I recently caught up with the stunning Olga Kurylenko to talk about Neil Marshall’s “Centurion”. After making her film debut in the French film L’Annulaire, in 2005, she has since found fame as the female lead in the last James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. She recently starred in the film Centurion as an invincible Pict warrior in Roman Britain.
Your role in the film is extremely physical, how did you find that? Are you naturally fit and physical?
Olga Kurylenko: I am and it is in my nature, even if I do not live well. Believe me, I do not look after myself or exercise. I did ballet and some karate as a kid and I think that has given me a classic base and you can move in to anything. Ballet is really important.
Can you describe your character?
Olga Kurylenko: She is a Pict warrior leader, who is mute. So she takes action, like a wild, silent dog – hitting out, using a knife or spear. I am dressed in leather and fur for most of the film. The filming was so physical, every day. By comparison, being in a Bond film was easy.
Did you sustain any injuries?
Olga Kurylenko: Cuts and bruises, mostly. I have a some scars on my arm and leg, but that is like a trophy for the hard work I have put in being in action on a film. I don’t think actors should ever complain about the cold, the tiredness, the aches and pains, the injuries. We are living a very good life.
What would do you think life would have been like, 2,000 years ago?
Olga Kurylenko: I am sure I would have hated it. I am 31 and doubt whether I would have lived past 30. They were such tough people and we are so soft-skinned these days. If I could go back in time, it would be to have a meeting with Oscar Wilde in the 1880′s. He was homosexual, but had wit and intelligence. Those are the two sexiest elements, to me, in a man.
How did your career start?
Olga Kurylenko: I was stopped in subway in Moscow by a model scout, when I was with my mum. I was 14. The scout wanted me to work for a modelling agency. I thought: ‘This can not be happening to me. I see movies about people like that and read books, but now it has happened to me. Is this a fairy tale?’ My mum …she was unbelieving. It was a turning point in my life. You have no idea of what my life was like before.
So what was your life like in those days?
Olga Kurylenko: I come from a small town on the seaside, in the Ukraine. We were very poor and my mother had put some money away for a year, so we could go and see the capital of Russia together. I am the only child. I do not think we would have survived had there been one more person. There was already enough difficulty and we could not have eaten if there was none more mouth. My mum was a teacher and she had always worked. At that time she was teacher, but the pay was terrible.
What was your working life like, as a young model?
Olga Kurylenko: I started travelling between my town and Moscow. I took a 26 hour train journey. I would leave around 7 a.m. on one day and get to Moscow at 12.30 p.m the next day. I would sleep on the train. I would spend the day, night and half another day to get to Moscow, work for two or three days and then return by the same journey. I did that for a year.
Has that determination helped you to become an actress?
Olga Kurylenko: I think you have to be single minded to succeed and survive in acting. Many people told me I should do it and, in 2004, I took a small part in a French movie. You need to live by yourself, take the knocks to confidence, be prepared for rejection and deal with some strange people.