Saltburn's Rosamund Pike reveals she improvised some of Elspeth's hilarious lines

5 January 2024, 16:02 | Updated: 5 January 2024, 16:21

Rosamund Pike explains how Emerald Fennell let the actors improv on the set of Saltburn
Rosamund Pike explains how Emerald Fennell let the actors improv on the set of Saltburn. Picture: Amazon Prime Video

By Katie Louise Smith

"Emerald allowed us to usually improvise our way into most scenes, and sometimes little bits of that are captured."

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In case you needed any more reason to love Rosamund Pike's performance as Elspeth Catton in Saltburn, she's now revealed that she improvised some of her iconic scenes.

Throughout the film, Felix's mother Elspeth can be heard recounting wild stories from her youth or dishing out hilarious off-hand comments and back-handed compliments.

At one point, she scoffs at the idea that Pulp's 'Common People' was written about her ("She had a thirst for knowledge... It couldn't have been me, I've never wanted to know anything."), and in another scene, she explains why she couldn't handle being a lesbian ("It was all a bit wet for me in the end, men are so lovely and dry.")

Emerald Fennell's script is delivered so perfectly by Rosamund, but the cast also had plenty of room to improvise on set too.

READ MORE: Saltburn's Rosamund Pike says she's "astonished" by the love for Elspeth

Carey Mulligan and Rosamund Pike improvised Pamela and Elspeth's first scene together
Carey Mulligan and Rosamund Pike improvised Pamela and Elspeth's first scene together. Picture: Alamy

In an interview with Deadline, Rosamund divulged about the cast's improv moments, revealing she and Carey Mulligan improvised the start of Elspeth and Pamela's first scene, where they're talking about Oliver behind his back before he enters the room.

"Emerald allowed us to usually improvise our way into most scenes, and sometimes little bits of that are captured. It was fun with Elspeth because I could just look up anything from 2006/7 and riff on it at dinner," she said. "It was the time that Keith Richards was reported to have snorted his father’s ashes... Which was later discovered, I think, to be not true. But Elspeth was like, 'Oh, of course I knew Keith. Of course. Absolutely. Of course, he always said he’d snort his father’s ashes. When we were in Mustique, he had his ashes with him. He offered all of us his ashes.'"

Rosamund went on to explain that she would pull inspiration from British celebrity news and gossip magazine Heat for Elspeth's dinner table chatter.

"I had a ball because I’m not a great improviser unless I know exactly who the character is, and with Elspeth, I just had to pitch everything to the most extreme and most vain version of whatever it was," she continued. "She’s usually getting any story and placing herself in the center of it. And it was really fun to just live in that shallow space."

Speaking to Variety, Rosamund also spoke about one particularly outrageous and unfiltered improvised bit between her and Jacob Elordi that ended up being cut from the final edit of the film.

"There was a whole scene that Jacob and I did about his ex-girlfriend who committed suicide after he dumped her," she said. "'Well, of course she did, darling. How could she bear to live after you?' Then there was a time when I asked if a new girlfriend was stable, and he said yes. I said something like, 'Oh, good. Because one suicide can be chic, but two is unbecoming.'"

"I’m not normally a great improviser but with Elspeth, somehow, I could just sort of hear her. I knew who she was," Rosamund continued.

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