sophie cookson source
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MARIE CLAIRE – Sophie Cookson is the next big thing. We don’t throw that term around lightly in the marie claire office so it must be true. Plucked from obscurity fresh out of drama school by filmmaker Matthew Vaughn (the man who made Kick Ass’ Chloe Grace Moretz a star), Cookson is the 24-year old star of this month’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, alongside a pitch perfect Colin Firth. Yes, it’s an action film, and yes, it’s based on a comic book, but Vaughn’s tongue-in-cheek treatment (Firth’s dashing secret agent carries an electrocuting signet ring and a shotgun-slash-umbrella, for example) turns what could have been a run-of-the-mill spy film into a rollicking adventure worth its weight in popcorn.

Cookson – as the smart, stylish and supremely sassy Roxy – is the female lead, holding her own in a boys club of suited secret agents that includes Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Jack Davenport and newcomer Taron Egerton. Did she love being the only girl on set? “Totally,” Cookson grins. “It was incredibly empowering.”

MC: Your first film – and it was a big budget Matthew Vaughn extravaganza! How did that feel?
SC: Incredibly overwhelming… Never in a million years [had I] dreamt that I would do anything like this. When I first auditioned I got an email saying: here’s the script, Colin Firth is attached, and I didn’t take it seriously at all. I don’t put the two together, like myself and Colin Firth, it was so strange. I spent most of the job thinking I would probably be fired or something. [Laughs]

MC: Taron Egerton, who plays main character Eggsy, was also new to film. Were you guys close on set?
SC: One of our first rehearsals, all of the recruits were sat around a table and Matthew [Vaughn, director] got us to put our hand up if we had done a film before. And no-one put their hand up. And Matthew was like ‘Christ what am I doing?’ We were all in it together.

MC: We love your character Roxy and the fact she’s the only girl amongst all these men. Was it a real girl power moment for you?
SC: Totally. Even from reading the script I loved the fact that [Roxy] is not the male accessory, she’s not romantically linked to anyone, she’s just there because she deserves to be. It was incredibly empowering to play. [Kingsman] is quite a misogynistic secret service organisation. They’ve never had a female [agent]. So automatically the odds are against [Roxy].

MC: Did you have to do your own stunts?
SC: I got off lightly. My first training session involved a forward roll. About halfway through filming I started doing a lot of core training and using the acrobatic rigs that they use for Cirque du Soleil. And also for the underwater scene [MC: no spoilers! Basically there’s a scene underwater. You’ll have to see the movie to find out] we did a lot of free diving training. I know all about getting into a zen state of mind so you don’t freak out [when the water is rising]. Which doesn’t actually work. Even though you know [it’s just a movie scene] it does not matter, it’s some innate human need to survive as soon as someone tells you your oxygen is going and you [start to] slightly panic.

MC: Were you a big fan of Colin Firth’s before filming?
SC: Who isn’t? I don’t know one person on the planet who doesn’t love him in Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Love Actually… Seeing him was incredibly bizarre and surreal the first time. But he’s just a complete gent. He’s so welcoming and generous. Everything you think he would be he is, and more.

MC: He plays against type in this movie as the world’s best secret agent…
SC: [It] still slightly blows me mind! It’s just phenomenal, he’s done such a good job.

MC: Were you a fan of comic books films growing up?
SC: I wouldn’t say I was a massive fan but doing this has completely opened my eyes up to it. That’s the thing about this film, it is so much fun. I think it’s a genre where you can cleverly deal with a lot of issues, but in a playful way, so the audience doesn’t know that they’re being challenged.

MC: What’s been the biggest pinch-me moment of your career so far?
SC: Doing my scene with Michael Caine. We were in this tiny mahogany library room which was so beautiful. And Michael is just sitting there in a chair being Michael Caine. Shaking his bear hands – he’s got the biggest hands in the world – it was a real moment of ‘God, I’m really quite proud of what I’ve done’.

MC: Did you always want to be an actress?
SC: I wanted to be everything. Vet, architect, translator. And actress. I always thought maybe one day I would.

Labels: Interviews
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