Nothing beats Gillian Flynn’s female characters. The film and television world are now all caught up with the pure excellence of the author’s antiheroines and villainesses, ever imperfect but absolutely captivating as they are. Amy Adams and Eliza Scanlen most recently tackled these challenging and complicated roles in HBO’s Sharp Objects. But it was Rosamund Pike who paved the way for these multifaceted women to spring forth. She was the first to capture hearts and minds as the ineffaceable, witty, and unforgiving “Cool Girl” Amy Dunne in David Fincher’s Gone Girl.
I’ve longed for Pike to own the screen in a similar way since, and perhaps it’s high time that she made a leap to TV and conquer that medium, too. As reported by Deadline, Pike will star in and serve as an executive producer for The Banker’s Wife, a thriller series based on Cristina Alger’s eponymous novel. The show will also tap the writing talents of Meredith Stiehm (NYPD Blue), and has brought on Lesli Linka Glatter (Mad Men) to direct. Both Stiehm and Glatter will be executive producers on The Banker’s Wife as well.
Alger’s book follows two women in ostensibly different circumstances who cross paths when they unearth dark secrets about the murky world of white-collar crime. First, there’s Annabel, a naïve woman who lives a lavish lifestyle courtesy of her well-to-do banker husband Matthew. However, she doesn’t have much awareness of what he actually does for a living. When he unexpectedly dies in a plane crash, Annabel is left with several burning questions and works to uncover the truth about her husband’s demise.
In a parallel story, Marina is a society journalist ready to give up the fruits of her ambition and marry into New York’s elite. However, when her writing mentor suspiciously dies while trailing a scoop, she steps back into the fray to finish one last story in his honor. Eventually, what Marina finds out about the rich and the powerful could not only help her own case, but Annabel’s as well.
With a tightly-woven premise and compelling, intelligent women at its center, Alger’s book is definitely a page-turner and well-suited for an onscreen adaptation. Television makes for the perfect medium to translate Alger’s rich plot as well, given its complex look into the ins and outs of money laundering and other forms of financial crime.
Stiehm and Glatter are perfectly suited to bring a thrilling story like The Banker’s Wife to life. Both women initially joined forces on Showtime’s Homeland to stellar results. Stiehm shares the series’ Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (among a couple more nominations in the same category), and Glatter was nominated for Outstanding Directing on four occasions.
Both women have ruled TV elsewhere, given their extensive work on some of the most celebrated shows over the years. Stiehm created the Emmy-nominated police procedural Cold Case and the Peabody-winning crime drama The Bridge. Glatter has stepped behind the camera to helm all manner of acclaimed series, including House, Mad Men, and The Leftovers, among others.
Under Stiehm and Glatter’s guidance, Pike’s first serious foray into live-action TV is likely to succeed. Her only other regular small-screen credit happens to be in ITV’s animated children’s program Thunderbirds Are Go, a continuation to the 1960s series Thunderbirds. Otherwise, Pike’s most substantial work can be found at the movies. She even got her start in a bigger media institution than average: as the Bond girl Miranda Frost in one of Pierce Brosnan’s outings as 007, Die Another Day.
Pike’s next big part saw her transform into the sweetest of the Bennet sisters in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. She is perfectly suited for a Jane Austen adaptation, radiating grace, virtue, and shrewdness that’s ideal for the character of Jane Bennet. This then makes Pike’s turn in An Education – as an absolute airhead named Helen – both a different kind of delight and an utter conundrum. Helen gave her the opportunity to be glamorous and alluring, but she was far from the smartest person in the room.
Besides such prolific and varied touchstones in her early career, Pike has further acted in an assortment of less memorable mainstream films such as Johnny English Reborn, Wrath of the Titans, and Jack Reacher. Gone Girl truly marked a huge turning point in her career, especially as a leading lady. In Fincher’s sleek thriller, Pike completely transforms into the chameleonic and calculative Amy with expert precision. Amy is perplexing and problematic. Regardless, her clear motivations and singlemindedness morph her into a character to root for.
In a post-Gone Girl era, Pike’s career could have – should have – looked all the brighter. Yet starring in A United Kingdom, The Man with the Iron Heart, and Hostiles, and even bringing a sliver of Amy Dunne iciness to Return to Sender did not garner her particularly fulfilling results. In comparison, based solely on its source material, The Banker’s Wife already promises several female characters of note, at the very least. Although it’s unclear which protagonist Pike is up for, she could easily depict either Annabel or Marina. Her filmography ensures that.
Pike deserves a leading role that reclaims some of the power that Gone Girl afforded her, even if an exact Flynn protagonist is, in itself, tough to find. The Banker’s Wife, complete with its all-female creative team, is definitely a step in the right direction for her.