LES­SON FROM A MAS­TER

OLGA KURYLENKO IS IN AWE OF ROWAN ATKIN­SON’S TA­LENT

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - MOVIES - WORDS: SEANNA CRONIN Johnny Eng­lish Strikes Again is in cin­e­mas on Thurs­day.

Whether you’re sav­ing the world or just try­ing to make it laugh, star­ring in a spy film is se­ri­ous busi­ness. Olga Kurylenko should know. The Ukra­nian-born ac­tor starred op­po­site Daniel Craig in his sec­ond out­ing as James Bond in Quan­tum of So­lace.

Now she’s putting her com­edy chops, most re­cently seen in The Death of Stalin, to good use in Johnny Eng­lish Strikes Again.

Kurylenko plays Ophe­lia, a mys­te­ri­ous woman who ap­pears to be work­ing for tech bil­lion­aire Ja­son Volta in funny man Rowan Atkin­son’s lat­est spy spoof.

“Fun­nily enough on set it’s all pretty se­ri­ous,” she says. “It’s work. Ev­ery­thing has to be co-or­di­nated, the scene needs to be right and the funny bit needs to be right. There’s a lot of con­cen­tra­tion around it and it’s very se­ri­ous when you’re there, but at the same time there is this light side be­cause the scenes you’re do­ing are funny.

“And of course hav­ing a part­ner like Rowan right in front of you mak­ing faces is quite pleasant.”

De­spite his long and il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer in com­edy span­ning nearly four decades, Atkin­son was a calm­ing pres­ence on the set.

“He’s a calm and very thought­ful per­son, not at all like his char­ac­ters,” Kurylenko says.

“I’m a fan of his, but once we started work­ing I was more learn­ing from him, and ob­serv­ing. It’s so dif­fer­ent from what he is in real life and what he does on cam­era, and when they go ‘ac­tion’ you see that very thought­ful con­cen­trated and se­ri­ous per­son sud­denly go into the sil­li­est face. Then from take to take, he changes and searches. He’s one of the most in­ter­est­ing peo­ple to look at on the screen.

“I would just come to watch even if I wasn’t in the scene. You just hear huge laughs from the peo­ple be­hind the mon­i­tor. That doesn’t hap­pen on other films.”

Af­ter a cy­ber-at­tack re­veals the iden­tity of all of the ac­tive un­der­cover agents in Bri­tain, Johnny Eng­lish is forced to come out of re­tire­ment to find the mas­ter­mind hacker.

His in­ves­ti­ga­tion leads him to a yacht owned by Volta, where he stum­bles into Ophe­lia work­ing un­der­cover. The two spies team up in the hopes of thwart­ing his grand scheme at the G20 Sum­mit in Scot­land.

Ophe­lia is cer­tainly not the type of woman who sits on the side­lines and she proves to be a use­ful ally for Eng­lish.

“It’s al­ways nice when there’s a real ac­tion and pur­pose to the char­ac­ter,” Kurylenko says.

“Of course she is on her own mis­sion and we dis­cover what she’s about. Ob­vi­ously it’s great to have a char­ac­ter who’s not just a bit of sparkling arm candy.

“What’s in­ter­est­ing about her is she is pro­fes­sional and dan­ger­ous and all of that, but she is quite glam­orous as well. She’s got it all. She is the real deal.”

Kurylenko took part in her fair share of ac­tion thanks to Atkin­son’s brand of phys­i­cal com­edy and the re­quire­ments of in­ter­na­tional es­pi­onage. “I love it when I get to do stunts,” she says. “There was a point there where I was do­ing quite a few ac­tion films back to back, but then I went away from that. I re­alised I missed it, which is an­other rea­son why it’s so much fun to be in this film. When they told me I had to be hit in the face by a door (for one scene) I got re­ally ex­cited. When­ever I see the stunt guys com­ing I go ‘Are we go­ing to do this or are we go­ing to do this?’

“I feel like I’m in my own el­e­ment do­ing com­edy, I don’t know why, but if there is more com­ing my way I’ll take it.”

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