ROSE BYRNE STARS IN NEW SPY SPOOF
It’s raining. Rose Byrne dashes through the drops and ducks inside a cafe, down the road from the apartment she keeps in Sydney, because Australia “still feels like home”, even though she’s barely here.
The rest of the time she’s in New York, where she’s lived for eight years, taking meetings in LA or filming somewhere exotic, because Byrne is an Alist Hollywood star.
Not that you would know it to meet her.
“Hello!” she sings out, shaking the drizzle off her ridiculously great hair. “Have I kept you waiting? Oh no, I hope not.”
At 35, she still looks like a 20-something but not in a Botox-y way. She’s fresh-faced in a white T-shirt and blue jeans, carrying a simple black Oroton bag (she’s the face of the brand).
We’re here to talk about her new movie, a big-budget spy spoof called, appropriately, Spy. Paul Feig, who brought us
Bridesmaids, directs. If you’re one of the 0.01 per cent of the population who hasn’t seen Byrne in that movie, you must – she’s superb.
In Spy, she plays a villain, the spoiled Russian heiress Raina Boyanov, who is determined to steal a nuclear weapon (as you do).
Raina’s hair is bigger than she is and is the butt of many of the movie’s jokes.
Byrne’s Bridesmaids co-star Melissa McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, the unlikely spy who must stop Raina and her hair.
However, Cooper is not a proper spy, although she did go through training before she got her desk job. But she turns out to be a truly excellent arse-kicker. Cooper is a back-of-house “CIA analyst”, which means it is her job to give spy support, through an earpiece, to the dashing cliche that is Bradley Fine (Jude Law).
When, spoiler alert, Fine can’t continue his mission, Cooper has to step in, undercover, in a series of bad wigs. Does she have what it takes to foil the evil, beautiful Raina?
UK comedian Miranda Hart and Byrne’s real-life boyfriend Bobby Cannavale also star and there’s an amusing cameo from 50 Cent.
The results could have been simply silly, but, in fact, Spy is brilliant. Feig has created a slick, genuinely funny and entertaining romp. He was right to cast Byrne, who says he approached her because they clicked on Bridesmaids.
“It doesn’t always work that way; it’s very competitive, you know?’’ she says. “It’s tough to get great parts.”
I can’t think of anyone who could nail Raina’s weird mix of drop-dead gorgeous and creepy wrongness as well as Byrne does. It’s to do with the fine balance of her flawless, somewhat icy beauty and her ability to ham it up convincingly, whether she’s being dragged along a street in sky-high heels, her head stuck up Hart’s jacket for “protection”, or engaging in a bizarre physical fight aboard a private jet that sees her pinned down by some bloke’s bum.
She’s got slapstick down pat. Where does she get it from?
“Fawlty Towers,” she laughs.
“Basil Fawlty, to me, is the greatest, and Manuel. That stuff is so beautifully choreographed.”
IT’S TO DO WITH THE FINE BALANCE OF HER FLAWLESS, ICY BEAUTY AND HER ABILITY TO HAM IT UP
Spy opens today
Bridesmaids co-stars Rose Byrne (left) and Melissa McCarthy are back together in Spy.