Torchwood, the sinister and sexy sci-fi drama airing on BBC America, has taken the United States by storm. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Eve Myles, who co-stars with John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd as Gwen Cooper.
Myles was enchanting and infinitely patient as my voice recorder chose not to work and I had to resort to pen and paper (“My Welsh accent broke your recorder!” she exclaimed). We chatted about the upcoming five-episode Torchwood mini-series, Children of Earth, the evolution of her character and how being an action figure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Q: When we last left Gwen Cooper and team Torchwood, they had just witnessed their home city of Cardiff attacked and lost two key members of their team. How is the team dealing with that when “Children of the Earth” opens and how has the dynamic of the team shifted?
A: In the first episode, the grieving process is out of the way. You really can’t be too melodramatic about the loss. In terms of this year, the theme is you have to lose to gain – they put humanity aside this year and try to save as much as they can, just minimize loss along the way. It seems harsh, but it really isn’t.
Q: How do you see Gwen’s role on the tea?
A: Gwen is supposed to be the heart of the team, but you rarely see her laugh. She realizes that people are counting on her and if she doesn’t pull her finger out of her ass, people will die.
Q: What’s the difference between Gwen this year as opposed to last year?
A: Gwen constantly evolves. She’s gone from this ordinary woman in Wales to saving the world on a regular basis. She has to constantly learn. Her life is no longer her own, which highlights how important Gwen is. She’s all business, as opposed to Jack and Ianto, who are sort of the comic relief.
Q: We certainly saw in that in the season finale last year, when the city of Cardiff was being attack and she not only took charge, but also instilled hope in her fellow police officers.
A: Exactly. She is responsible for a lot of people and she knows it. Gwen is militant yet realistic. She is terrified of making mistakes because it could cost people their lives.
Q: In the first two seasons, Torchwood was a top secret organization, operating in the shadows. At the end of last season, it was Torchwood that was out front and center during the fight for Cardiff. Is the genie out of the bottle?
A: Torchwood is more out there now. More people know about Torchwood, they’re more visible.
Q: The first two seasons of Torchwood consisted of 13 episodes, with most of the stories being self-contained. This season is more of a mini-series – five episodes of a single story. Is there an advantage to that?
A: I think you get stronger storylines. In previous seasons, we might have one or two stories that would last two or three episodes. With this story, the continuity is there. As an actor, you put the flesh and blood on the bones. Creatively [doing a single story over five episodes] allows you to put more into it.
Q: You also guest-starred on the fourth season finale of Doctor Who, where Gwen and Ianto were attacked by a Dalek. What was it like having such an iconic fixture of British television on the set?
A: The Dalek was right there on the set and, since we share studio space with Doctor Who, we passed it every day. They are big, big things and they’ve instilled fear from day one.
Q: How did you get the role on Torchwood and were you nervous going into such a hugely anticipated project?
A: You’re nervous going into any drama, but it was almost frightening doing something that’s on the back of Doctor Who. To come in on something like that, there’ll be a heightened pressure. It helps, though, because the pressure is on. You’ve just got to go in and do your job. I had appeared in the first series of [the revived] Doctor Who [an episode called “The Unquiet Dead”] before coming to Torchwood. That was directed by Euros [Lyn, director of Children of Earth] as well.
Q: What was it like seeing yourself as an action figure for the first time?
A: Ridiculous! The action figure is so, so silly! I did give my Mum one for Christmas, as a laugh. She opened up a mini-me!
Q: Are you surprised that Torchwood is so successful in the United States?
A: Hell yeah! We actually didn’t know it’d air over here, let alone be the highest rated drama on BBC America. The U.S. has accepted us a bit more than in the United Kingdom. In the U.S., they’re so warm and welcoming, whereas in the United Kingdom, they’re more reserved.
Q You also completed a series of Torchwood radio plays. That must’ve been much easier than running around and shooting off guns.
A: Actually, no! It was harder! You try being in a small room for hours on end with John Barrowman and see if you can keep a straight face!
Thanks to Ron Motta from Daily Lounge for this great interview that he did with Eve.