Atomic Blonde star on working with Hollywood’s finest
Theron knocks Boutella out at first then thrills her as they co-act
SHE may have just starred in The Mummy opposite Tom Cruise, but Sofia Boutella was still star-struck by Charlize Theron.
The women play British (Charlize) and French (Sofia) agents working in Berlin during the Cold War in David Leitch’s new action film Atomic Blonde.
First rising to fame as an assassin in Kingsman: The Secret Service, Sofia is also well known for her role in Star Trek Beyond. As she reveals in this Q&A, the Algerian-born actor was thrilled to work with Charlize after admiring her Oscar-winning performance in Monster.
Q: How did you get the role?
A: I was filming Star Trek: Beyond in Vancouver when I got the audition. I was thrilled by what I read and I really wanted to be a part of it. First, we did a Skype audition, so I went to a casting studio in the city and David (Leitch) was on the other end of the computer screen. After that, I flew to Los Angeles one weekend to sit down and read with Charlize and David, which was really exciting and a great experience.
Q: Did you look at the graphic novel source material, The Coldest City, at all?
A: Yes, it was part of my research. But I also watched this documentary called Lust and Sound, about music in 1980s Berlin and around the time the wall fell down. It’s so good. It’s fascinating and it helped me so much. Just to capture the feel and vibe of the ’80s. It was my childhood, and when you’re a child you don’t notice much of the era you’re in at first. But that documentary helped me because that’s the world that Delphine is attracted to, aside from being a spy, she embraces it. You can imagine Delphine doing her job in the day and clubbing at night.
Q: You share most of your scenes with Charlize. How was working with her?
A: I was thrilled to work with Charlize, because I remember watching Monster and thinking how this gorgeous, intelligent person never let her beauty be the reason why she’s in this industry. She’s proven many times that she’s an incredible actress and I look up to strong women that are so good at what they do. She cares, and on something like Monster, she put everything else aside and only her talent came through. Her ability to dive into a role the way she did, I admire that. So when I got to work with her, I was nervous. I was hoping that my own acting skills were going to be able to work alongside her, even though my experience as an actress is fairly new compared to hers. It pushed me to study more, to be more prepared. She encouraged me and made me feel comfortable.
Q: How was it working with director David Leitch?
A: I loved working with him. He's very intelligent and I think the way he's put the movie together is phenomenal.
Q: What was it like shooting in Budapest?
A: As soon as I landed in Budapest, I felt as though I had gone into a time machine and came out in the 1980s. So, it was perfect context and surrounding to really feel like we were in the movie we were shooting. When I had a few days off, I was a little isolated because I didn’t know that many people and Charlize was always on set, but that was good because it helped put me in that frame of mind, which I think my character would have been feeling as well. It was good for me.
Q: Did you have to train and prepare for any fight scenes?
A: Yes because James (McAvoy) and I did everything in the fight scene ourselves. We came the day before and looked at the space, and then learned everything the next morning before shooting it that day. David and his stunt team were wildly prepared. They’re so good at what they do, and making sure everything is safe. And I wasn’t wearing many clothes, so there wasn’t much room for padding, except on the furniture. James is so good at doing the fight scenes, and such a good actor. I’d love to work with him again. Atomic Blonde is in cinemas now.
Charlize Theron and Sofia Boutella play two killers in killer heels in Atomic Blonde, set in Cold War Berlin as the Wall is about to fall.