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Pike’s Peak

Tracing Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with the fair-haired set.

LONDON — Lately, every day has been a big-hair day for Rosamund Pike. Every afternoon, the star of “Hitchcock Blonde” makes her way backstage at the Royal Court Theatre to set her buttery locks in hot rollers for her role as an ambitious body double known simply as Blonde.

“Isn’t that glamorous? The theater doesn’t have the budget for a hairdresser, so it’s become my nightly ritual. I’ve got it down from 45 minutes to 15 minutes,” says the 24-year-old London-born actress, flexing her biceps. “If anything, it’s given me quite good arms.”

Still, no amount of discomfort can wipe the smile from Pike’s face. Since winning the role as sword-wielding agent Miranda Frost in the latest 007 flick, “Die Another Day,” she’s been wandering around in a haze of happiness. “Life is fun right now,” she says. “It’s a ludicrous, gorgeous world and I love living in it.”

And fame clearly hasn’t lost its novel allure. “I’m having these sort of delayed reactions,” she says over a plastic cup of fizzy water at the theater’s upstairs bar. “I recently saw a picture of myself fighting Halle Berry with a sword and I couldn’t believe it was me.”

“Hitchcock Blonde,” a triple-plot story about Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with the fair-haired set, is Pike’s first professional theater role and her first project since the Bond film, though she had acted in plays at the National Youth Theatre, where she studied as a teenager, and at Oxford, where she earned a degree in English literature.

On the London stage, Pike plays a generic blonde — Janet Leigh’s body double in “Psycho” — who dreams of stardom and of leaving her trashy life and abusive husband behind.

Pike has garnered good reviews — the play will move to the West End and run until September — and her performance has generated a lot of chatter. During the second act, Pike sheds her dressing gown, walks naked on stage and gives her breast to a stunned Hitchcock to fondle.

“I think sex is often unnecessary, but in this case it’s not about sex. It’s about fantasy, and how disruptive intimacy can be to certain people. It’s really the crux of the play. If it was titillating, I would not have done it,” she says.

“I’ll have no secrets from London by the end of the run,” Pike grins.

Throughout the play, Pike speaks with a melodramatic, Midwestern American accent, which she picked up by listening to a lot of Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. “The result, I think, is sort of trailer-posh,” she says with a giggle. While there is something of the posh, there is nothing of the trailer in Pike’s own background. The only child of two opera singers, Pike spent most of her youth growing up on the European continent, including some months in Italy where her father worked with the modernist composer, Hans Werne Henze.

And Pike’s life might become more glamorous yet. She’s looking forward to playing more American roles — and sharing the screen with top-billed actresses.

“I appreciated being able to work with Halle, and would be happy to do little parts in films with Nicole Kidman or Julianne Moore,” she says. “I know I have to walk before I can run.”

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