Sam Riley on ‘Radioactive’ and Ben Wheatley’s Unique Spin on His ‘Rebecca’ Remake



When you think about what visionary Polish physicist and chemist Marie Curie accomplished during her extraordinary life, it’s impossible not to be impressed. Not only did she (with her husband Pierre) discover the elements Radium and Polonium, coin the term “radioactivity” to describe the emission of uranic rays, and become the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize and hold a professorship at the Sorbonne, she did it well over a hundred years ago when it was even harder for a woman to enter the field of science. In addition, her work in the field of x-rays led to a second Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911 and helped saved numerous lives during World War I thanks to ambulances with x-ray equipment.


Image via Amazon Studios

With all the she accomplished, it makes sense that her life has been portrayed on TV and the movies many times. In director Marjane Satrapi’s Radioactive, which is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Rosamund Pike stars as Curie and the film does a great job highlighting the key moments in her life and showing how hard Marie and Pierre Curie (Sam Riley) had to work to change the face of science forever. Radioactive also stars Aneurin Barnard, Simon Russell Beale, Katherine Parkinson, Sian Brooke, and Anya Taylor-Joy. The screenplay is by Jack Thorne and based on the book by Lauren Redniss.

Earlier this year, before the pandemic struck the planet, I sat down with Sam Riley in Paris to talk about the film. He talked about some of the incredible things he learned while preparing for the project, what he’ll always remember about filming in Budapest, what kind of scene he always hopes to do on the first day of filming, and more. In addition, he talked about his reaction seeing Control at a recent screening, what it was like making Free Fire with Ben Wheatley, how Wheatley has put his unique spin on his remake of Rebecca, and the crazy true story of Way Down directed by Jaume Balagueró.

Check out what Sam Riley had to say in the player below and further down the page is exactly what we talked about followed by the official synopsis.

Sam Riley:

  • Can he still listen to Joy Division on the radio?
  • How seeing Control at a recent screening in Berlin affected him.
  • What was he surprised to learn about Pierre Curie when researching the role?
  • What will he always remember from making Radioactive in Budapest?
  • What does he hope to be shooting on the first day of filming?
  • What was it like making Free Fire with Ben Wheatley?
  • How he shot Happy New Year, Colin Burstead with Wheatley after and it’s only played on the BBC player.
  • How has Wheatley put his unique spin on his remake of Rebecca?
  • The crazy true story of Way Down directed by Jaume Balagueró.

Image via Amazon Studios

Here’s the official synopsis for Radioactive:

RADIOACTIVE is a journey through Marie Curie’s (Rosamund Pike) enduring legacy from the 1870s through to modern day – her passionate partnerships, scientific breakthroughs, and the consequences that followed.

In late 19th century Paris, Marie met fellow scientist Pierre Curie (Sam Riley). The pair went on to marry, raise two daughters and change the face of science forever with their discovery of radioactivity. In 1903, they jointly won the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery, making Marie the first woman to win the esteemed prize.

After the death of her beloved Pierre, Marie’s commitment to science remained unwavering and her work went on to win her a second Nobel Prize, taking with it the responsibility for discoveries which changed the world. This bold depiction of the legacy of her extraordinary life explores the transformative effects and ensuing fallout of the Curies’ work and its impact on the

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