and do what other people think that he should do. So he marries someone totally acceptable and he knows that he's miserable. There, at the wedding, he sees the person that he should be with.

And to be fair, she doesn't immediately accept him.

No. She's polite and charming but she's not in any way flirtatious. Yeah, and he loves her so truly. He really does just adore her. That makes her feel very safe. I think she feels that his love is constant.

At one point Barney does something that he shouldn't have done, but he admits it to Miriam -- something he would never have done in past relationships. In a way, it's quite endearing.

I know, he couldn't lie to her. I know, that's the thing. He doesn't lie; he's a truth teller. For Miriam, that's the one thing where she drew the line and she always said that she would.

The first-date lunch scene is hard to watch.

When he's drunk?


I love that scene.

It's so uncomfortable.

It was so fun to do. Paul plays drunk brilliantly. So people always ask me what I learned from Paul in making this film and I say that when I have to play a middle-aged, cigar-smoking, heavy-drinking, whiskey-loving soak... I will do a mean job of it. Because he just manages to do that scene, making it funny, and keeping the emotional truth of it. Of the guy's nerves and anxieties and love and trying to make it work. It's brilliant.

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