She won Best Actress at the SFX Awards, but being a new mum she couldn’t accept the award in person. So SFX dispatched Will Salmon to give her the good news
“Don’t worry, there’s not a gimp locked up in there,” reassures Eve Myles – Torchwood ’s heroic Gwen Cooper. There’s some disturbing heavy breathing emanating from behind a door in her beautiful Cardiff home. Nor is it an angry, boiler-suited Weevil. In fact it’s Honeysuckle, Eve’s pet beagle, who bounds out and welcomes your intrepid reporter with a big, wet doggy snog. Phew, for a minute there I was worried…
SFX is here to film Eve’s acceptance speech for the reader awards, where she’s been voted science fiction’s Best Actress, fending off some heavyweight competition from the likes of Cate Blanchett and Battlestar Galactica ’s Mary McDonnell. Currently taking time out with her 12-week-old daughter Matilda, Eve has also kindly agreed to a quick natter about her character and the show that’s brought her fame on both sides of the Atlantic.
Let’s start with the award. Best Actress, as voted for by SFX readers…
It's lovely isn’t it? When you win an award and it’s from the readers, that’s much nicer than a panel of people who think they know about acting or drama, and sometimes don’t. But the readers, the viewers – those are the people who are important. Those are the people we’re making it for. It’s been a lovely pick-me-up.
You beat some tough competition: Cate Blanchett, Anna Friel, Megan Fox amongst others.
Did I? No way! NO WAY! Oh my god, ask me again! I’m ecstatic! That really warms my heart. Brilliant! Oh I’m chuffed. That’s excellent [laughs]. Shouldn’t be so excited should I? But I am.
“Children Of Earth” was a huge success last year, critically and commercially. Did it feel like you were making something different to the old Torchwood ?
The answer is: completely. It was a completely different programme. We were using just one director [Euros Lyn] and we’d lost half the cast, so we really had to pull together. And we had one story, rather than 13, so it seemed like a much tighter show. Obviously we were a bit apprehensive, because the number of episodes had been cut, but it was re-launching itself on BBC1. It needed to make an impact. And it was the best thing they could have done. You had a real feeling that every night at 9 o’clock people were sitting down to watch it. It was a real event.
Did you watch it yourself as it went out?
Yeah. I don’t usually. I’m usually petrified. Honest to god it petrifies me. Theatre you can change every night, you can make it better. But with TV… My partner’s a huge Torchwood fan and I think he forgets that I play Gwen. He’s sitting next to me and he’s talking about it and he’s talking about Gwen – and I’m like, you do know that I am Gwen?!
Did that success feel like vindication after the negative press the first two seasons sometimes received?
I think the reviews for first and second were mixed, but you get that on anything. I’d be worried if everyone thought the same thing. You need opinions, because it makes it a better show. We take everything on board. We want to keep making it for people to enjoy.
Now what we all want to know is, what’s happening with season four? Is it a go?
It’s all very positive. The response we had from “Children Of Earth” was mind-blowing. Truly mind-blowing. And not just in the UK. America, Asia and Australia, it’s been a huge hit. So as far as I know, it’s all very positive and developments are happening.
They’d be mad not to carry it on…
Well hopefully. It was one of the biggest successes on the BBC last year. So let’s keep our fingers crossed. That’s my dog farting. Sorry!
No worries! On a similar note, what’s all this about a possible US version? Have you booked your plane tickets?
Honestly, I am the worst person in the world at keeping secrets because my face is so expressive. I say one thing and my face will say something else. But truly, I’m waiting with everyone else to have the thumbs up. We don’t know. That’s god’s honest truth. We’ve no idea how, what or where they’re going to do it. I wish I could give you some juicy gossip, like we’re doing 55 episodes and it’s being filmed in the Antarctic, but I just don’t know.
The States really seemed to get behind the show from the beginning, didn’t they?
Yeah, the States has always been very kind to us. They loved it from the start. They think it’s quaint and sweet and unusual because it mixes domestic drama and sci-fi. I think they loved that there were normal human beings in this extraordinary world. I went to a convention in New York last year and couldn’t believe the response. It was just extraordinary. There I was in downtown New York, thinking, “My god! People know my freckled ass.” Incredible.
They seem to enjoy the madness and the humour of it…
Yeah. They’re not stuffy about it. I think they’re sick of seeing straight things [laughs]. Torchwood ’s not straight. They want something different, and Torchwood is something different, for all sorts of reasons. It’s not scared to go into areas that haven’t been dealt with before. It’s a good, brave little show, I think.
Gwen’s changed a huge amount over the last three years, from an average copper to an action hero – and now a mother. How much say did you have in her development?
They [the writers] make the initial decisions of where they’re going to take the characters, but they’re always open to suggestions. We can give them a wish list. I had a lot of questions about Gwen’s moral status as a mum. It’s going to be hard for her to go out and know that she may not be coming home again, and that she may be leaving her little one behind. But it’s a very clever thing that they’ve done. You think you know where Gwen Cooper is going and then bang! It’s completely different. That’s why I keep going back to Torchwood. They keep reinventing her and changing what she does. And they keep scaring and challenging me.
Is there a direction that you’d like to take the character in that you haven’t yet?
Where I’d like to see her going is exactly where she is going, with a revolver in the left hand and a bottle of milk in the right, and carrying a papoose. She’s going to be super-mum, isn’t she? But not in a way that’s unachievable.
Has there ever been a situation the writers have put you in that you’ve questioned?
We’re talking about Russell T Davies and Chris Chibnall here. The day I question their decisions is the day that I quote myself as being Shakespeare! It just wouldn’t happen. I’d question how they’d got to a decision, for me to work it out, but these two are the creators of Gwen Cooper, and I trust them with her life.
And after Torchwood is done and dusted, what then? Do you have any plans?
I’d love to go back to the RSC, or back to The National. I’d love to do more period dramas for the BBC. I’ve a million boxes that haven’t been ticked. And you know what? I’d love to do some horror. I’m a huge horror fan. I’d love to do some of that sick stuff! That’s the lighter side of my job and I’d love to venture into it. And I’m a huge Tarantino fan. I think the ultimate would be to work with him, on one of his sickest films! But I’m very, very proud of this programme, and I’m proud to play Gwen Cooper. And I hope to play her a bit more.