The mercurial methods of Terrence Malick tend to affect his actors in various ways. Christopher Plummer vowed to never work with him again, Ben Affleck said the experience “was a wash” in terms of learning or gaining anything, while Christian Bale seems to love the whole process, starring in “The New World” and now leading Malick’s next two pictures. The director’s methods are as unique as they are baffling, and Olga Kurylenko, star of his upcoming “To The Wonder” shared some of his unique requests.
For anyone who has followed Malick, they know that there isn’t so much of a script, but a guideline, with actors often receiving pages of instruction and observations personally written by Malick each day. That was no different here. “I receive pages (with her lines on them) every morning, sometimes ten, sometimes more… The words are (excuse my poeticism) rather like a breakfast for the soul,” she said. “Every morning it’s a feast! If I digest the sense of what the pages contain, the nature of Terry’s words will shine through my eyes while we’re filming, and I won’t even need to speak. Every sentence is filled with such deep knowledge of the soul. They force me to think and reflect on my own life, to ask myself questions. Reading Terry’s words makes me realise I’m spending so much precious time on such unnecessary things…Wonderful pages.”
While it sounds like the kind of thing you might want to hang on to and cherish, it seems Malick would prefer if they ceased to exist once the work was done. “They always tried to recuperate the pages, and what they didn’t get back Terry or his assistant instructed us to burn,” she said, adding: “It’s the most horrible act that can be done. Burning those pages.”
In the film, Kurylenko plays Marina, a young single mother from France who struggles to adjust to life in the United States, a situation not helped by her distant new husband, played by Ben Affleck. “I went nuts. There are moments that, as Marina, I went completely crazy, but Terry didn’t put that in the movie,” she explains. “Apparently it was too terrifying. People saw it and they freaked out, so it was cut. He drove me to that state though.”
But would she do it again? Well, despite the script burning and being driven over the edge, she says, “I miss Terry. It’s so amazing to be a part of his work. I think we had a connection, and his writing is so simple and beautiful.”