`I had to chase my dream` says Bond girl Olga Kurylenko
Sitting at the head of a long table, Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko resembles some sort of queen, blessing her subjects with moments of her valuable time. The start of her conversation doesn't sound like something you'd hear in a royal court, however - reports the California Chronicle
"Basically, your body has to be like this -- your hips must go forward," she says, arching her back.
It's not often you get within a couple of feet of a Bond girl, and should you accomplish it, it's even less likely she'll spend the first five minutes of your meeting sticking her chest out at you while gyrating in a chair.
Realising the assembled all-male group of journalists is getting a little flustered, 29-year-old Olga ends her impromptu sky-diving lesson and returns to talking about Quantum Of Solace, in which she stars as James Bond's Bolivian sidekick Camille.
The film -- the second movie in the rebooted 007 franchise and the 22nd in the Bond series -- was released in cinemas last October and is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
To promote the release, Olga has come down to Bodyflight, an indoor skydiving centre just outside London where she and Quantum co- star Daniel Craig trained for the film's death-defying aerial action set pieces.
"I practiced skydiving every day for a month. I've not done it since then and I miss it," she says.
Learning how to fall out of a plane properly was just one of the skills Olga picked up while making Quantum Of Solace.
She makes it look easy on screen but reveals that she didn't know what was in store when she signed up for her first action role.
"I was in (2007 video-game adaptation) Hitman, which was an action film, but I wasn't involved in any of those scenes.
"I didn't know to what point they faked it, what point they replaced you with a stunt person, it was all totally new. When started training I soon realised I had to do it all by myself!" she shrieks.
"They trained me so hard so they didn't have to double me. It looks better that way -- when the actor does the stunts you don't have so many cuts in the action.
"I'm grateful to the producers for getting me do it because I had so much fun."
At the time of the film's release much was written about how Daniel Craig had pushed himself to the limit -- dancing across rooftops in Siena, Italy, crashing speed boats or careering around in an Aston Martin DBS.
While Olga's daredevil streak passed by almost unnoticed, she actually performed nearly as many stunts as the leading man.
In Quantum Of Solace, Camille and 007 first cross paths in Haiti where Bond is chasing up leads to the mysterious Quantum organisation. It's there he comes across global terrorist Dominic Greene, a man Camille has seduced in order to get closer to corrupt Bolivian General Medrano, the man who made her watch while he killed her parents and sister.
Unsurprisingly, she wants revenge. After a frosty start Camille realises Bond is both the only person she can trust and the one man who can assist her vengeful crusade.
While Camille isn't the first Bond girl to resist his charms -- they only share a short kiss -- she is the strongest female character in the series to date. She's single-minded, ruthless, and every bit Bond's equal.
Playing fierce, independent women has now become something of a calling card for the former lingerie model, who was born in Berdyansk, Ukraine.
She's currently based up in Scotland while filming Centurion, a British film telling the story of a great battle between the Romans and the Picts.
Olga plays savage warrior Etaine and gets to put her combat skills to good use, spending much of the film on horseback.
When asked about why she picks such iron-willed characters, Olga stops in her tracks.
"It's very funny because I realise only now that that's what happened," she says.
"Maybe it's subconscious, but I am attracted to that quality when I read a script."
She's embarrassed, almost to the point of blushing, when it's suggested she sees something of herself in these steely characters.
"I guess I am kind of like that, in order to go through everything I've been through to get what I want and chase my dream," she says reluctantly.
"I've had to be strong, and determined and focused. I have that in me, and these characters do reflect my character as well. But I'm not just that, I am so many other things. I am a human being also, so I don't want to be limited to playing that all the time."
"Next, maybe I'll go for a weak character. If it's interesting."
The last sentence speaks volumes about Olga. With such exotic looks, she could easily coast through a career playing one fluffy role after another, never offering more than something to look at for the audience, and an objection of affection for the leading man.
She says she turns down scripts all the time because they require nothing more of her than to stand around looking pretty.
"It happened before Bond, more so afterwards. It's very disappointing," she explains.
"I said no to three films after Quantum Of Solace. They were with big actors, too. I thought 'What is my character doing there? Nothing. So why should I do it?'
"I believe in what I do, and try to be serious, genuine and truthful. That's all I can do," she continues.
"People who are interested in that can see through anything else. Those that are blind to those things will be blocked to it no matter what I try.
"Some people can get stuck on looks, but I don't think it's my loss, I think it's their loss because they're not seeing what's in front of them.
"In life, if you are adventurous, you can discover things."
Born into a poverty-stricken family, Olga was raised by her mum - - her parents divorced shortly after her birth -- in an apartment shared with her grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin.
She says she never stopped dreaming about a better life, and believed from an early age something good was around the corner.
At 16 she was spotted by a model agency scout in Moscow, who duly signed her up. Pretty soon after she was packing her bags for Paris, where she still lives after being granted French citizenship in 2001.
"My background means I really know the value of things now," she says.
"I don't go crazy and I know how to treat people.
"I can compare things to my childhood, so I know what something means for other people.
"I always think about those not in my position, and I know not to treat anything with disdain or disrespect."
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