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Why war correspondent Marie Colvin is Rosamund Pike’s biggest inspiration

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Megan Murray
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Rosamund Pike tells Stylist why she admires the late war reporter Marie Colvin, whose life inspired new film A Private War.

Championing strong women is part of Stylist’s DNA. We spent 2018 raising the profiles of female change-makers from the past and present day through our Visible Women campaign, and our upcoming Remarkable Women awards will celebrate 2019’s most trailblazing women.

So when we sat down with Oscar-nominated actor Rosamund Pike, we were thrilled to hear her talk about her biggest hero – a woman who embodied courage, bravery and integrity.

“I’m choosing to talk about Marie Colvin,” Pike says, when asked to pick the woman she most admires.

“I play her in a film called Private War. Marie was an incredibly brave and intrepid war correspondent. She went to the kind of places that you and I would run away – as hard as we could, in the opposite direction – from.”

Colvin died in an explosion in the Syrian city of Homs in 2012. Based on a Vanity Fair article of the same name, A Private War follows the war correspondent as she reports on conflicts across the globe – including in Sri Lanka, where she lost the sight in her left eye in a grenade blast in 2001.

Marie Colvin in London, 2011 

“She sought out the human face of war,” says Pike. “She wasn’t interested in how governments clash. Or how armies clash. Or, you know, how tribes war. She was interested in: what is the human cost [of war]? Because ultimately, it’s the people on the ground who suffer.”

Playing Colvin in A Private War “got me in touch with my own fear and my own courage,” Pike continues.

“She spent time talking to people. Empathy was her great weapon and her great asset. I feel that there’s a crossover with that and what I do. Empathy is the great misunderstood, undervalued human quality.”

It’s easy to think that real heroes don’t have vulnerabilities or flaws, Pike says, but that’s not the case. “What’s interesting when looking for a hero is, you know, sure they can be strong. They can be brilliant. They can be fierce in the pursuit of what they want. But they can also have vulnerabilities, and that’s OK.”

Elaborating on why she looks up to Colvin, Pike explains: “I think I look for complexity in my heroes. I look for something to admire, but maybe not everything to admire. Marie was not fearless… She had tremendous fear and she overcame that fear because of her conviction in what she was doing. I find that a really beautiful thing and a very admirable thing.”

One of the most significant – and frightening – moments of Colvin’s life came when she began reporting on the war in Syria in 2012. It was a mission that would prove fatal.

“She went into Homs, into the besieged city of Homs in Syria, when the world wasn’t listening,” Pike says. “When the world was listening to [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and hearing that he was going after terrorist gangs, Marie stood up on CNN and said: ‘It’s a complete and utter lie that [the Syrian government is] only going after terrorists. There are rockets, shells, tank shells. The Syrian army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.’”

For a journalist to openly denounce a foreign president as a liar “is a brave act,” Pike observes. “Marie’s life was full of brave acts, and in the end that’s what I look for in my hero.”

Watch Pike share her thoughts on Colvin in the video above – then read her new cover interview with Stylist, in which she reveals the burning questions she would put to Colvin and her other female heroes, from Marie Curie to Mulan.

A Private War is in cinemas nationwide from 15 February

Images: Getty / Rex

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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