Rosamund Pike never saw Clash of the Titans (2010) – not in theatres, not on DVD, not on television. Then the opportunity to play Andromeda in the sequel, Wrath of the Titans, came along, and Pike got her hands on a Clash of the Titans DVD and popped it into her player.
“I definitely wanted to see it before doing our film,” the actress says. “This storyline is 10 years on, so I felt that gave me licence to recreate Andromeda in my own model. But you want to see where the franchise began, what it was aiming for. Even if (director) Jonathan Liebesman has a totally different vision, you want to know what he’s rebelling against.”
In addition to Sam Worthington, Clash of the Titans stars returning for another go-round include Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades. Alexa Davalos portrayed Andromeda, the princess of Argos, in the first film, but Pike plays the character, now Queen Andromeda, in Wrath of the Titans. The 33-year-old British actress is best known for her work in Die Another Day (2002), Pride & Prejudice (2005), Surrogates (2009) and Johnny English Reborn (2011).
“This story is so rich and the territory is a gold minefield, if I can make up a term,” Pike says. “I think that, if you can blend a human story with something that allows you to explore a world of so many dimensions, then you’re onto a winner. I want my cinema experience to take me out of my everyday. I think a totally human story can take you out of the everyday too, a really powerful one, but a fantasy movie with a human heart, onscreen in the cinema, that can be a very exciting experience.”
Pike’s Andromeda is rough-and-tumble, but also regal and relatable. The actress explains that she didn’t worry much about the “regality of it,” believing that an actor playing a monarch is best served by the people playing his or her subjects.
“They almost have to do more of the creating of the regality for you,” she says. “It’s no good if you go about being a ruler and you haven’t got people who give you the respect. In this movie we have Andromeda in battle sequences, and her regality comes across in how people treat her, how they respond to her, how they look up to her and follow her into battle. I let those elements take care of themselves, really, because you’ve got costuming, you’ve got visuals and you’ve got the actors and extras and all of that.
“So I focused more on her as a warrior and on her as someone approachable,” Pike continues. “I watched a lot of war films and looked at all those portrayals of generals who go among their men and have a one-on-one relationship. They can address the crowd and then bring that right down to the human level. They can give a rousing battle speech and then say, ‘How’s your family?’ That’s what I wanted for Andromeda.”
Currently pregnant with her first child, Pike describes Andromeda as her most physical role to date. She notes that she had been in action movies and played physical roles before, but never had done one in which she felt she nailed the physicality. That changed with Wrath of the Titans.
“I realised it’s not just about preparing for the fight scenes,” she says. “It’s about feeling and looking like a warrior in every scene, whether there’s action in that scene or not. Andromeda has to be a woman who knows how to handle herself. My starting point, really, was looking at the first film and thinking where a woman, who had to be rescued, who had a near-death experience, would be 10 years on.
“In the first film she had totally lame parents,” the actress says, “and it was her mother’s vanity and self-importance that nearly brought destruction on the whole city and made Andromeda the sacrifice to the Kraken. Of course Perseus saved her life, but I think that, when someone saves your life, you’re eternally grateful to them and you feel this eternal bond to them, but you’re also going to make damn sure you never need to be rescued again. Ultimately it’s a weak position for a leader, and I wanted Andromeda to be more of a Henry V, who went into battle with his subjects.
“Jonathan and Sam were really good about that,” Pike adds. “They were behind me. And it’s about not posing, in a way. It’s about being just able to ... be. I wanted Andromeda to be very natural and be able to stand still, without always thrusting a pose to look regal or warrior-like. Standing still, I think, gives much more conviction to how strong you are.’’
Pike wanted one more thing as well.
“Andromeda is a wonderful character,” Pike says. “She’s really grown up. I wanted to create a role model for little girls, a proper heroine. Her business in this film is not to get a man. Although there’s a chemical connection between Andromeda and Perseus, she wants to win his respect far more than she wants to win his heart.”