The French actress speaks candidly about working with Terrence Malick on his new film, To The Wonder.
Ukranian-born French actress Olga Kurylenko has come a long way since landing the Bond girl gig in 2008's Quantum Of Solace. So much so, in fact, that she recently caught the eye of legendary director Terrence Malick for a leading role in his follow up to The Tree Of Life, To The Wonder. LWLies sat down with Kurylenko to chat about her working relationship with the world's most enigmatic filmmaker.
LWLies: You auditioned for the film in Paris. Was that where you first met Terrence [Malick]?
Kurylenko: Actually he wasn't present. He watched my audition and asked to meet me, then I flew out to America for a second audition. We met and did a workshop together, which went really well... Obviously.
What were your first impressions upon meeting him?
Just that he was a very nice guy. He was so warm and so open and so calm. Not intimidating in any way. I felt very natural and relaxed around him, he has this unique way of making his actors feel very secure under his control. He doesn't pretend, he's a very real guy. So in return I guess one wants to become that too. I mean, I'm pretty real anyway, I'd have trouble trying to pretend to be any way other than how I am. But yeah, I felt like he was someone who could be my friend.
How would you describe him in two words?
In what way did you get a sense of his shyness?
Well, he hates being in crowds. Even a fairly small film crew, people make him uncomfortable, I think. I don't blame him though. I'm shy too.
As an actress do you get used to being around crowds of people?
No. You never get used to it. Others maybe, but not me. I hate that aspect of my job, if you told me there was an option to say no I would take it. I think you have to have a special disposition to be able to handle large crowds, public speaking, that kind of thing. Not everyone is a born orator.
To The Wonder is a very intimate film, it shows love through a spectrum of emotional extremes. How did you prepare for the more intimate scenes?
I don't know... I was very hard to be in that constant state of imbalance, because there's a lot of emotional distance and also a lot of closeness between the characters. It's not a case of knowing a difficult scene is coming and being able to prepare for it.
Because Terrence works without a script?
Exactly. So it's difficult to prepare yourself as you might typically do. Normally when you have a script your whole schedule is laid out in front of you. With this the was no order or structure. I knew that the scenes represented mental stages of my character, they are a part of who she was, and I had to carry that around with me on set 24/7. That was very hard, being in a constant state of emotional turmoil. My character, I believe, is mentally ill. Her behaviour is bipolar, although that's not mentioned in the film ever. To be manic like she is, to display those extremes, to me represents a form of mental instability.
Ben [Affleck] and your characters share some happy moments as well. What was more challenging to film?
It was all challenging to be honest with you. I mean, to portray genuine love is not easy to do, but neither is behaving in a manic way. I discovered a lot about myself, and about acting, working on this film.
Ben recently joked that it was just his luck that he happened to be in the one bad Terrence Malick film...
He thinks it's bad?!
Well, our interpretation of what he said is that the end product was very different to what he was expecting. What is your take on that? Did you have any sense of what the final edit was going to look like?
Oh, you don't know what it's going to look like. Terry builds the story in the cutting room. While he films he's just getting a palette of colours, and when he edits he takes those colours and mixes them in a variety of ways until he finds the right blend. It was a complete surprise for me to see what he went for. I know there were other endings, which he told me about, that didn't make the final version. There were so many different options though, I mean, we filmed a lot of material. I'm sure he could probably make another three or four different movies from what we shot.
What do you love about movies?
Lots of things. They're a good way to waste time, for one. But they can make you feel so many different things. You can go and see a movie to laugh or cry or feel better about ourselves, even reflect on our lives. They can educating, too. The movies that I connect with tend to be the ones that are real. Dramas mostly, stuff I can relate to. I don't get on with cartoons. I can't relate to an animated character. It's hard to get me to watch an animated movie.