Rebecca Ferguson Can Change a Tire, and Rock a Cavalli Pirate Suit

Rebecca Ferguson attends the 'LIFE' Photo Call In Berlin at Akademie der Kuenste on March 14, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: Getty Images)
Rebecca Ferguson in Bella Freud. (Photo: Getty Images)

Velcro became Rebecca Ferguson‘s style staple on the set of Life, the wrenching, often terrifying space drama opening Friday.

Ferguson, 33, plays the unflappable CDC scientist Miranda North, whose one goal is to keep the crew safe as the astronauts deal with a specimen from Mars let loose on the International Space Station. Her on-screen ensembles are about comfort and durability, not glamour, and are covered with badges attached to her with those aforementioned fasteners. She wears barely any makeup, and her hair is pulled back for practicality.

Ferguson joked to Yahoo Style that her favorite part of co-headlining the film along with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal was “being in the onesie, with socks and never being in shoes. I choose my roles based on the comfort of clothes. After The White Queen and the cloaks, it’s only up from there,” says Ferguson, referring to the lush, intricate Starz historical drama she starred in that took place in 15th-century England.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson in <em>Life</em>. (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson in Life. (Photo: Columbia Pictures)

While promoting Life, Ferguson has unleashed her inner fashion icon, exuding confidence in an Armani tux and an Emilia Wickstead dress, plus a stunning Bella Freud pink suit she wore in Berlin.

“I work with this incredible stylist called Elizabeth Saltzman. She sees me. She wouldn’t put me in a fluffy little dress just because it’s what we call feminine today,” Ferguson says. “She puts me into a Cavalli suit and boots. I feel like a sexy, smart, cool, fashionable pirate. I love throwing myself out there.”

Rebecca Ferguson in Roberto Cavalli (Photo: Getty Images)
Rebecca Ferguson in Roberto Cavalli (Photo: Getty Images)

In real life, with her husband and son, 10, she’s much more low-key. “I clean and cook and I change the tire on my car.”

Ferguson has a devilish sense of humor. Ask her how she’d react if an extraterrestrial being was taking over her spaceship, and you get the following deft answer: “I would not be in space. I’m just not smart enough to be a microbiologist astronaut,” she says.

Instead, she’s busy beating up bad guys opposite Tom Cruise. In 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, she was Ilsa Faust, the former MI6 agent who saved Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), and then walked away, telling him he knew where to find her. Presumably he does in the sixth installment, slated for a July 2018 release. Ferguson’s Faust is wise and confident and disciplined, with mind-blowing fighting and driving skills. “She kicks her heels off. And she breaks necks as well. We’re in rehearsals now. I don’t know much,” says Ferguson.

Ferguson as Ilsa Faust (Photo: David James, Paramount Pictures)
Ferguson as Ilsa Faust (Photo: David James, Paramount Pictures)

She’s drawn to playing roles that are almost gender-neutral; her Life character could just as easily have been a man. The producers called her to read the script, penned by the writers from Deadpool, but she didn’t think she could pull it off — but talking to director Daniel Espinosa and hearing his vision convinced her.

“The ISS is free from anything when it comes to race and gender. It’s the best person for the job, whether you’re a man or woman,” says Ferguson. “We live in a society and I believe in equality of race and sex and gender. We should all be open and generous and kind to each other. Maybe I portray it. Or maybe I’ve been lucky enough to work with directors and producers who share my philosophy.”

Yes, she’s a feminist. Yes, she owns her femininity. Yes, she’s outspoken and highly intelligent. But so what?

“I don’t feel like a strong, independent woman. I feel like a person coming to set and doing my job,” says Ferguson. “Which is what it should be.”

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