PIXIE – Interview with actress Olivia Cooke

Filmed in Northern Ireland, PIXIE is a new movie staring Olivia Cooke as Pixie, an Irish girl who wants to avenge her mother’s death by masterminding a heist, but her plans go awry and she finds herself on the run with two young men (Ben Hardy, Daryl McCormack) who are way out of their depth being chased across the Wild Irish countryside by… deadly gangster priests. She has to pit her wits against everyone, taking on the patriarchy to claim the right to shape her own life.

We were lucky enough to visit the set of PIXIE & watch the cast film some scenes.

Below is our chat with Olivia Cooke who plays the main character Pixie, recorded during a short break on set. Olivia is an English actress who shot to fame as Emma Decody in the drama thriller series Bates Motel, other prominent roles include Becky Sharp in the period drama miniseries ‘Vanity Fair’ and the Steven Spielberg directed science fiction film ‘Ready Player One’.

Here she talks about the challenge of mastering the Irish accent and also the Irish weather.



What can you tell us about the character of Pixie?
She is a very strong willed woman, a survivor who takes no prisoners and is someone who is out for a little bit of revenge but in the cheekiest, naughtiest and almost light hearted way possible. She’s really well written. It’s a credit to Preston (writer) who is not Irish and, not a woman. (Laughs) He did a really stellar job with all the characters because it feels so fleshed out and almost timeless.


What was it about the script that jumped out at you?
It was just so funny, it was really, really funny, in that Martin McDonagh vein and going on a heist/road-trip thriller comedy, that really appealed to me because that’s a genre that I’ve not really done before.


How are you finding working with an Irish accent?
Really difficult actually. Yeah, I’m not gonna lie It’s quite a challenge. But hopefully it turns out well… and if not there’s always ADR! We’ve worked with two voice coaches, which was interesting. Brendan Gunn here and then another guy Nick Trumble in London.


Did you watch any Irish TV or movies to get a feel for the accent?
I listened to Brendan Gleeson every day, and Pauline Mclynn as well. I’ve got a YouTube interview of her talking to RTE, where she’s just been asked all these questions and that’s what I listen to every morning.


I now have visions of you saying “Go on, Go on, Go on”


Have you enjoyed travelling through the Irish country side?
It’s gorgeous, I didn’t expect it actually. Maybe I just didn’t know much about it. I went on a road trip this weekend to the Giants Causeway, and did the rope-bridge, it was very beautiful, though very touristy which I didn’t expect.


Do you get involved in the action and stunts on the film?
I shot a few guns, I ran away in boots with a heel, but this this whole sequence (being filmed today) within the church is as actiony as it gets. There’s been a lot of car chases but this is the crescendo of the film. But yeah it’s fun to shoot guns, I went firearms training and was really shocked at how well I can shoot. What do you do with that information? Play Darts? Snooker?

It’s like cramming for an exam, with things that you want to do. Like when you when you get to learn a musical instrument for a film, It’s like a different part of your brain, the short term memory part where you just cram, cram, cram and you get really competent at it, then the film ends and you can’t do it for the life of you.


The film has an amazing cast. Alec Baldwin & Colm Meaney to name but two. What have they been like to work alongside?
Really lovely, absolutely lovely teddy bears. It’s really fun, because they’ve been in the biz for so long, and they just know exactly what they want, what they can do, what they can offer the camera, what will help the film & help the scene and it’s very mechanical in the way that they work, which is really interesting, where with with myself a lot of it just comes from instincts.


Did you hang with the cast before shooting to help build your relationship?
I met Darrell when he was doing a play in London called ‘Citysong’ that I went to see and he was really good, then we met for drinks afterwards and then Ben and I did a lot of our dialect sessions together in London. So yeah, we hung out a bit and then we had a week of prep where we all hung out again. It’s been really lovely because, it’s always a gamble throwing people together and having such an intense shoot and being together every single day 24/7, but no it’s been very lovely, we’ve been very lucky.


Is there anything you do before a scene to prepare? Darrell has a boxing routine he does and Alex Baldwin lets out a huge scream before each take.
I don’t really have a routine, maybe I should. I probably muck about too much actually. I probably should rein that in. I do one in order to get into the accent I say “literally belittled in Little Italy”, because its got a lot of dissonance in it.


Are you ever tempted to stay in the Irish accent out of character?
No, I don’t even use my other accent, my American accent, that I used on ‘Bates Motel’, the show that was on for so long. It’s too embarrassing.


Which part of the country is Pixie from?
We’re going more Tipperary, mid-landy just because she moved from traveling, on tour background with a mum who was a musician to Sligo when she was eight. But we want to go full Sligo because that will result in a lot of people saying ‘Excuse me’, ‘what’? (laughs)


Typically there’s a lot of rain on an Irish set, we’ve heard it rained for hours at a time on your outdoor shoots, what did you do to pass the time waiting for the rain to stop?
There was one day when we were stuck on top of a mountain, just sat in this 1992 old bright yellow Mercedes. And it was Ned, Rory, Darrell, Ben and myself, and just sat in this car and had lunch in the car for over five hours and just like told stories in our big puffer coats. It was freezing, it had just turned September.  It’s the law in Ireland that when you shoot outside it has to rain. Luckily we all got on really well, the actors that they’ve had in are all so funny. I’ve had a bit of a ball just listening to them. there’s been moments where I’ve just spat from laughing.

Do you think there are a lot more roles like ‘Pixie’ & ‘Killing Eve’ with strong female characters becoming available?
Yeah, I think I’ve been quite lucky so far in my career that I’ve got to do some. I don’t think there are many weak female characters just badly written female characters and I haven’t had many of them so far.

PIXIE is at Irish cinemas from December 4th