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On the Rise: Olga Kurylenko of “Centurion”

On the Rise: Olga Kurylenko of "Centurion"

The vast majority of Bond girls predating the Daniel Craig era have a bad rep. Sure a crop of 007 flicks have had marquee names fill the hot pants or tight dresses of Bond’s dames, but barely any have actually gone on to much following their 007 outing. Denise Richards was on the radar back the late 90’s with memorable turns in “Starship Troopers” and “Drop Dead Gorgeous” before landing the role of Dr. Christmas Jones in “The World is Not Enough.” Since then, she’s become more known as a reality TV star with a beef against ex-husband Charlie Sheen. Many balked when Halle Berry followed up her Oscar-winning performance in “Monster’s Ball,” with “Die Another Day” – and with good reason. The Bond outing was widely panned but received a gentle lashing compared to Berry’s projects that followed (“Catwoman,” “Perfect Stranger,” “Gothika”).

Eva Green’s acclaimed performance as Vesper Lynd in “Casino Royale” has seemingly reversed the curse. Evidence? Bond’s last outing “Quantum of Solace,” churned out not one but two actresses that are currently in hot demand – Gemma Arterton and Olga Kurylenko. Arterton was this year’s summer ‘it’ girl, with roles in “Clash of the Titans” and “Prince of Persia.” The stunning Ukrainian import Kurylenko is making her late summer entry with a starring role in Neil Marshall’s latest action-fest “Centurion,” opposite Michael Fassbender.

One need only look at the Kurylenko’s slate of upcoming projects to see that this is a lady on the rise. As she told The List back in 2008, Kurylenko is intent on establishing herself as an actress to be reckoned with. Well she’s on the right path. In 2012 audiences will have the chance to catch her in Terrence Malick’s as of now untitled project, opposite a starry lineup that includes Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Racel Weisz. Before that hits theaters, Kurylenko will star in “The Cross,” the latest from Andrew Niccol (“Gattaca”). And this fall she will start shooting the romantic drama “Coronet” alongside Ralph Fiennes.

Born in Berdyansk, a small town in southwest Ukraine, Kurylenkno’s future from the outset did not look so bright. An only child, she confessed to Flick and Bits that her family would have likely not survived had she had a sibling. Lucky for Kurylenko she’s a born stunner. Naturally she took up modeling. “I started traveling between my town and Moscow,” she told Bits when asked about her early years as a model in Russia. “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 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.”

But Kurylenko always had the aspiration to act. When she moved to Paris on an invitation from a modeling agency in 1997, she took it upon herself to learn French in six months, and got an acting agent in the process. Her work payed off, when she landed a breakout lead role in 2005’s “The Ring Finger,” which won her an award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival for her performance.

“It was my first movie,” said Kurylenko to The List, “so it will always be special. Also, it’s the biggest part I’ve had – I’m in every scene, I had to work for eight weeks straight. I learned that the most important thing in acting is concentration. With modeling you provide an image that is fake; with acting you have to provide an image that’s real. It was really intense.”

America soon came calling and cast her as a ‘femme fatale’ (no surprise there) in both “Hitman” and “Max Payne.” Bond was next, and her career has been a steady climb ever since. “I worked a lot at small things and hoped that the big things would come along,” she said to Flick and Bits. “My friends used to say ’get a life, stop working.’ But I can’t.” 

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