I was born poor – it’s grounded me as a movie star

From brood­ing Bond girl to Tom Cruise’s co-star, Ukrainian beauty Olga Kurylenko has risen to the very top thanks to her pow­er­ful self be­lief – and a ‘mir­a­cle’ at 13

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FEATURE - Jon Wilde

Olga Kurylenko, 33, grew up in poverty in Ukraine un­til she was dis­cov­ered by a model agent on a trip to Moscow at 13 with her art teacher mother. She moved to Paris aged just 16 to pur­sue a mod­el­ling ca­reer, which led to her move into act­ing. She has been mar­ried and di­vorced twice — to the French pho­tog­ra­pher Cedric Van Mol from 2000 to 2004 and to the Amer­i­can mo­bile phone mogul Damian Gabrielle from 2006 to 2007. Olga shot to fame as sul­try Bond girl Camille Montes in 2008’s Quantum Of So­lace, and last year she starred in the darkly comic Martin McDonagh-di­rected Seven Psy­chopaths as well as Ter­rence Mal­ick’s To the Won­der. Olga, who now lives in Lon­don, flew into Dublin last week with Tom Cruise to pro­mote their cur­rent film, Obliv­ion.

Be­ing a Bond girl changed my life. It’s im­pos­si­ble to over­es­ti­mate the global power of Bond. The en­tire world is in love with the Bond movies. Other movies might make an ac­tor fa­mous. But Bond fame is an­other di­men­sion al­to­gether. It can be dan­ger­ous for an ac­tor be­cause there is the risk of al­ways be­ing known as a Bond girl. I re­alised that and made my choices ac­cord­ingly. I re­alised that I would have to take a wide va­ri­ety of parts to es­tab­lish my­self in other ways. I think I’ve man­aged to achieve that. But, wher­ever I go in the world, most peo­ple will al­ways recog­nise me as the girl from Quantum Of So­lace. That’s fine with me.

Tal­ent is con­ta­gious. To get up in the morn­ing, go to work on Seven Psy­chopaths and know you’re go­ing to be on set with Colin Far­rell, Woody Har­rel­son, Sam Rock­well, Tom Waits, Christo­pher Wa lken… how much ge­nius can one movie take? With tal­ent like that around you, it’s easy to raise your game and be­come a bet­ter ac­tor.

I be­lieve in mir­a­cles. At the age of 13 I was on hol­i­day in Moscow with my mother. It was the only trip I took in my whole child­hood. We stepped off a metro train and were ap­proached by a tal­ent scout who told me that she wanted to sign me to her mod­el­ling

agency. That was the start of ev­ery­thing for me. If I hadn’t been a model, I couldn’t have be­come a movie ac­tress. If I’d stepped off the train a minute later, maybe none of this would have hap­pened. To me, that chance meet­ing was a mir­a­cle, like some­thing from a fairy tale. I’m one of the fun­ni­est women who has ever walked

on this Earth. At least, that’s what peo­ple tell me. I’ve been told so many times that I should branch out into com­edy films. Seven Psy­chopaths was my first com­edy. It has given me the thirst to do more.

Af­ter play­ing the ac­tion girl so many times, com­edy is a breeze by com­par­i­son. Be­ing born poor is what keeps me grounded as a

movie star. Grow­ing up, I was ex­tremely poor. I lived in a tiny Soviet com­mu­nal apart­ment with four small rooms shared by six adults from my ex­tended fam­ily and sev­eral chil­dren. My mother had no money to me buy me clothes so ev­ery­thing I wore had to be patched up, then patched again. I’ll never for­get what it’s like to go with­out. It means that I have very few ex­trav­a­gances.

I squir­rel my earn­ings away. The only thing I like to splash out on is food. I re­mem­ber what it’s like to be hun­gry and to dream of beau­ti­ful meals. Grow­ing up with­out a fa­ther didn’t cause me

any prob­lems. I’ve had very lit­tle con­tact with my dad [her par­ents, Kon­stantin and Ma­rina, di­vorced when she was three]. I was eight when I met him for the first time. We were at home and the door­bell rang. I said, ‘Mum, there is a man here and I don’t know who he is.’ And she said, ‘Oh, I must in­tro­duce you, that’s your fa­ther.’ I met him again when I was 13. I saw him in my life only three times. My mother gave me all the love I needed and more. Some direc­tors make you want to tear your heart out and serve it up on a plate. Ter­rence Mal­ick is one of those. Work­ing with him was the thrill of my life. His method is very spon­ta­neous. The ac­tors don’t know what is ex­pected of them un­til the last minute. Then he’ll take them on a car ride and de­liver in­struc­tions. When it comes to do­ing a scene he makes it feel real, not like act­ing.

If life knocks me, I refuse to give up. I’ve never let set­backs de­stroy my con­fi­dence. In 2006 I went to LA to find an agent. No­body was in­ter­ested. They dis­missed me with­out both­er­ing to check out my work. I walked away from those meet­ings with the be­lief they would soon be on the phone, beg­ging to rep­re­sent me. I had that much faith in my abil­i­ties. Sure enough, those same peo­ple came call­ing.

Sen­si­tiv­ity is both a bless­ing and a curse. I feel ev­ery­thing very in­tensely. In some ways this is a pos­i­tive. It makes me feel that I’m truly alive and that I’m not miss­ing any­thing. I’m like a sponge. I ab­sorb ev­ery­thing in my path.

I don’t un­der­stand fish and chips. I moved to Lon­don in 2009 and at first I found it to be a very con­fus­ing city. To me, it was like a labyrinth. I could never work out where one street ended and an­other started. The house num­bers were baf­fling to me. Ev­ery day I would get lost and end up wan­der­ing around like a stray dog. Now I’ve got it sorted. The only thing I don’t get is fish and chips.

Tom Cruise is a fan­tas­tic per­son. I could watch him all day long. I learned so much from him. He is one of the most gen­er­ous ac­tors.

Obliv­ion is show­ing in cinemas now

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.