Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike is a changed woman—at least she is on the big screen. The British-born Pike’s big break came nearly a decade ago when, at 23, she starred as Anglo ex-Olympian double agent–turned–lethal swordswoman Miranda Frost in the James Bond film Die Another Day (2002). But the actress, now 32, spent most of the last 10 years fighting the inevitable wave of typecasting that followed playing a Bond girl, as she received multiple offers to play the “icy British maiden” but little in the way of opportunities to spread her wings. That, though, is about to change with Pike’s funny, emotional, and surprisingly unfrosty performance in the recently released dramedy Barney’s Version, based on Canadian author Mordecai Richler’s 1997 novel. In it, she plays Miriam, the third wife and one true love of the film’s title character, Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti), a TV producer who, remarkably, begins to woo Miriam during his wedding to his unnamed second wife, and whose memory later deteriorates as a result of Alzheimer’s. Pike will follow that up by mixing it up with comedic legends Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and Jack Black in The Big Year, a farce about a bird-watching competition. And she’s just finished filming the sequel to the comedy spy caper Johnny English, in which her character, a behavioral psychologist, tries to crack the psyche of the accidental secret agent. Pike credits her recent role as a ditsy blonde who becomes de facto mentor to Carey Mulligan’s character in Lone Scherfig’s An Education (2009) with helping people to see her in a new light. “I think my character [in An Education] really engaged people,” she says. “They realized that I could be funny. People are so keen to pigeonhole you in this industry that to bust out of that is always good.” Comedy has always come naturally to the actress away from the set. “My life is pretty ludicrous and I feel ridiculous a lot of the time,” she admits. As proof, she points out that although she’s been working consistently since 1998, she owns no property and lives hand to mouth while darting between L.A. and London. “The impression one gives is that you are a swanlike figure gliding through events and premieres,” she says. “No one sees the webbed feet flapping away underneath.”

Photos: Rosamund Pike in Los Angeles, December 2010. Below: Sweater: Jason Wu for Tse. Above: Sweater: Stella Mccartney. Cosmetics: Chanel, including Ombres Contraste Duo Eyeshadow Duo in Taupe-Delicat. Styling: Ryan Hastings. Hair: Maranda/The Wall Group. Makeup: Rachel Goodwin/The Wall Group.