Eve Myles discusses her role as Gwen Cooper in the new Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood.
Gwen Cooper, Torchwood’s newest recruit, may seem like a feisty, go-getting, all-out action woman who’s afraid of nothing but, laughs Eve Myles, who plays the Cardiff policewoman-turned alien investigator, that couldn’t be further from her own character. “She really is a feisty chick and you wouldn’t want to mess with her. She’s a lot tougher than I am � the first sight of a Weevil and I would have gone home for a Chinese takeaway and a cup of tea! I certainly wouldn’t have joined Torchwood!”
The Weevil is just one of the creatures the team has to battle and this particular one lives in Cardiff’s sewers, writes Jane Dudley. Viewers are introduced to the fiend at the same time as Gwen, as she gets to grips with her new life in the crime-solving team. “The audience will see Torchwood through Gwen’s eyes. She introduces the world into Torchwood and, for the first time, life in Torchwood is explained � where Jack’s from, where Torchwood’s from � and then Jack introduces me to the Weevil. It’s almost like the audience is trying to take it all in and so is Gwen.”
While Eve admits that she did feel a little odd at first acting to some weird and wonderful creatures, she soon got used to it. “For the first couple of minutes you feel like an absolute berk but you just think, ‘well, you’re going to sell yourself short if you don’t absolutely go for it’. The first experience I’ve had of doing something supernatural and something alien was playing Gwyneth in Doctor Who, where my character was taken over in s�ances, and that was all CGI. You’ve either got to go for it 100 per cent or not bother doing it at all, because if you don’t believe in it, no one else is going to.”
The Torchwood team is very close knit and each person has their role: Captain Jack (John Barrowman) is the leader, Owen (Burn Gorman) is the team’s medic, Toshiko (Naoko Mori) is the gadget girl, Susie (Indira Varma) is Jack’s No. 2 and Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) is the Torchwood “secretary”. But newcomer Gwen soon finds her niche. “They’ve been together for years and their roles are cemented. With Gwen, she finds her feet all the way through, and that’s really good to play. She is constantly trying to find where she fits in but she naturally does fit in.
“She’s originally a police officer with Cardiff City police and Gwen comes across Torchwood and instantly finds them mysterious and wants to find out more. The thing with Gwen, which is a running thread with her all the way through, is that she’s incredibly inquisitive, and if she needs to get to the bottom of something, she will do it, she will always cross that safety barrier, she’ll always go further.
“Her skill is bringing Torchwood back from thinking that the human race and everyday life is about numbers, statistics and alien technology, what we can find, what we can scavenge, how we can use it to protect the human race. Gwen brings them back home.”
She also has a special relationship with Torchwood leader Captain Jack, who trusts Gwen implicitly. “There’s a connection made straight away with Gwen and Jack and it’s Jack who invites her into Torchwood because he takes a liking to her. They just connect very well. It’s almost instinctive and you think these guys could work really well together.
“Gwen is incredibly honest and trustworthy and she will always do what she thinks is right. She will always question Jack. In her eyes, Jack isn’t always right and that is what he loves about her, that she will always question him and push him. Nobody ever challenges him and he thinks it’s a great thing for Jack because he needs somebody like that by his side, to tell him when he’s right and when he’s wrong, and how he should work in Cardiff in 2006.”
Working in Cardiff was a fantastic opportunity for Eve who is fiercely proud of her Welsh roots. “I’m from a very small mining village in the south called Ystradgynlais. Gwen is like the action figure hero I’ve always wanted to play and I’ve had a chance to play her in my own accent and I’m incredibly proud of that.”
The Cardiff set, just 30 miles from Ystradgynlais, has to be seen to be believed, and even non-sci-fi fan Eve found it an awesome experience: “It is absolutely amazing,” she exclaims. “Every day we have to walk through the set where the Tardis is and see all the Doctor Who props. In the last few weeks they’ve been filming Doctor Who again so David Tennant has popped in to say hello.
“I have to go through things from all different planets � everyone’s bumping into everyone and it’s hilarious. It’s surreal. It’s like watching an old Hollywood movie, from the big movie studios, and people would bump into each other from different sets. It sounds really cheesy but if you’re an outsider looking in you’d think, ‘Wow’. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan but it’s still my idea of Heaven. You see it on telly and you just think, ‘I walk through that every day to get to work’. It’s fantastic.”