Sofia Boutella is a name you’ll want to re­mem­ber; a pod­cast for food nerds; this fall’s must-read.

ELLE (Canada) - - Insider -

Boutella ac­tu­ally spent at her Los Angeles base in the past two years was a two-week pe­riod last De­cem­ber. (Hon­estly, the Al­ge­rian calls it home be­cause it’s the only place she’s ever “picked the fur­ni­ture” for.) This suit­case-cen­tric ex­is­tence means that she has got­ten re­ally good at cre­at­ing “home” wher­ever she finds her­self, be it Bu­dapest, Van­cou­ver, Lon­don or any of the other far-flung lo­cales her in­creas­ingly de­mand­ing film ca­reer takes her. “I bring my ukulele,” the 35-year-old re­sponds h

un­ex­pect­edly when we ask whether she packs any­thing in par­tic­u­lar to make the rooms feel less anony­mous. (We were think­ing more along the lines of favourite pil­lows and can­dles that smell like her boyfriend’s cologne.) “It just helps me check out; it takes my mind off things,” she ex­plains. Boutella, who’s call­ing us from L.A. be­tween meet­ings, used to pick up plants for her ho­tel rooms. She stopped do­ing that af­ter get­ting too at­tached to five par­tic­u­lar pot­ted num­bers shortly be­fore she went off to film last year’s Star Trek: Be­yond. “I named them all!” she says. “I gave them to a friend to look af­ter, but I felt emo­tional when I left them be­hind.” Now that she’ll be in one place for a while (at least un­til she heads out on the pub­lic­ity whirl­wind for two huge sum­mer films—more on that later), she’s think­ing about whether it’s kin­der to take her green ba­bies back or just move on. “They’re well taken care of,” she pon­ders. “A part of me thinks some­times it’s okay to leave things be­hind, you know?” And she’s not just re­fer­ring to plants. Be­fore be­com­ing an ac­tress, you had a re­ally suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a hip-hop dancer work­ing with peo­ple like Michael Jack­son and Ri­hanna and star­ring in ads for Nike. Does it feel like that was a dif­fer­ent per­son? “It does. I had a tran­si­tion that made it feel like two dif­fer­ent lives. When I stopped danc­ing, I didn’t work—I didn’t have a pay­cheque for two years. It was rough. There were times when I won­dered what I was do­ing and times when it made com­plete sense. But I just kept be­liev­ing in my dream.” Why did you quit dance? “I’ve been danc­ing since I was five. I did some act­ing in Paris when I was 17, but at the age of 20 I felt like I hadn’t fin­ished what I started as a dancer, so I fo­cused on that. I’m glad I did be­cause I had amaz­ing years danc­ing with peo­ple like Madonna. I stud­ied at [act­ing stu­dio] Stella Adler [in L.A.], and lit­tle by lit­tle I re­al­ized I was re-en­gag­ing with that. Part of me won­dered if I was hid­ing be­hind the fact that I was a suc­cess­ful dancer, and it raised a ques­tion in my heart. It took about three years be­fore I was able to make a de­ci­sion. But it wasn’t a prac­ti­cal de­ci­sion, like ‘I’m older so I have to think about my body and how you age in the [dance] pro­fes­sion.’” So it wasn’t an in­jury or any­thing like that? “No. I just gen­uinely love act­ing, and I’d started won­der­ing if I was do­ing the right thing af­ter a while.” It seems like the roles you’ve had, like 2014’s ac­tion thriller Kings­man:TheSe­cretSer­vice, for in­stance, are con­nected to your dancer past in that they’re quite phys­i­cal. “I think it [helped] to have that men­tal and phys­i­cal dis­ci­pline, but do­ing ac­tion is not nec­es­sar­ily some­thing I’m pur­su­ing. It just hap­pened. I don’t want to be locked into a box or stereo­typed.” This sum­mer, you went from play­ing an un­dead princess in The Mummy to Char­l­ize Theron’s love in­ter­est in the spy movie Atomic Blonde, out July 28. What was it like work­ing with her? “I met her for the first time be­fore we started film­ing, and she is beau­ti­ful, in­tel­li­gent and funny. She made me feel at ease. [Char­l­ize] is very open, and get­ting to work with her added another layer be­cause she’s a pretty in­cred­i­ble ac­tress.” Boutella in The Mummy (top) and Atomic Blonde

Did you learn any­thing from her?

“Yes, just by watch­ing her. She works hard. We had a few quick con­ver­sa­tions in which she en­cour­aged me and gave me some per­spec­tive on what it’s like to be a woman in this busi­ness. She was very re­as­sur­ing.” And have you strug­gled as a woman in the movie in­dus­try? “I’ve strug­gled be­cause I de­cided to switch ca­reers en­tirely. I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky, if any­thing. But it’s good to know what’s hap­pen­ing around me in this busi­ness, and hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with women like Char­l­ize is in­spir­ing.” What’s the best part of where you are in your life right now? “I love the sto­ry­telling. I love throw­ing my­self into a char­ac­ter to serve some­thing greater than my­self. When I was a child, I loved putting on a cos­tume and pre­tend­ing. Even as a dancer, I was al­ways telling a story. So do­ing that in movies—it just makes sense in my heart.” n

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