Alexander Skarsgard and Florence Pugh Talk ‘The Little Drummer Girl’ Miniseries and Their Characters

The Little Drummer Girl stars Alexander Skarsgard and Florence Pugh
Charlie Ross (Florence Pugh) and Becker (Alexander Skarsgård) in ‘The Little Drummer Girl’ (Photo by Jonathan Olley/AMC/Ink Factory)

AMC just announced the November premiere of their John le Carre miniseries The Little Drummer Girl. Following up their acclaimed presentation of The Night Manager, The Little Drummer Girl stars Alexander Skarsgard as Becker, a handsome stranger who romances a young British actress named Charlie (Florence Pugh) and they live happily ever after.

No, this is John le Carre. Becker is actually recruiting Charlie to help him defeat the leader of a terrorist group. That kind of relationship with ulterior motives gives Skarsgard a lot to play.

“His job is to recruit this talented young actress and then create a fiction within the fiction and recreate a love story,” Skarsgard said. “That was quite exciting to explore because they’re very much in love in the fiction of it from Day 1 and when they started this adventure and they go through Greece. The first date is at the Acropolis in like the most beautiful, romantic setting ever. As they get to know each other, you blur that line or it kind of disappears almost between what’s fiction and what’s reality and how professional is Becker? When do you see cracks in his veneer? When does he show who he really is or how he really feels? And I really enjoyed exploring that.”

For a guy like Becker, even letting down his guard could be a strategic play.

“There were moments where Charlie might think that she sees a crack and the audience might think that, oh, this is Becker coming out,” Alexander Skarsgard continued. “He’s not playing the character anymore. He can’t hold back. These are real feelings. But that might necessarily not be the case. That could also be him manipulating her ’cause that could potentially be a way of drawing her even closer in because if she feels or senses his humanity, she would follow him even more closely. And that’s what he wants. So that game, that mind game, was quite fun to play.”

Pugh credited Skarsgard with embodying the layered role of Becker while she was more singularly innocent as Charlie.

“I think he had a harder job than I did to do that because you were actually also embodying an actual character on the show, which was tricky, right?” she said. “I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone. I was just acting as Charlie.”

When Becker starts to coach Charlie in the spy game, it gets even trickier.

“Becker keeps saying, ‘Be yourself, be yourself,’” Skarsgard said. “As he’s coaching her and telling her like about Michel, this character that he’s pretending to be, she learns a lot and grows more confident. And then at a certain point, you have to kind of set off and then really believe in what you’re doing. And then it gets complicated because then the question is like, do you actually believe in the cause that you’re pretending to fight for? Which side are you on? Which side are you on?”

The Little Drummer Girl Alexander Skarsgard and Florence Pugh
Alexander Skarsgård and Florence Pugh in ‘The Little Drummer Girl’ (Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley / AMC / Ink Factory)

After her powerful performance in Lady Macbeth, Florence Pugh seems a natural for the role of Charlie. But the modest actor wasn’t sure she would get the role.

“When this was kind of being spoken about roughly this time last year, my film Lady Macbeth had just come out here,” Pugh said. “And it was kind of one of those films where some people had seen it and some people hadn’t. I was still very much under the radar and I still think I kind of am because lots of the things that I’ve done haven’t come out yet. And so when this project came up and it was in conversation, there was this big kind of whisper around town of who was gonna be in it. The Night Manager was so big. And the news of Little Drummer Girl happening was already so big. So automatically I knew that I probably didn’t quite have a chance and that was absolutely fine. And then director Park [Chan-wook] came onboard. Within about a weekend, I got an offer which was totally barmy and completely surreal.”

The Little Drummer Girl was previously made into a film starring Diane Keaton as Charlie.

“I did watch it,” Pugh said. “I think I’d heard so much about the film before I even really read the script, and so I read the script and I read the book and I watched the film. I don’t think anyone was trying to recreate that again, I think, when I spoke to director Park. He’s got such a fresh mind. He’s completely original and I didn’t really want to do any copying. I don’t think it’s any actor’s dream to copy anyone’s performance. You can take it in and grow from it, but I didn’t want to copy.”

The Little Drummer Girl filmed all over Europe on location.

“I will say that the first thing I do whenever I read through a script is realize how many of the places you probably won’t film in because when it’s written down, it’s probably just an amazing idea,” Pugh said. “Then actually when you come to filming it, it’s probably not gonna happen. But I remember going over this scene whenever there was a new draft of the Acropolis scene. And then finally like three weeks before we filmed it, I asked someone, ‘Are we actually filming in the Acropolis?’ They were like, ‘Yeah, no, no, we are actually doing it.’ And I couldn’t believe it. And then, of course, come the night when we are probably only 40 people up on the Acropolis filming for a whole evening and no film crew had been up there before at night. Alex and I just had a camera in our face as we just reacted to walking around the Acropolis at night. And that was utterly incredible.”

The three night The Little Drummer Girl event series begins November 19, 2018 on AMC.