Elizabeth Alton, Real-Life Gone Girl, Gets Her News from the Radio

by Stephanie Eckhardt
April 23, 2017 3:00 PM

It's been a few years since Elizabeth Alton starred in Gone Girl, but the British actress has always found a way of staying off the map, largely by going about her days in London as somebody who isn't a highly sought-after actress and friend of the royal family would, albeit keeping a low social media and public profile. And it's no surprise that this traditionalist, and military daughter, is currently sporting a giant analog watch, which she received from IWC Schaffhausen as its brand ambassador, and which has come in particularly handy this week running back and forth to film screenings in her role on one of the juries for its partner, the Tribeca Film Festival. Fresh from flying in from London, Alton made time to sit down at the brand's New York flagship store and talk movies and her favorite television shows, in her culture diet, here.

What's the first thing you read in the morning?

I'm one of those people who does the cursory check of Twitter, just to sort of get my bearings. I'm trying to think of a polite and less fatalistic way of saying "I make sure nothing's gone to shit," but... [Laughs] well. I also will take a look at email, see if anything's come in overnight from people I work with in other time zones.

What books are you reading right now?

I'm about to do a film about Marie Colvin, so I'm slowly getting through a lot of her work, things I hadn't read before and pieces I had. I followed her work when she was alive, and her courage and voice were always so clear, but even more so now that I'm sort of bingeing her. I'm very excited to pull all of it together into a film. I've also very slowly been getting through Mary Beard's SPQR, she's a friend of my mum's and I've been an admirer of hers as long as I can remember. It's really special when somebody can take something you know like the back of your hand, and studied at university, and make it feel completely new.

What TV shows have been keeping you up at night?

The Americans. I'm obsessed, I can't miss it, it's television magic. I was also a big fan of Black Sails, and of Big Little Lies.

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?

I should be strung up right now, the last film I saw in a theater was A United Kingdom, my own movie. [Laughs] I've been doing a play in London so on my days off the last thing I wanted to be doing was sitting in a theater. Before that I think it was Rogue One. Needless to say I'm really excited about being here at a film festival!

Do you typically watch movies at home?

I try to go to the cinema, I take advantage of the perks of being a member of BAFTA and the Academy and go to screenings as much as I can, although when it gets down to it around awards season I'll power through screeners at home if I have to.

What's the last piece of art that you bought?

I bought some of my sister-in-law's photographs as gifts for friends.

What's the last museum exhibition you saw that you loved?

The National Portrait Gallery has on this exhibition of Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun, and it was so interesting to see how they both explored self portrait and self image in different places and times but in remarkably similar ways. I really enjoyed it, it was part of a larger year-long exhibition the gallery is doing around gender and identity through art.

What's the last song you had on repeat?

The cover of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" that they used in the Big Little Lies finale.

Do you have any favorite social media accounts to follow?

I don't follow many, but I love following my stylist and the makeup artists and hair stylists and photographers I've worked with over the years to see what they're doing.

How do you get your news?

I get headlines from Twitter, and I'll turn on the radio when I'm just around my flat in the morning having breakfast. This is a bit of a weird actor thing, but I sometimes find that if I'm too caught up in the news I can't focus on work, because my work is so often in a different time and place, so I try not to get too underwater with current events. Oddly enough, I've been listening to Pod Save America and Pod Save The World, because I find those guys really funny and really sane, which is a compliment these days. Some of the people I work with on House of Cards turned me on to it, and somehow focusing on American politics, mucked up as they are, keeps me from dwelling too much on things at home. Misery loves company! [Laughs]

Last thing: what's the last thing you do before you go to bed?

Stretch, tense everything up, and then let go – I don't know what the science is behind that, but it helps me relax.