The Condé Nast Traveler made a quick interview with Pike and she tells about her travels and a few more curiosities. Check out:
Where have you just come back from?
Washington, D.C. It was interesting taking a political film to a political city in this climate where the press is being silenced. I went to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is not only a stunning building but also beautifully curated. Mostly when you’re in a city working, you just want to clean your brain of what you’ve been talking about, and that’s exactly what visiting the museum felt like. I always look for opportunities to rinse the mind, whether it’s going dancing— which I’m going to do when I get back to Los Angeles—or going surfing or playing Ping-Pong.
Where in the world have you felt happiest?
Probably the remote English countryside: the Lake District, Herefordshire. I’ve done a lot of solo travel in my time, but as my work has become more far-flung, I’ve looked for my wilderness in Britain.
Name a place that lived up to the hype.
Petra, in Jordan. I was filming A Private War in the country, and I knew I couldn’t leave without spending a night in the desert. Petra takes your breath away—it’s astonishing. You walk down this long carriageway, which is like a slick of marbleized rock, then you come to the first building and you can’t believe the craftsmanship. After that I took my children out to Wadi Rum with a Bedouin guide. We rode camels and slept under the stars—no tent, just blankets on a moonlit night. My little boy said to me, “This is the biggest bedroom I’ve ever had.”
What is your favorite city?
It always used to be Tokyo for its strangeness, because when I first went there it was so alien. I couldn’t make sense of the signage because nothing was written in the Roman alphabet, and I found it electrifying. That sensation of total otherness is harder and harder to find. It was captured brilliantly by Sofia Coppola in Lost in Translation, the magic and mystery and romance—that was the Tokyo I first discovered. Then when I went back, it felt different; still exciting, but in another way.
Which is your road most traveled?
Probably the Westway in London. J.G. Ballard wrote an amazing love letter to the Westway, which I promise will make you see it in a completely fresh light. It’s like a total vision of modernity and the future, even though I’m usually crawling in traffic on it.
Describe your favorite view.
Hanalei Bay, on Kauai in Hawaii, which is said to have inspired Puff, the Magic Dragon. The mountains do look like a dragon. It’s complete beauty, untouched.
Where did you go on your first vacation without your parents?
First Cyprus, where one of my closest friends was from, and then Cambodia and Vietnam, where I went on my big solo adventure after university. In fact, Angkor Wat would be the other place that lived up to the hype. I found a guide who took me around on the back of his motorbike and had an uncanny ability to know where other tourists would not be. We got up at dawn and I climbed to the top of one of the temples in the dark to see what he said would be the best sunrise ever. It was like fire rising up on the horizon. I had no money and it was all done on a wing and a prayer, but sometimes you meet extraordinary people and you have to listen to them.
Tell us about a great little place you know.
Graybarn Cottage, attached to the Mill House Inn in East Hampton, is an amazing family retreat. I used to think the Hamptons was this mystical land I would probably never go to, then I realized that it’s got the most incredible coastline and is easy to get to.
And the nicest hotel you’ve stayed in?
The best in the world is Le Bristol in Paris—the level of service is in another league. I don’t know how they do it, how they’re so attentive, without ever being intrusive. It’s the definition of impeccable. But then there’s also somewhere like the Post Ranch Inn in California, which is heaven on earth. You think, “How can I have the privilege of this view?” It feels discreet and hidden—a very exclusive experience.
Sightseeing or lounge chair?
I don’t get to lie on beaches with books anymore, because I have two young children and I’m too busy building sandcastles and burying people in sand, or being buried. I’m tending more toward “doing” holidays and learning things: skiing, surfing. As I’m now playing Moominmamma in a TV show, I’ve got my sights set on Finland. I have a dream to go to the Levin Iglut there.
Confess to one thing you’ve taken from a hotel room.
Notepads from Chateau Marmont; I love them. And laundry bags—they are a small gesture to make your bedroom feel like a hotel, a reminder of the distant dream, and then an appreciation of how it doesn’t cost nine dollars to wash your underwear.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met on your travels?
Sivarama Swami, the leader of the Hare Krishna in Hungary. Not that I’m a member, but he’s one of the cleverest men I’ve met. He has a self-sustaining eco-farm two hours outside Budapest, where I made the film Radioactive this year. For a philosophical discussion and the vision of a community off the grid, it was quite something.
Which foreign phrase do you use most?
Pouce levé, which means ‘thumbs up’ in French, but I don’t think the French actually use it. Maybe we can get it to catch on.
What would you like to find in a minibar?
Dark chocolate, something rare and small batch, something surprising. And Widow Jane Bourbon, which I once found in my room at New York’s Crosby Street Hotel.