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Feb 2011
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Paging “Top Gear.” Who would have guessed that tall, stately and “posh” British actress Rosamund Pike is a bit of a “petrol head,” as they say in the UK?

It’s the sort of thing that comes up when you switch the conversation from her new film, “Barney’s Version,” to her next film, tentatively titled “Johnny English Reborn.” Sharing the screen with British funnyman and Aston Martin freak Rowan Atkinson brings it out.

“I took my first paycheck and spent the whole lot of a car.

“I am SUCH a car person, a petrol head. I have my old ‘70s Citroen, NOT the “deux chevaux,” the 2CV. A Citroen DS, almost exactly like the one you see in ‘Barney’s Version.’ Of course, I have to have a much newer car, too. Something more reliable.

“Rowan and I connected over cars on the set, I have to say. He drives a very beautiful Rolls Royce in the movie, with quite an engine to it. This huge V-12. It’s something, I tell you.”

The new “Johnny English” will still be a spy spoof, taking the character Atkinson created for a series of TV ads in the UK for Barclay’s Bank. But unlike the first “Johnny English” movie, there’s a real director on this one, with big name co-stars such as Gillian Anderson and Pike and Dominic West.

“‘Johnny English Reborn’ is certainly going to be a different film experience from the first film, I can tell you that. The whole structure, the whole approach, is different. They’ve learned from the experience of the first film and the new one is much more like a Bond film. Everything is much more realistic, with everybody playing the reality of the situation, with this wonderful clown at the center of it.

“The point of it, of course, is that you have to believe that Johnny English COULD be a really good agent in order for it to work. But he’s an utter fool. He has to succeed in spite of himself.

“It’s a world where the British Secret Service has been completely re-imagined and in a comedy way. It’s a kind of ‘new guard MI-6, or MI-7 as we call it in the film. James Bond and his contemporaries would hate it. A lot more women around, for one thing. Like me.

“It’s all good clean fun. Can’t take yourself too seriously on something like that.”

And when it comes out, perhaps the lads at “Top Gear” will put out a call to get Pike and Rowan to come on the show and “do a lap” at they plug the new film.

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