“He’d come to my school because it was exam time and the private schools wouldn’t let their kids out to film,” explains Myles drily, who still keeps in touch with Fellowes. Parts followed in period pieces, Colditz, the Thunderbirds remake and the thriller Art School Confidential, which also starred John Malkovich.The gods were certainly on Myles’s side when a small part in Patricia Rozema’s acclaimed adaptation of Mansfield Park got Myles noticed in the US; roles that followed included playing Johnny Depp’s wife in the Jack the Ripper film From Hell. “Each film I’ve done has had an impact on some level; there’s nothing there I’m embarrassed about.” Myles continues to earn praise while flying under the radar, which is exactly how she likes it. I like to be able to sit in a café and watch the world go by and observe people.When asked about it today, Myles becomes endearingly flustered. “I want to give you something good.” Myles looks up after half a minute.
“It was just the most hideous, most unattractive outfit I’ve ever worn,” chuckles Myles, 30.
“And with dirt and mascara running down my face, I look really grimy.” Of course, the garish outfit is soon replaced with the cool leather gear of an MI5 superspy when Myles joins the slick BBC One drama’s ninth season as Agent Beth Bailey.
Her parents are Jane and Peter Myles, who is a vicar, a priest in the Anglican Church who is in charge of a parish and receives a salary but not the tithes of the church.
Posing as an Eastern European prostitute on a Somali pirate ship in the first episode of a new series of Spooks, Sophia Myles is clad in a gaudy get-up of stonewashed denim, hot pink Lycra and the sort of cheap bling you might associate with the oldest profession.
The minute you’re famous, all eyes are on you and people are reacting to you in an unnatural way.” But she’s discovered that it’s not easy being anonymous when your love life is gossip-worthy.
Myles has had relationships with actors David Tennant and (to many raised eyebrows) with Charles Dance, who is 34 years her senior.Myles is refreshingly devoid of the ambition that seeps from the pores of many young actors; she even took a gap year alone to Southeast Asia last year.But Myles’s grubby debut is noteworthy because it’s a leap from the crinolined English roses we’ve seen her play up to now in costume dramas such as Mansfield Park, The Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and Tristan & Isolde.Spooks is giving Myles the opportunity to break free of corsets.“In my early twenties I was playing the innocent victim of the harsh uncle, and now I’ve moved into playing empowered young women,” she says, in her deep voice.But it was a bonnets-and-breeches outing that gave a 16-year-old Myles her big break a decade and a half ago, when Gosford Park screenwriter Julian Fellowes spotted her in a play at her Isleworth comprehensive and cast the vicar’s daughter as Lady Jane Grey in his 1996 TV series, The Prince and The Pauper.