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Bond girl Olga Kurylenko talks at length to MoviesOnline

27-Oct-2008 • Quantum Of Solace

MoviesOnline sat down with the exotic new Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko for a little head to head on Quantum of Solace ! Quantum of Solace is the 22nd James Bond adventure in the longest running franchise in film history. The talented Ukrainian-born actress had lots to tell us about her adventures with Agent 007 and what it was like playing the new Bond girl.

Directed by Marc Forster from a screenplay written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Oscar winner Paul Haggis, Quantum of Solace stars Daniel Craig as the legendary secret agent, James Bond, and picks up the storyline just one hour after the end of Casino Royale. Fueled by the betrayal of Vesper, the woman he loved, Bond's determination to track down the mastermind behind a mysterious and sinister organization leads to Haiti, where he finds an unlikely ally in Camille (Kurylenko), a beautiful but feisty stranger.

Kurylenko’s early career was established in France, giving her debut lead performance as Iris in Diane Bertrand’s L’Annulaire. This was followed by a role starring alongside Elijah Wood in Paris je t’aime, an independent film in which a cooperative of acclaimed international directors told their stories of Paris. In 2006, Kurylenko played Sofia in Eric Barbier’s acclaimed thriller, Le Serpent, co-starring with French luminaries Yvan Attal, Clovis Cornillac and Pierre Richard.

While training as an actress, Kurylenko also achieved success in the worlds of fashion and beauty - working in Paris, Milan, New York and London. By the age of 18 she had graced the covers of magazines such as Vogue and Elle.

Kurylenko took her first English-speaking role last year in the film adaptation of the graphic novel, Hitman. Directed by Xavier Gens and produced by Luc Besson, Kurylenko gives a powerful performance as Nika Boronina opposite Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott and Ulrich Thomsen.

Later this year, Kurylenko can be seen in the role of Mina Harud in John Beck Hofmann’s Tyranny. She can currently be seen starring alongside Mark Wahlberg in John Moore’s Max Payne and plays the leading role in the upcoming French-produced drama, Kirot, to be released in 2009.

Olga Kurylenko is a delightful person and we really appreciated her time. Here’s what she had to tell us:

MoviesOnline: We heard that Marc had 100 tapes, down to 20 girls, down to four, down to you.

Olga: Really?

MoviesOnline: Yeah. So what was that process like for you? Did you submit a tape and then go through this whole audition process?

Olga: I felt the pressure. I did three auditions altogether. With the first one, I wasn't pressured because I thought “Ah.” I got there and realized I had the wrong text so I thought “Okay. I'll never...this starts very nice.” I thought “Okay, it's not happening” so I tried to memorize the text while I had a few people in front of me. They were seeing other girls waiting in the waiting room so I just let other people in front of me and tried to learn but I couldn't remember the whole thing so I half-improvised. But they called me back and I went to London and met Barbara (Broccoli), Michael (Wilson) and Marc Forster and did the second audition with the right text this time, and I got called back for the third one and the third one was again in London at Pinewood Studios with Daniel and that's when I first met Daniel. After that, I waited for about three weeks and I got the answer.

MoviesOnline: There were some amazing fight scenes and then the fire scenes, what did you expect and what was it really like?

Olga: I didn't realize, because even though you read the script, you never know exactly how (it will work). I had never taken part in any action scenes. It was the first time so, amazingly, I didn't even have time to imagine because from the moment I found out that I got the part, there was, I think, less than a week that my agent said “Pack your bags. You're leaving.” So, I went to London, arrived there and met right away with the stunt coordinator and he told me “Look, we're going to train you really hard.” That's how it started and I said “Yeah, sure. No problem” (laughs) and then we started training and I was like “Why didn't you tell me you were going to train me really hard?” I thought, “Are you sure? We're still training? How many hours? Four?” I had four hours per day for a month, just that because I wasn't shooting. They brought me there a month before just so I'd get in shape and know how to do and what to do.

MoviesOnline: Did you see any of the Bond films growing up?

