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'Torchwood' Star Eve Myles Talks 'Miracle Day'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jul 7th 2011 11:10AM
Weird things happen on 'Torchwood,' which kicks off an intriguing new season Friday on Starz. But no matter how strange things get on the genre-flavored drama, the eminently relatable Gwen Cooper remains grounded, practical and even dryly witty.

Despite the terror that can accompany working for the 'Torchwood' team, which investigates otherworldly threats to Earth, you get the impression that the former cop wouldn't have it any other way.

I recently spoke to Eve Myles, who plays Cooper, about Gwen's journey from Welsh cop to alien investigator to mother. Through it all, Gwen has remained the best friend of Captain Jack Harkness, which isn't exactly an easy gig -- and it sounds as though that role gets even tougher in 'Torchwood: Miracle Day,' which depicts what would happen if people on Earth were to suddenly stop dying.

The interview below does not contain spoilers (there are a couple of quotes at the end of the post that could be considered mildly spoilery, but you'll get a warning before you get to them). This interview has been edited and slightly condensed. By the way, an extensive interview with 'Torchwood' creator Russell T Davies is here.

One final note: Watch this space for my 'Torchwood' season 4 review, which will be posted Thursday afternoon or early Friday.

Maureen Ryan: Are you worried about bridging that gap between long-time fans and those who are new to the show? [As it did with the well-received 2009 miniseries 'Children of Earth'] 'Torchwood' has to manage catering to the die-hard fans and also making it easy for new people to get on board.
Eve Myles:
We've got the most die-hard fanbase. This season is going to feed them so much of what they've ever loved about 'Torchwood.' What [newcomers] need to know about 'Torchwood' is summed up in maybe one or two scenes in the season. [CIA analyst] Esther Drummond kind of just nails it in one or two scenes. Everything you need to know is clarified within one or two scenes, very neatly packaged. [And new fans are] not going to be able to help themselves -- they'll want to go and watch 'Children of Earth.'

I think one of the things that makes 'Torchwood' work is that Gwen is so relatable, yet she's driven to live this extraordinary life. Is that something you're still exploring with the character?
She is an ordinary girl, but she has to deal with huge things every day -- people's lives [are in her hands]. The pressure is unbelievable. She has so many decisions to make that have huge effects. You get to the bottom of Gwen Cooper a lot more in this season. I was so surprised when I was handed some of the scripts. Some of the stuff that she [says] to Jack, some of the stuff she admits to. She just scrapes right to the bottom of the barrel and she comes up with the goods. She just says, 'This is how I feel. This is who I am.'

When we meet Gwen Cooper and she's bored out of her mind. She's literally pulling her hair out. She's living in this idyllic, beautiful cottage on a hillside overlooking this stunning beach. [She and her husband Rhys] are self-sufficient and they're cut off. She's gone from saving the world to having nothing to do with it. It's a huge change for her.

Rhys thinks it's just heaven -- he's got his wife, his beautiful daughter, he's got his little family and they've got nobody to bother them. But if you open a drawer or a wardrobe or a cupboard in the Cooper house, there's everything from bazookas to detonators to guns and knives -- everything you can possibly imagine is in there. She's ready for it. She can't leave Torchwood. She's in hiding because she's wanted -- she's the last remaining member of Torchwood [which disbanded at the end of 'Children of Earth']. She's got to protect that little girl. She is on constant alert. And she's right -- trouble comes knocking on her door, she doesn't go looking for it.

And one of the things I like about Gwen is that when she commits to something, it's 100 percent.
She's like a train. If she needs to get from A to B, she will get to B, whether it takes shooting, fighting or clawing. She's a warrior.

I've heard from some of the fans who are nervous about the changes that have been made for the new season, and from fans who are still upset about characters who are gone. What would you say to fans who have those kinds of issues or concerns?
I completely understand their concerns, because they completely love and adore the characters and the show. If we didn't have their admiration, we wouldn't have a show. How the show makes them feel is incredibly important to us. But what we've got to nail and what we've got to understand is that we are creating drama. If characters don't get affected, there's no point in telling the story. It needs to evolve, it needs to change and it needs to affect. That's what we do for a living. We make you laugh, we make you cry, we make you sad, we make you happy. We evoke emotion.

