Actress Olga Kurylenko started out her Western acting career in spectacular fashion after being cast as Bond girl Camille in Quantum of Solace. Since then she’s had a steady career and has worked across several genres, though she appears to have caught the action bug, having starred in Hitman, Max Payne, Centurion and Oblivion. All of these films have seen her cast in the role of supporting character, her role the female counterpart to the male action hero. This week though sees Olga thrust straight into the action spotlight as she heads up Momentum.
In Momentum Kurylenko plays Alex Farraday, a mysterious thief pulled into one last heist by her former partner. The heist, as always in this type of film, goes awry and Alex finds herself embroiled in something much more important than mere diamonds. A cat and mouse game ensues as Alex finds herself hunted by enigmatic government agent, Washington (James Purefoy).
Ahead of the release we sat down with Olga Kurylenko to discuss the film.
What was it about the script for Momentum that interested you?
It was a great action film, very fast paced. It was the female lead so that was very attractive. I thought I haven’t been the action hero yet – I’ve been in action films but never carrying the film on my shoulders. I’ve been the lead in other dramas but not action, so I thought being a big action hero was an interesting thing to try because it portrays a very strong woman with great physical skills, very smart, always getting out of difficult situations. It’s something that obviously makes me dream as a woman and makes me identify with. I’d like to be that powerful. It’s a great thing to play with, being a woman especially, that it’s obviously so unexpected still from society. It’s very normal to see a man as powerful as that, but women are more rare, although nowadays there are more movies coming out with female leads being the heroes. It was a great thing to try.
You have a very physical role, how much training did you have to do?
A lot everyday. I was in the gym and rehearsing fight choreography with stunt people, taking driving lessons – well stunt driving lessons. For the first two weeks it was everyday because we weren’t filming, it was just training and then as we filmed we still had to find time to rehearse. It’s hard work, there was never a day off. I think we did six-day weeks, that was tough and most of it was at night, that was really difficult. I hate filming at night (laughs) because I am not good at night, I just want to fall asleep.
Two weeks is a pretty short time to learn some of that stuff.
Well I do come with some skills because I learned a lot [before], the first school was Bond and then I did other films like Centurion which was very physical. You just have to recall everything you’ve learned, so it was good that I already knew how to shoot a gun, I knew how to do some stunt driving – turning a car 360°. You just have to get back to it, because obviously if I’m not doing it everyday I have to remind my body. It’s not very long, its not like months. I think guys that I’ve worked with like Daniel Craig or Tom Cruise, I think they probably keep it up all the time because they do those action films all the time. But for me I’ll do that [an action film] for two months and then I wait until the next one. After filming Momentum I actually did a drama so there was nothing like that involved so I haven’t actually worked out in ages, since summer 2014. So my body goes through shocks where I’ll do it [training] really intensely and then nothing. It’s tough because you get very tired but it’s fun, I loved it.
Alex could be perceived as both good and bad – how important as an actor is it to play characters with shades of grey?
I think it’s unrealistic, a total good guy. First of all those people don’t exist unless it’s a fairytale. We identify ourselves with the characters better if they are realistic. Everybody has shades of grey, no one is perfect. It’s much more interesting to play a character who has flaws, who’s not perfect rather than someone who is a wonder person. I think good only exists because there is the notion of bad, otherwise how would we know what’s good? When you see the flaws the character becomes more attractive. I think it would be very irritating if there was a perfect character, you’d just be like ‘just drop the bullshit’. It’s what I actually look for when reading a script, is the character having conflict and problems? That’s always interesting as no one is perfect, we’re all a bit of bad guy.
What was the most enjoyable scene to shoot?
They’re all quite fun for different reasons, but for me the torture scene was interesting. It was just such a dark atmosphere and is perhaps the calmest scene in the movie because nothing is flying or moving. It’s quite still, but so terrifying. That place was so dark and we were shooting it at night and James [Purefoy] is so great in that scene, he’s so scary in a very calm way. Because he’s so calm, it’s terrifying. It’s more psychologically scary. I enjoyed that scene, I just enjoy working with him because it was psychological war. He wasn’t just running around hitting the right spot. It was just listening and responding to what he’s saying, it was great working on that. They both kind of become psychotic, you can see they’re both nuts.
Momentum premiered at the Frightfest Halloween event, do you have a favourite scary movie?
I’m scared of scary movies. I’ve seen a couple, I wouldn’t see them all because sometimes I look at a poster and I’m like ‘I will not watch that’ – just the poster terrifies me. Probably the scariest film that I actually like, it’s not even a scary movie, but I remember being terrified after watching Lost Highway, the film by David Lynch. I was terrified and it isn’t even a scary movie, it’s psychological. But scary no, I can’t say that The Exorcist is my favourite because I was just terrified when I saw it.
What other projects can we expect to see you in next?
So the next one is completely different, no training, it is an Italian film [La Corrispndenza) that I did this summer a film by Giuseppe Tornatore. It’s a drama, a love story between a younger girl who’s involved with a man whose much older than her. She’s basically having an affair with her teacher, played by Jeremy Irons. I play the student and he plays the teacher, it’s a very sad love story.
Momentum ends rather ambiguously are there plans for any further instalments?
It definitely ends with that hope. Everything depends on how well the movie will work, so if it works we will be delighted to do another one. I love doing this stuff so yes I would love to do sequel.
Catch Olga in Momentum when it arrives in cinemas on Friday 20th November.