Olga: Growing up, no, but much later, yes.

MoviesOnline: What kind of training did they put you through?

Olga: Fight training. That one, I had four hours per day every day. Then we learned how to sky-dive and we had to go into this wind tunnel which is outside of London. We did that two or three times a week too and then, also I learned how to use a gun, how to strip them apart, put them back together, how to aim, how to load a gun, all those things.

MoviesOnline: Of all the stunts you did in this film, which was the scariest?

Olga: To me, it was on the boat. That was the most difficult and the most breathtaking. It was like being on a roller-coaster. It was just really, really a lot of emotions because it was going so fast.

MoviesOnline: Was it on a gimble in a studio?

Olga: No, no. I wouldn't have been scared if it was. That's the thing. It was all for real.

MoviesOnline: You are the first Bond Girl who doesn't hook up with Bond and she mirrors his desire for revenge. Did you think that was really cool when you read it?

Olga: Sure. I was very happy. Yeah, I'm very happy and proud that she didn't sleep with Bond. It's okay. He slept with all of them in twenty-one movies, you know? Here is a change. But he was behaving well, so we gave him a kiss (big smile and laughs).

MoviesOnline: When you were on the Bond set shooting, did you suddenly have a lot more friends who wanted to visit you on set?

Olga: Did you say “suddenly I have a lot more friends”? That is true too. Suddenly I have a lot of friends. People who haven't spoken to me in years are like “Yea! I'm so happy.” Yeah, right. Where were you before? It's weird and I'm sure it's coming, “Oh, she became a star and she doesn't want to communicate.” No! You didn't want to communicate for years and then you are suddenly very interested. It's so easy to turn things. Probably, when they speak about others, it's like “Oh, we were friends and then, one day he wouldn't talk to us anymore.” But what they're not saying is that they didn't give a shit about the person for years and then suddenly, they're coming. That's easy. No, no, no. I appreciate people who were there when I was nobody and they were with me and are my real friends. Not just people who are suddenly falling out of the sky on my head.

MoviesOnline: This has been a good year for you with Max Payne doing so well.

Olga: Oh, yeah. How is that? I didn't see it. They told me on TV that it was out. I didn't know. I was doing this little morning show, “Yes, you have this movie that's coming out today” and it's live and I said, “Really? Which one?” They said, “Max Payne. You don't know?” I said, “No.” That was on “Good Day L.A.” I said, “Really? What are you talking about?”

MoviesOnline: Did you film Max Payne before Quantum of Solace or after?

Olga: In the middle. I was doing Bond and they flew me to Toronto for a week. It was a small part. I had like four days of shooting and then I went back to Bond. They requested me. They wanted me to be in the movie and then they did the casting and I said, “Okay. It's a small part.”

MoviesOnline: Have you shot anything since Quantum or are you getting ready to shoot anything?

Olga: Yes, I finished this Israeli film which I shot in Israel for two months. Basically, after I finished Bond I went straight to Israel. I didn't have any vacation. I don't do that anymore. Now I've learned, too tiring. But, it's an Israeli film called "Kirot" which means walls in Hebrew and I just shot with all Israeli people, Israeli director, actors, team and then there was me, the only foreigner. It was so cool.

MoviesOnline: What was it like working with Daniel? Was he kind?

Olga: (raising her eyebrows) He was kind (laughs). He was very sweet. He's a very good actor and he's very professional; always ready, always into his thing. He's James Bond. He's James Bond even in life, no. But I saw him on the set and he's already James Bond even before he was really into it, really concentrated and focused on that which is great. He's totally into his role, into his character. But he was very good; encouraging when we did all those stunt scenes and on the boat, he was encouraging me. He was like “Look, when you watch the movie you'll be so happy you did this.” (laughs). I'm like “Yeah, sure.” But I am very happy actually because I know how difficult it was to do. I know what I did now.

MoviesOnline: I've read that you are afraid of heights so you weren't too happy doing the balcony scene.

