Hollywood isn’t always kind to models-turned-actors or Bond Girls, but Olga Kurylenko has defied the odds to become one of the busiest and most sought-after actors since she starred opposite Daniel Craig in “Quantum of Solace.” Currently starring opposite Aaron Eckhart in “Erased," this month also sees the release of two very different films for the Ukaranian-born beauty. First up is Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder,” in which Kurylenko plays Marina, the unhappy wife to Ben Affleck’s character. Next week, Kurylenko stars opposite Tom Cruise in the sci-fi epic “Oblivion.” The rising star gave us some advice that helped lead her to “the biggest year of my life.”
Be willing to try anything.
After going on tape for “To the Wonder,” Kurylenko was summoned to Texas to audition for Malick in person. She actually started her audition before meeting Malick; he came into the room during the midst of her performing and began to direct her. “It’s funny to be directed by someone you haven’t met,” she notes. But she went with it—and won the part. The experience of shooting the film was also very unique. “There was no script, there was no schedule, everything is very spontaneous and last minute,” she reveals. “We didn’t’ know which scenes we’d be filming which day. You usually have a precise schedule and can rehearse your roles—but there was no schedule and Malick doesn’t like rehearsing.” She admits the role could be tough on her. “It was hard to stay in this constant pain that Marina is in," she explains. "She’s in a relationship that’s not fulfilling her. You have to be open, you can’t prepare the way you do on a normal movie because you don’t know what’s coming next. You can’t look at the schedule and say: ‘Oh, on April 6, I have a tough scene I need to prepare for.’ I had to stay raw, like an open wound, all the time.” At the same time, she loved the experience. “It was refreshing, it keeps you alive," she says. "I was in pain, yet I didn’t mind because it was such an amazing experience.”
Read a book—or three.
Kurylenko began shooting first, a week before any other actors arrived, and was the last to finish. Still, she wasn’t always sure what the exact story would be. “I asked Terry and the only thing he said really was, ‘It’s Marina’s Story, it’s a movie about this woman.’ That’s all I knew.” At the same time, he told her everything she needed to know about her character—“he gave me her backstory, her life, her baggage.” And at his recommendation, she read three Russian novels in preparation: “The Idiot,” “Brothers Karamazov,” and “Anna Karenina.” Says the actor, “I sort of combined the three female characters from those books to find Marina.”
Get a good scene partner. Tom Cruise will do.
Kurylenko was filming the series “Magic City” in Miami when she had the chance to meet with “Oblivion” director Joseph Kosinski. “I really wanted that part," she says. "I thought it was such a nice romantic touching part, very different from what I’ve done before.” She then flew to L.A. for 24 hours to audition opposite Cruise, who she says truly helped her land the role. She recalls, “Right away, I could see Tom was an amazing actor. He didn’t need to act with me—it was my audition, not his. And he was totally in character, giving me everything. It makes it so much better to act against someone so fully committed. He wasn’t just giving me lines. You could have filmed that and used it in the movie.”
Say yes to the great filmmakers.
Last year, Kurylenko played a small role in the dark comedy “Seven Psychopaths” for director Martin McDonough. “He said, ‘It’s a small part, it’s a boy’s movie, but if you don’t mind, I would love to have you,’ " she remembers. A fan of his previous film, “In Bruges,” Kurylenko didn’t hesitate. “I was like, ‘Sure! Are you kidding me! I’ll do anything for you,’ " she says. "And it ended up being so much fun and such a fantastic film.”
Go home again.
Up next, Kurylenko is going back to Europe to make some movies. First up is a French thriller. “I think I’m going to do a French movie, which I haven’t done in a while,” she notes. “And that’s where I started. So I’m going to go back to my roots.”