Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
Torchwood star Eve Myles took the stage Friday afternoon at C2E2 for an hour of lighthearted banter, stories from the Torchwood set and tales of co-star John Barrowman’s frequently obscene antics. Myles, who was one of the Doctor Who spinoff series’ few constants through its four seasons, spoke with a fondness for her character Gwen Cooper, charming both the audience and moderator Elliott Serrano of Chicago’s free daily Red Eye.
Myles began by greeting Chicago with an affected Chicago accent before quickly acknowledging, “That was shit, wasn’t it?” Then, “Thank you for coming to my talk – I hope I don’t bore the arse off you!” Though she often feigned embarrassment at her own swearing, that didn’t seem to slow the flow of mild profanity and rude stories — much to the delight of her crowd. “Sorry, I’m like a nine-year-old.”
Serrano began the spotlight panel by saying, “Eve doesn’t really need me up here… but I want to be up here.” He then added, “Eve, I’m going to tell you, I’ve had a crush on you for a really long time.”
Myles responded, “Now that you mention it, Elliott, I find you quite hot as well.” The faux flirtation carried right through the hour.
Down to business now, Myles asked the audience: “You want a series 5?” And after much applause, she asked louder, “You want a series 5?” Once the voices of the crowd died down, she said more quietly, “Me too.”
She said a return to Torchwood would be ” a really complicated, kind of really huge, huge thing to put together,” but “we’re all hoping, keeping our fingers crossed. Everywhere we go, me and John [Barrowman], there are Torchwood fans.”
Asked what Gwen Cooper might be up to these days, Myles said she hopes she’s still keeping the world safe. “I think that Gwen is still shooting things, probably helicopters out of the sky. Trying to keep the world safe, juggling a husband, juggling John Barrowman – that’s a job, juggling John in any sense!”
Myles spoke about her discomfort seeing her face on merchandise and in promotion for the show, and described as “horrendous” seeing the Torchwood novels with Gwen on the cover. “I walked into the bookstore with my daughter, and it was just before Miracle Day, and there’s me,” she said. “With the gap.”
Again referring to the gap in her front teeth, Myles asked Serrano, “You ever kiss anybody with a gap? Would you like to?”
The actress also discussed more than a few adventures on set, beginning with some behind-the-scenes detail about the famous bazooka scene from Miracle Day.
“It was really cold that day. It was something like minus 14, it was really cold,” she said. “I had to shoot the helicopter out of the sky and say, ‘Torchwood,’ and I was completely frozen. So they ask who are you, and this comes out [through frozen lips] Tophwd.”
As to whether there was any difference between working on the first three seasons for the BBC and the fourth season in the United States, Myles immediately responded, “Apart from we had a budget?” In addition to this allowing for appearances by Bill Pullman, three helicopters and a bazooka, “The food on set was insane!”
There were, however, some drawbacks to all the delicious food, as Myles talked about one day being approached by the costume designer. In a sing-songy, Sunday-school teacher voice, Myles said the designer came into her room with a gentle “Hi, honey,” then asking her, “Have you ever heard of Spanx?” After saying in her own voice that she had, the designer reportedly then suggested, “They’re really good!”
“Does it mean I can eat more shit?”
“Give me all of them, in every size and every color!”
With the recent re-emergence of UNIT on Doctor Who, Serrano asked whether Torchwood might make an appearance on that show as well. “There’s been a crossover in the past, which I think worked really well,” she said. “I’d give my back teeth to work with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. As long as it was as Gwen Cooper.”
In the fan question-and-answer portion, Myles spoke about how she enjoyed the evolution of Gwen’s character, with producer Russell T. Davies “pushing her limits by making her a mum,” even “knowing she could walk out the door in the morning and not come back in the evening.”
Myles also revealed that she will not be voice acting for the upcoming game Dragon Age: Inquisition, as she had for 2011’s Dragon Age II. Myles voiced the character Merrill in the previous game.
“I got the phone call about doing [Dragon Age II], and I didn’t know what the hell it was because I’m not a gamer,” she recalled. But when she told her nephew about the opportunity, the boy was floored. “I don’t know, I don’t really like these things, I don’t know if I’m going to do it…” Myles remembered saying, but then the boy shouted, “Grow up, you’re doing it! You’re doing it, Auntie Eve, and if you don’t I’m never speaking to you again!”
Asked about favorite shooting locations, Myles cited Wales’ Brecon Beacons in the “Countryside” episode. “We got to run around on the Beacons and show everybody how beautiful Wales is,” she said. Myles also noted that, near the Tower location at Canary Wharf, “there’s still a dent where I blew something up.”