Olga: Yeah. I don't like heights. Yeah, first I was like “Oh, let me get used to that” and I couldn't really so they worked with me, the stunt guys. They said “Look, we're going to show you how it works.” They showed me that they could do it. When I see people do it, I think “Oh, if they can do it, I can do it too.” So basically, by the end I could do it. They made me do it and I learned.

MoviesOnline: In the boat scenes, was it more a matter of getting knocked around in the boat or was it that you got sea sick? What was it?

Olga: I'm actually not seasick. I love boats. I can be on a boat for days. I'm lucky with that but it was the scene because it was just going so fast and it was not just going straight. It was abruptly turning and bumping into...remember, there is a crash and I was in the boat when we crashed! They were for real crashing. They were going into these guys, crashing into them and you get hit and you have to hold onto the guys. When they scream “Hold on,” I was like “Okay, what does that mean?” It was very hard not to fall out of the boat. That was the only moment that we could hold on because we were hitting the other boat so we had to hold on. But, we couldn't hold onto anything because we were fighting so we're not attached and suddenly the boat is going really fast and jumping because there are waves, so it's really unstable and I have to suddenly get forward and do the whole thing and there's the text, so it was very hard physically to stay stable and still to do our choreography that we rehearsed and everything, just to do it well. It was really hard conditions because the boat wasn't standing on the planks.

MoviesOnline: We heard that there were some paparazzi around the set trying to get pictures. Was that your first experience with the hardcore paparazzi journalists?

Olga: No, it wasn't a pain because the people who worked on this movie were very professional and they protected us really well. There were guys waiting for us at the entrance of the hotel. What can you do? They're there. We tried to go through different entrances and exits so they wouldn't take pictures but, in Chili, the guys were sleeping there. They were there at night so they'd get us in the morning. We were leaving really early, like sometimes at 4:30 AM and the guys were there. They were sleeping there or else how would they... it was all dark and they were there.

MoviesOnline: How many months were you actually shooting? Which countries did you get to go to?

Olga: I stayed with the team for 6 months straight, all the time, because I had to train otherwise. I shot in Panama, Chile, and in London at Pinewood Studios. I didn’t shoot in Austria and Italy. Those were the two countries I didn’t shoot in.

MoviesOnline: If you had a choice of one place to go back to just to spend a week, which one would it be?

Olga: Chile. Not a week, months, I loved Chile. I want to go back and travel and explore the whole country. I don’t know if I’m ever going to have time. I mean hopefully, because it’s just so busy.

MoviesOnline: What was the best?

Olga: The best landscapes I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I’ve never seen something like that. I recommend it to everybody. I’m doing such good publicity for Chile. I recommend everybody to go to that country. It’s amazing. First of all, it’s long so there are different climates. The north is very different from the south. We were only in the north so I didn’t even see the south but I heard that it’s something totally different. They have glaciers. It’s just amazing. They have deserts, they have mountains. In the same area we would start and it would be really hot and we would be by the ocean and then we would drive and we would have to put on gloves, hats and we would be in the snow because we would drive up in the mountains, like a few thousand meters, and you’re in the winter. They have a few seasons in almost the same city. It’s just amazing and it’s beautiful. The desert, the ground is just red and brown and orange and all these colors and you just look and it’s amazing. They have this placed called Valle de la Luna. You feel like you’re on the moon. They have these salt lakes that are dry and for kilometers it’s just white and you think it’s snow but it’s salt. There are craters and it looks like the moon. It’s amazing. They have pink flamingos and pecuñas. A pecuña is this furry animal that’s between a llama and a deer. They’re so cute. They’re running around.

MoviesOnline: Prior to Daniel Craig, did you have a favorite James Bond? Who do you think encapsulated James Bond the best?

Olga: Daniel Craig.

MoviesOnline: When you were growing up, did you have a favorite James Bond?

