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