Without giving too much away, Olivia Cooke and Alec Baldwin face-off in the new heist movie, Pixie.
The British actress plays the title character who sticks it to the patriarchy and the priesthood in the crime-comedy in which Baldwin plays a drug-smuggling, gangster priest — with an Irish accent.
But while it’s all guns blazing on set, behind the scenes Baldwin, Cooke and her onscreen dad, beloved Irish actor Colm Meaney, got along like old friends.
“They were brilliant. It was so much fun,” Cooke, 27, tells 9Honey Celebrity while promoting the movie from the UK. “Obviously, they can regale you with stories like old veterans of the entertainment industry and tell you all these sparkly bits of gossip from sets gone by, which are really fun and which I really love more than filming sometimes. Just getting these actors aside between takes and asking me to tell them gossip.
“It was just brilliant, and they were really lovely people and just very lovely humans to act opposite.”
Cooke — who was born and raised in Greater Manchester — had to adopt an Irish accent for the film, as did Baldwin. So, who did it better?
“Oh, God. Well, we did very different Irish accents, I would think. So I don’t really know if it’s comparable. And that’s my diplomatic answer for that,” laughs Cooke, who in 2018 found success in the Steven Spielberg-directed blockbuster Ready Player One.
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Pixie was filmed in 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the globe. In the film, Cooke’s character, Pixie O’Brien, is on a mission to avenge her mother’s death.
But instead, she gets caught up with Frank (played by Bohemian Rhapsody star Ben Hardy) and Harland (played by Peaky Blinders star Daryl McCormack), two regular blokes who try to strike a deal with local gangsters.
The rookies suddenly find themselves way above their heads as thugs chase them across the Irish countryside, with the street-smart and savvy Pixie forced to call the shots.
But if you think her character exists solely to play sidekick to Frank and Harland, you’re sorely mistaken. Calling Cooke’s character ‘Pixie’ was a deliberate move by director Barnaby Thompson and writer Preston Thompson, who wanted to take on the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ trope, whereby a female actress often plays the quirky fantasy woman who saves male protagonists from themselves.
“Even naming her Pixie is a wink, wink, nudge, nudge to this Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope that I think a lot of people when watching this movie have said, ‘Oh, you’re just playing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.’ Well, it’s really not,” Cooke explains. “Just the mere fact she’s called Pixie doesn’t mean she is this archetype of a sidekick or a girlfriend or a conjuring of males’ darkest fantasies.
“Pixie is just really naughty, and I got to exercise that part of myself in a safe environment where I’m not really hurting anyone in real life and it was just so much fun. To be manipulative and cheeky and to be really powerful and play a character where I wasn’t really sure if she was going to be liked or not. I think playing her as this Irish woman as well just brings a whole different side to that personality. It was just really sparkly and quite tongue-in-cheek to play her.”
And Cooke had just as much fun with her co-stars Hardy and McCormack as she did with Baldwin, 62, and Colm Meaney, 67.
“I think we ended up having more fun off-camera than we did on,” she reveals. “And that says a lot because we were laughing a lot and being quite naughty on set. We really used and abused the pubs and clubs in Belfast.
“We were away from home and we were all staying in a hotel and there were about 17 million pubs opposite the hotel! You wanna break bread and talk about the filming of the day and what you thought of the scene, and just get to know your co-stars. It was all really lovely. I miss it — pubs!”
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Cooke — who has starred in hit series such as Vanity Fair and Bates Motel, and will play Alicent Hightower in the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon — will also look back fondly on her time filming Pixie because the film allowed her one last adventure before the pandemic.
“In a way, it kind of satisfied that wanderlust we had before we knew everything was going to change,” she says. “And also, Ireland as a country is so gorgeous. I’ve never really explored it before — I’ve only been to Dublin, so I was really lucky to have that experience.”
PIxie is in cinemas on January 28.
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