‘Trek’s’ Boutella is in the cap­tain’s seat

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - BRYAN ALEXAN­DER

Sofia Boutella is sit­ting in a prime po­si­tion af­ter her break­out per­for­mance as the alien Jay­lah in Star Trek Be­yond, which topped the week­end box of­fice.

But Boutella’s in­stantly fa­mous Be­yond mo­ment, in which Jay­lah ca­su­ally re­clines in the cap­tain’s chair, was a happy ac­ci­dent.

In full Jay­lah cos­tume at an early morn­ing re­hearsal, the Al­ge­ri­an­born ac­tress needed a sit­ting break on the bridge set with Chris Pine (as Cap­tain Kirk) and Si­mon Pegg (Scotty). The im­age just worked.

“I was sit­ting there and it was like, ‘Maybe I will just stay like this for one scene,’ “says Boutella, 34. “We were all gig­gling and laugh­ing. And it just es­ca­lated to us hav­ing fun with the idea.”

The chair oc­cu­pa­tion per­fectly dis­plays Jay­lah’s fierce in­de­pen­dence, and raises the pro­file of Boutella, who will also be seen along­side Tom Cruise in the ti­tle role of The Mummy next year.

With film­ing well un­der­way, Boutella’s sched­ule is so packed that a phone in­ter­view spans two con­ti­nents in 24 hours, start­ing as she’s be­ing made up for the Be­yond pre­mière at Comic-Con in San Diego and con­tin­u­ing as she steps off the plane in Lon­don, en route to The Mummy set in Namibia.

The break­neck sched­ule is fine for Boutella, who put aside her pro­fes­sional dance ca­reer (high­lighted by 10 years of tour­ing with Madonna) to pur­sue full-time act­ing six years ago. The road to this seem­ingly sud­den suc­cess wasn’t easy.

“I au­di­tioned a lot dur­ing those years, with a lot of re­jec­tion,” says Boutella. “But I knew I wanted to com­mit to act­ing. Maybe I was be­ing a bit crazy. But I was just pas­sion­ate.”

Di­rec­tor Matthew Vaughn caught on early, cast­ing Boutella as the lethal as­sas­sin Gazelle in 2014’s Kings­man: The Secret Service. Boutella sup­ple­mented her arse­nal of dance train­ing and dis­ci­pline with three months of Taek­wondo for the killer role.

“I’m a dancer, not a fighter,” says Boutella. “I had to learn all of that.”

The ac­quired butt-kick­ing con­tin­ued on the Be­yond set. “As soon as she started do­ing her thing, we knew she was per­fect,” co-screen­writer Pegg says. “She’s able to take com­mand of the phys­i­cal stuff. Sofia is the real deal.”

Boutella will be be­hind makeup once again in The Mummy. But she’s mum on specifics about the role.

“This is where the con­ver­sa­tion gets bor­ing, (be­cause) I can’t say much,” she says.

Even though she hasn’t been back to her home in Los An­ge­les in a year, Boutella is rar­ing to re­turn to Jay­lah, should the char­ac­ter ap­pear in the fourth, just-an­nounced Star Trek re­boot movie.

“I’d be ex­cited to be a part of it again,” says Boutella, who says that pos­si­bil­ity hasn’t been dis­cussed. “I’m ready to jump on the next plane, no prob­lem.”

Ac­tress Sofia Boutella.

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