Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell are fired up about their roles in the spy action comedy, ‘Argylle’

Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell in “Argylle”, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell in “Argylle”, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Published Feb 1, 2024


The sheer star clout of Matthew Vaughn’s spy action comedy is enough to leave fans giddy with excitement.

The cast includes Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Dua Lipa, Ariana DeBose, John Cena and Samuel L Jackson.

Talk about pulling all the stops to bag some of the finest talent in Hollywood, Vaughn did that without question.

The premise centres on Elle Conway (Dallas Howard), a reclusive author, who realises the plot of a new spy novel she’s writing mirrors real-world events in real-time.

As such, her sheltered world is disrupted as her life is placed in danger. She is rescued by Aidan (Rockwell), who is a spy, from an ambush by a ruthless organisation known as the Division.

Pretty soon, the lines blur between faction and fiction as Elle, with the help of Aidan, uncovers shocking truths, where no one can be trusted.

“Agylle” is giving Jason Bourne vibes for sure.

In a recent interview, Dallas Howard and Rockwell opened up about the movie.

Dallas Howard, who was recently in “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett”, said she wasn’t aware of the project until Vaughn reached out via email and let her know that he was directing the spy movie and he was looking at her to play the part of Elly Conway. He also shared the script.

She said: “So, I read it and thought: ‘This is definitely the best part I’ve ever played in my entire career! No question.’

“It’s an extraordinary story! ‘Argylle’ is a very entertaining movie because the characters are fun, but also because there are so many twists and turns.

“Every single person, including myself, who read the script had the same experience where you’re like: ‘Oh my God, this is great!’ and then: ‘No!’, followed by: ‘Wait, what?’, until you go: ‘Aha, yes!’

From left, Henry Cavill, Dua Lipa and John Cena in Argylle.

“It’s just one big ride. There are so many stories out there, but when you read one that is so incredibly imaginative, fresh and aggressively entertaining, it stands out.”

Recalling Vaughn’s description of the movie, she said: “Matthew described it as sort of a mash-up of ‘Romancing the Stone’ and ‘The Bourne Identity’. The idea is that you meet Elly Conway as a novelist, and then she gets taken on an unexpected adventure that is similar to the dynamic between Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in ‘Romancing the Stone’ and those eighties movies with spectacle, great characters and adventure all in one.

“And then the ‘Bourne Identity’ aspect comes in with Sam Rockwell’s character and was pretty amazing to read, just very cool and fresh.

“You know, there are a lot of elements of ‘Argylle’ that are tropes audiences love, but then there’s always a twist on everything that makes it unexpected, whether it has to do with character or plot or set pieces or style.”

The actress said she resonated with her character in several aspects.

“This is one of those characters that when you read, you think: ‘Oh my gosh, I can play this character.’ I’m the daughter of a writer and definitely a cat person, and even her costumes are all stuff that I would wear in my actual life. So, I related to her, hugely.

“She is multidimensional and at the same time very specific about who she is. Elly kind of reminded me of Holly Hunter in ‘Broadcast News’, as she is this incredibly dynamic character, with so many layers to her. Elly Conway and I are very similar women.”

She continued: “Getting to do this part felt like a miracle on so many levels and was such a joy, and so empowering and satisfying too. The character just felt specifically drawn and thoughtfully created.”

Sam Rockwell as Aiden and Bryce Dallas Howard is Elly Conway in Argylle, directed by Matthew Vaughn.

Rockwell has been a fan of Vaughn’s work since “Kingsman: The Secret Service”. At the time, he reached out to him, letting him know that he would love to work with him.

Years later, it happened.

He explained: “Then years went by until one day, while I was doing a movie with Saoirse Ronan, Matthew called my agent and mentioned that he wanted to talk to me about an idea based on ‘Romancing the Stone’. I was like: ‘Okay!’, and then he asked me to read the script first. So, I read the script and then we spoke virtually, and that was it.

“I was very excited by the first read of the script because it was what he had described and so much more.”

Rockwell’s character Aidan doesn’t fit into the usual spy mould.

He agreed: “Yeah, Aidan is an interesting character. He’s an amalgam of a lot of antiheroes that I've watched over the years played by Harrison Ford, Bill Murray, Jack Nicholson, Richard Pryor, and Walter Matthau, amongst others.

“The way he fits into the plot is really fun in the movie. And he is kind of a repressed Romeo or a Romeo posing as Mercutio.

“Aidan is tender at heart, but he pretends to be a cad. So, he sort of plays it a bit cynical and hard-bitten, and yet he's all heart. There are many layers to him as we go along.

On getting to work alongside Dallas Howard, he shared: “No one works harder than Bryce Dallas Howard. She nails this role and truly was the perfect person to play Elly Conway. I mean, in some ways she is Elly. Bryce has a very strong moral code about things and I think her character is like that too.

“We both did theatre training and related on that level, and we've both been doing movies for a long time too. I worked with her father on ‘Frost/Nixon’, so we speak a similar language. You have to find a way to have a vocabulary with people. On ‘Argylle’, we had to take care of each other because it was a long shoot and it was very taxing. I think we looked after each other pretty well. Overall, it was great to work with her.”

He was equally complimentary of the supporting cast, too.

He said: “We were so lucky. I mean, we had Catherine O’Hara, Bryan Cranston, Samuel L Jackson and Henry Cavill. You know, maybe it’s because he’s so handsome, but I don’t think people realise how wickedly funny Henry is. And Bryan is really funny too! He did some off-camera acting with Elly’s cat attacking his crotch and that was hilarious.”

Overall, fans can look forward to an entertaining movie filled with romance, action and a pinch of drama, too.

∎ “Argylle” is showing at cinemas nationwide.