Alice Eve, 31, has appeared in everything from thrillers and romcoms to Sex And The City and now she’s boldly going to be in Star Trek Into Darkness.
You play Dr Carol Marcus in Star Trek Into Darkness. Were you aware of her exalted position as the mother, eventually, of James Kirk’s son?
I watched the series when I was younger because it was on at 5.20 on a Saturday afternoon and my grandfather used to watch it. But I didn’t know who she was until I got the part and then I did my research. Obviously, she’s a super-brain.
How do you prepare for the role of a super-brain?
I was glad I went to Oxford. I didn’t know it would serve me at this point in my career but it turns out that it all worked out for the best. She’s got a PhD; I only have a masters so she’s definitely cleverer than me.
Did you consider yourself a geek before you landed Star Trek?
This has become a bugbear of mine: the difference between geek and nerd. The derivation of geek from the ancient Greek is people who would do weird things to their faces. It’s sort of an external expression of internal angst. A nerd is something really not good. Simon Pegg told me the etymology the other day. It’s basically someone who’s specific in their knowledge and knows a lot about that particular thing. So I am a nerd, not a geek.
What are you a nerd about?
Clothes, shoes, nails and jewellery. That’s the female version of nerdy, isn’t it? Our depth of investigation into the minutiae of nothing is Sex And The City.
Having also featured in Sex And The City 2, you’ve officially straddled the nerd divide.
I guess so. I definitely had my jaw on the floor more for Sex And The City. I don’t think I spoke from beginning to end on that whole experience. I just watched it unfolding around me and couldn’t quite believe it was happening.
Did you form a Brit club on Star Trek with Simon Pegg and Benedict Cumberbatch? Simon says you all sat in the corner and drank tea together.
I don’t think we did actually. There wasn’t any cultural divide on the set but it was just nice to have people you knew. I did a film called Big Nothing with Simon where he bullied me relentlessly and then he continued to do that on Star Trek. This was my third time working with Benedict. He’s an incredible actor and a lovely man.
Were you horrified when [producer/director] JJ Abrams suggested the arguably gratuitous black bra-and-panties sequence?
Horrified is the wrong word but I was definitely ready to stay away from chips at that point. We actually shot it with silver underwear and in post-production they changed it to black. JJ came up to me at a party and said: ‘We changed the underwear.’ I was like: ‘I could have just worn black.’ I’m happy either way.
You spent time in LA as a child and you also had your gap year there studying acting. What did the US teach you?
A lot. American culture is very good at interpersonal relationships and people skills, whereas we’re incredibly adept at academics and straightforward 19th-century Victorian education.
Did being 18 in LA mean a non-stop procession of parties?
It was definitely that. But it was also traumatic. I was away from my family, who were here. I was lonely; I felt isolated but I learned a lot, so these are the sacrifices we make.
Did having famous parents [Trevor Eve and Sharon Maughan] help acclimatise you to the acting profession at an early age?
I definitely benefited from living in a family that understood the art and, in addition to that, the commercial side of it being a business.
Your mum was one half of the Gold Blend couple. Did you grow up with jars of the stuff around the house?
I think all the coffee went to my grandparents. They wanted it so they got it – a lifetime supply.
So are you a coffee drinker?
Not instant coffee.
As Carol Marcus becomes the mother to Kirk’s child, can we assume you’ll be in Star Trek 3?
There’s this thing in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air where he goes: ‘You assume and the ass will ump your shunt!’ I don’t know what it means but I always think of it whenever I hear the word assume. We’ve gone off to space for a five-year mission so you never know. She’s definitely out of his league but we can have a flirt at the very least.