Olivia Cooke Central STAFF   September 12, 2020

OLIVIA COOKE had no concerns about taking the leading role in a film populated almost entirely by men. She plays the title character in director Barnaby Thompson’s belly-laughinducing black comedy Pixie, which opens on October 23.

‘Ever since I started work, it’s been a bit of a boys’ club,’ said the 26year-old from Royton, who attended the Oldham Theatre Workshop from the age of eight. There are three other, much smaller, female roles, but that’s it. Cooke was not fazed. ‘I’ve inherently just been able to combat that quite easily,’ she told me, ‘to the point where the director, Barnaby, said to me: “You’re a bit scary, Olivia.” And I was like: “OK.” ’ She snorted. ‘Boys are easy to get onside a lot of the time.’ Olivia plays Pixie, a young woman on the lam in Ireland pursued by a host of characters who wish her ill. They include

Alec Baldwin as a drug kingpin who does double duty as a Catholic priest; Colm Meaney as her gangster stepfather; Dylan Moran as a cocaine dealer; plus youngsters Fra Fee, Chris Walley and Rory Fleck Byrne.

Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor in Bohemian Rhapsody) and Daryl McCormack are the unfortunate lads Pixie takes on the road with her. Earlier, one of them warns that she’ll ‘take a Kalashnikov to your heart’.

Cooke laughed when I mentioned that line, but Pixie’s got more of the femme fatale about her than she might like to admit.

Director Thompson, who made the film using a screenplay written by his son, Preston, said the actress was blessed with an ‘endearing cheekiness’. And it’s true; there’s an energy about her that comes across on screen.

Thompson added that while cast and crew were based in Belfast for two months, Cooke acted as a sort of concierge for the ensemble, sussing out ‘hotspots’ (her term) where they could hang out and socialise after filming.

‘That’s a reputation, isn’t it?’ she quipped. ‘We were all a away from home . . . it’s nice to break bread at the end of the day. I think maybe, much like my character, I have to find a bit of lightness wherever I can.’

I’ve watched Cooke over the years, on TV (The Secret Of Crickley Hall, Bates Motel, Vanity Fair) and in films (Ready Player One). But she’s at her best here, enjoying being two steps ahead of the blokes.

She puts her comic touch d down to her upbringing in the North West. ‘All my best friends, who I grew up with, are so funny; and they’re a little bit older than me; so I feel like I copied their personality a and made it my own as well.’

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