How Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike Transformed to Play Slain War Correspondent Marie Colvin

Rosamund Pike is no stranger to putting hard work into her performances, but in taking on the role of Marie Colvin, a celebrated war correspondent who was killed in the line of duty in Syria in 2012, the Oscar-nominated actress underwent a full mental and physical transformation for her new drama A Private War.

The English actress’s preparation included months of research, learning to walk and talk very differently — and getting over a fear of failure.

“The research process was very rewarding and did go on for many months,” Pike, 39, tells PEOPLE in the latest issue. “But there were plenty of times I felt that I would fail and I wasn’t going to be able to pull it off. It felt very daunting and like I’d bitten off more than I could handle.”

Pike’s preparation paid off. Not only has she received rave reviews for her performance but she’s almost fooled herself with how she was able to change her voice from a proper English accent to Colvin’s east coast American one.

“I was recently at a screening [of A Private War] and I was like ‘God, that is not my voice.’ It’s really not my voice. It’s kind of cool that you have this instrument you can learn to play it in may different ways.”

For more on Rosamund Pike and A Private War pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE now on newsstands 

The Gone Girl star went on to reveal that in trying to get Colvin’s voice right, she was further inspired to properly portray the journalist’s physicality — from gestures, to posture and Colvin’s deliberate way of walking.

“Just that voice coming out of me, is different from that body coming out of the whole physical form of Marie Colvin,” Pike explains. “She was someone who, my God, wore her career and her life in her body, in her physicality, more than anyone. She was such an interesting study. Once I started looking, I couldn’t stop finding more and more and more.”

A Private War is now playing in select theaters.

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