Olga: I think Daniel is a really different Bond. Seriously, I do, because when I watched Casino Royale, I didn’t think I was going to do this and that’s what I thought. I remember I came out of the movie theater and I thought wow, I really liked this film. It was great. I really liked it and also even the Bond girl which changed. I thought this one was really interesting. Otherwise, Sean Connery was pretty good I guess. I’m not the only one who…

MoviesOnline: When you got the part, did you do a crash course and re-watch a bunch of Bond movies to mentally prepare?

Olga: I re-watched or watched for the first time some old ones that I hadn’t seen just to see how they were before and I re-watched some that I’d watched already. I re-watched the one with Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies) because I knew she was fighting and I knew I had a lot of fight scenes that I had to do and I knew I was going to do them by myself. She inspired me because she’s the one that always does all the stunt scenes by herself. She’s known for performing martial arts and she did it so well. I watched that movie just for the inspiration.

MoviesOnline: Which costume did you like best?

Olga: My favorite is what I’m wearing in the end – the cargo pants. It’s comfy, it’s totally me. That’s what I would wear every day. That’s what I feel comfortable with.

MoviesOnline: So not the black dress that was all cut up?

Olga: No. I just like sports shoes, something comfortable, and I think it’s sexy. I think it’s really sexy. The black dress was cute. I mean, it was just a black dress, simple. There were no sparkles. It was quite plain and not too … it doesn’t stand out too much which is good. I think it fits Camille because she doesn’t want to attract too much attention and because she’s doing her own thing so she can’t do that. She’s going for something quite subtle, dark.

MoviesOnline: What are you working on next?

Olga: I’m in the process of reading different scripts and meeting different people and choosing the projects I’m going to work on next because there are a few and they’re all different. I have some projects from America. Some are from France. So we have to see if I can do everything or if I have to choose a few.

MoviesOnline: Are they in French?

Olga: Yeah, yeah, sure. I started acting in France. All my previous movies were in French.

MoviesOnline: Can you talk a little about where you grew up and what got you into acting?

Olga: I grew up in the Ukraine and then I went to Paris in 1996. I went there because there was a modeling agency that invited me there to work so I thought sure. When you live in a small town in the Ukraine, you definitely want to go to Paris. (laughs) So I thought that’s great, I’ll go. I went there and I stayed and never came back because I always wanted to act. It was something I did in school in the Ukraine. It was my hobby. I was in the school theater. I looked for acting classes in Paris just to do something different than modeling. And then one day I just thought okay, that’s enough, I have to start doing something. I went to the acting agency and I just told them I wanted to act and asked them if they would give me a chance and they did. I said, “Why don’t you just call me when you have castings and send me text and you don’t lose anything. Let me try.” In order to go for castings, you need an intermediary, a person who sends you. Otherwise, I don’t know who is looking for who and where it’s happening. You need someone who calls and says this address. You need an agent. Without an agent, it’s really difficult. They gave me a chance and I started getting parts.

MoviesOnline: What was on the tape or DVD that you sent to Marc Forster?

Olga: That’s the casting. I didn’t send anything. There were 3 tours and the first one, of course, was because I’m in France. I guess they threw castings in different countries.

MoviesOnline: You don’t know which films of yours were on the actual…

Olga: Oh no, no. I told you there was a casting director and I arrived and I had to do the text. It was this audition. I guess the casting director then sent everything to them and they just choose because they can’t see the big number. I think in every country there’s a casting director who films girls and then they choose.

MoviesOnline: I thought he saw one of your films.

Olga: No, no. Actually I think he’s never seen anything before he saw me. That’s what he told me. I think someone suggested he see Hitman and he said, “I don’t want to see it.” That’s what he told me. I said, “Did you see me?” He said, “No, no. They suggested it to me. I said I didn’t want to see it because I saw what you did for the audition. It was enough. I knew that’s what I was looking for.”

MoviesOnline: Are you still living in France?

Olga: Yes.

MoviesOnline: Paris?

Olga: Yes. Paris.

MoviesOnline: Chili?

Olga: Chili? (laughs)I love it there. That’s an amazing country.

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