I understand with people being upset at characters go. I'm upset when characters go. I'm not just losing super characters, I'm also losing best friends. But that's part and parcel of what Torchwood is. Torchwood is -- you die young. Torchwood is a dangerous place. Torchwood is -- you walk out the door in the morning to go to work and you may not come back.

[There's more on this topic at the end of the post, but it's best to read that section if you've seen 'Torchwood: Children of Earth.']

Is this quite different from 'Children of Earth'? I mean, it's twice the length...
We're allowed the space. There's an awful big story to be told and we need 10 episodes to tell that. 'CoE' -- we had five hours and we had to drum it home, quick, fast and tight. This is the biggest story we've ever told. It's massive and it's wonderful.

And 'Children of Earth' was a mystery that turned into a nightmare, as opposed to the immortality in 'Miracle Day' -- people think it's wonderful at first.
At first, it's "What a wonderful world we live in, how marvelous. We can do what we want. Fear should be eradicated." You couldn't be more wrong. This planet does not have the resources for everlasting life. We will turn on each other. It's nasty and it's ugly. It [shows] what humanity is and how we treat each other.

It's interesting that so many of the terrible acts in the world are driven by fear, and in many cases the fear of death. It's the most primal thing, really.
It really is. When people ask me about what 'Miracle Day' is, I say, 'The package is too big to describe.' It's huge, because we're dealing with really big issues. But it's not shoved in your face. It's explored.

But is there a sense of humor about it? It wouldn't be a Russell T Davies program without that.
'Torchwood' is a very funny program. You can only make something funny if it comes from somewhere truthful. And a lot of humor comes from places that are quite dark. There's a lot of shades to it. Don't get me wrong, it's massively dark at times. But then it will cut to a moment that has you laughing until you almost throw up.

There's obviously a huge part of Gwen that wants to be a wife, a mother, have a normal life...
Of course there is.

But do you think on some level she wishes Jack Harkness had never come into her life, because he's made all of that more difficult and dangerous?
It would make life much easier if she'd never met Harkness. I think she would have become a superb police officer and worked her way up the ranks. Without doubt. She's a very honest, direct, smashing person, actually. She's very strong, morally, and she's a good people person. But Gwen Cooper's bloodline, her family, has always been involved with the Rift [the place that made Cardiff a hot spot for alien activity]. She was born into it. She was always going to be [around it]. The thought of her ever giving up Torchwood or Jack Harkness -- it would never happen. Their relationship -- it's so difficult to try to explain, because they are complete soulmates.

But this year, they tell each other exactly how they feel. It's a very intimate, powerful, angry scene. They have a very difficult relationship, because they love each other dearly, but they'll never be together. And they know that. But they also can't be without each other. [There's more on this below, but it's mildly spoilery].

It's kind of interesting that now 'Doctor Who' and 'Torchwood' have these triangles at the center of them -- husbands who are a little insecure about the men that their wives are traveling with.
[This season], Rhys accepts Torchwood, finally. He knows this is why Gwen Cooper wakes in the morning and why her heart beats -- it's because there's an adventure to be had. And [at times] it made him uncomfortable because Harkness is a beautiful, gorgeous, strange being.

But he's not Welsh.
But he's not Welsh. Yet. She's working on that. [laughs]

This quote is safe to read if you've seen 'Torchwood: Children of Earth.'

"It's tough when you lose people. Especially big characters like Ianto. It's really tough and it's hard for people to swallow that. Some people won't swallow that, and that's their choice. People loved and adored [Ianto]. I can completely understand why people are so angry about it, and upset. These characters you learn to live and love with them. When they go, it's heartbreaking."

The following quote is mildly spoilery for 'Torchwood: Miracle Day'

"Gwen's been living for a year in complete seclusion -- but always knowing Jack would [come back into her life]. What she doesn't know is that he has been watching her from the time he left. He's kept her safe. The only reason she's been able to live in seclusion is because he's kept her completely safe and out of the eye of the CIA and the FBI and all that."

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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Uncle Igmar

Can't wait - I have been looking forward to this for a long time.

July 07 2011 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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