Breaking out of the Bond girl mould

Breaking out of the Bond girl mould

Whether she is a damsel in distress or a gun-toting secret agent, a Bond girl is, almost by definition, a two-dimensional character, with little to say and even less of a backstory.

Olga Kurylenko, who broke into Hollywood by playing one of these women, has had quite enough of such characters, thank you very much.

Speaking to the press in Los Angeles about her new movie November Man, the 34-year-old Ukraine-born model-turned-actress tells Life! she thinks she has finally shaken off the typecasting that invariably followed her appearance in 2008's Quantum Of Solace, which cast her as a sexy spy opposite Daniel Craig.

"It's been a while now that I don't feel I've been typecast because there's so many different things that I've done,'' says Kurylenko, who has had a string of high-profile credits recently, including last year's science-fiction blockbuster Oblivion with Tom Cruise and director Terrence Malick's 2012 arthouse drama To The Wonder.

"In the beginning, I had to fight and refuse certain parts that could've been typecasting. But I just said no to them - that's all it took, I just had to be strong about not accepting them."

"And I still watch it - I'm trying to be careful in my choices. But it's hard, it doesn't mean I won't make mistakes. When you're making a film you never know how it's going to come out - it can start out being one project and finish a completely different one."

It was this determination to be seen as more than just a pretty face on screen that led her to her latest project, November Man, which is showing in Singapore.

Although it is a spy thriller much like the Bond films - and even has a former 007, Pierce Brosnan, as the lead - Kurylenko plays a more fully fleshed-out, multi-layered character: Alice Fournier, a social worker who helps the victims of human trafficking and who proves instrumental to the geopolitical intrigue in the story.

"That was a big part of why I loved being on this project - this character was so developed. I liked what this woman was saying and the fact that she was also a simple woman - she's not highly trained, she's not an agent, which is very different to what I played in Quantum Of Solace - that woman had all those amazing skills, she was a weapon. This is just a regular girl who works in an office." The actress was thrilled to be back in the movie spy game.

"It's fun, I love the genre - who doesn't love a good thriller? And action is always great because it's fun to move, you're like a kid in the playground, you get to do cool stuff and they teach you all these things," says Kurylenko, who was discovered by a modelling scout in Moscow when she was 13, and then took the Paris fashion scene by storm before appearing in a number of French films.

Sharing a screen with Brosnan, 61, was also part of the appeal with this film.

"Working with Pierce is such an honour. He's a great guy, lovely, charming, just chilled, very low-key and relaxed, yet he does everything with such precision and has this amazing presence on screen."

Although November Man is just a supporting role for Kurylenko, she has top billing in several upcoming projects due to be released next year, among them the lead role in RAD, a biopic of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie by French director Luc Besson.

The London-based actress, who has been married twice - first to French photographer Cedric van Mol (2000 to 2004) and then American businessman Damian Gabrielle (2006 to 2007) - says she would rather throw herself into a challenging role "than do something that doesn't require any work".

Looking ahead, she also wants to experiment with different genres, perhaps even a musical, despite the fact that she is not all that confident about her ability to hold a tune.

"I like to sing in my car. But whether anybody would like to listen to that, that's a different question."

November Man is showing in Singapore.


This article was first published on Aug 30, 2014.
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