“We went there and I told my daughter, ‘See that dent? Mommy blew this place up.’ And she went, ‘ok,’ like it was an everyday thing,” she said.
A fan asked for funny stories about Barrowman, leading Myles to cut him off deadpan. “Don’t mention him, he’s filth. He’s not even here, and I can still smell him.” She joked that she couldn’t tell any of their stories because “there are children here.” But then she did anyway.
“I’m sitting one morning in the makeup truck – Gwen has really good hair, unlike Eve Myles – and I’ve got these hair rollers,” Myles said. At some point she fell asleep, but awoke when she felt something rhythmically tapping against her cheek (and here she made a gesture with her finger indicating the rhythm) “And I hear, ‘Morning, Evey. This is your Captain Jack talking. And that’s not my finger,” Myles said. “I didn’t have breakfast that morning.”
Asked about favorite scenes to shoot, Myles came back to the American-produced fourth series. “In the seventh episode of ‘Miracle Day,’ having John Barrowman tied up in the back of my car – nothing to do with filming!” she said. “It was great, having that filth tied up in my car. It was completely up to me when to let him out.”
“Working with John Barrowman was horrendous, in every sense of the word,” she said later. But then, more seriously, “Listen. It was the best five years of my life.”
Freema Agyeman, Doctor Who’s Martha Jones, was cited as a fan’s favorite guest star, but Myles said she was happiest about James Marsters. “It was Spike! Spike!” she said, referring to the actor’s most famous role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “There’s the scene where he puts the poisonous lipstick on and kisses her… oh, there’s going to have to be a few retakes there!”
As to storylines she’d like to see if Torchwood ever returns for a fifth season, Myles said, “I think they should bring the sex gas back.”
Later she added, “I think anything heavy with Jack Harkness is always so watchable,” noting the episode with Barrowman’s character travelling back and falling in love. “I think it should be a period piece, I think that would be beautiful.”
Later, asked whether she would like to see any of the Torchwood tech in real life, Myles immediately responded, “the sex gas, yeah. And I would use it. All the time.” She also said the lenses from Miracle Day would be “fantastic.”
Her hardest scene, Myles revealed, was the sequence in which Gwen Cooper finds her husband Rhys is dead. The scene was difficult not only for its raw emotion but because “it wasn’t scripted; it was just written ‘Eve adlib.'”
A fan with a baby approached the mic, and Myles spent a few moments admiring it before the fan’s question came. “I have never seen anything so cute!” the actress said. “I just had a baby. So don’t come too close! If you know what I mean, Chicago! He might be getting a drink he doesn’t want.”
The fan ultimately asked whether there were any scenes Myles didn’t like. “I can’t bear watching myself,” she said, noting that even if she were unhappy with her performance, “by then it’s too late. In theatre, you can change it” on subsequent performances. As the fan returned to her seat, Myles joked, “If any of you fancy going out later and need a sitter, I’m full of milk.”
Myles recounted shooting a scene for the wedding episode, which she said was “such fun–when I read the first scene, I knew I would love it.” But there were a few oddities backstage. For the scene where Gwen wakes up hugely pregnant, a prosthetic was used since Myles herself was not then pregnant.
“I was pulling the huge big belly on like a sock,” she said, which was not so unusual. But “they had to put, at the bottom of the bump, a lady piece. They put a vagina… at the bottom of the prosthetic. And I was disturbed by this, because you didn’t need it! So John Barrowman cut it off and used it for a soap dish!”
The actress also talked about playing a character on Doctor Who before her leading role on Torchwood. “It was the biggest audition of my life and I didn’t know it,” she said. “I wasn’t meant to be on Doctor Who. I was on another job. I think it was a matter of somebody else was cast and didn’t turn up.” After working with her on that episode, Davies then wrote Gwen Cooper for Myles.
A fan wanted to know about any problematic scenes that needed to be re-shot more than others. “Most of the time, all of the scenes you see with me and John Barrowman… he’s got his prick out,” Myles said, adding that this made it difficult to concentrate on her lines. “I got bored of seeing it!”
Speaking about post-Torchwood work, Myles described auditioning for Zach Braff via Skype from her home in Wales. Her daughter was in another room watching Alice in Wonderland while Myles performed, and “there’s a scene where it’s really emotional … and in the background my daughter shouts ‘Off with his head!'” Myles said she paused, considering how to proceed. “I’m like, ‘Do I mention it’s my daughter watching Alice in Wonderland? No, it’s Wales, let him think that’s just how it is.'”