From Bond girl in “Quantum of Solace” to comedic presence in “Seven Psychopaths,” actress Olga Kurylenko has run quite a range of diversely, solid supporting roles thus far, but the two films she has landing in theatres this month — Terrence Malick‘s “To The Wonder” and sci-fi thriller “Oblivion” with Tom Cruise — declare a shift towards strong central roles in her future. We recently got a chance to talk to Kurylenko about “Oblivion” and her career (more from that coming soon), but first, we chatted about her experience as Malick’s leading lady in “To The Wonder” as it hits screens this weekend.
As an actor, a locked role in a Malick film seems almost an impossible notion, and when asked if she always knew her part as Ben Affleck‘s romantic partner Marina was secure, Kurylenko confirmed as much. “I never knew how my role was going to end up; I simply gave myself over to the project. You don’t think, ‘I’m going to be cut out,’ but you know that it’s possible. With Ben sometimes though, we would end a scene and he’d comment, ‘You know, this is never ending up in the movie.’ And I would laugh — not because the scenes weren’t fantastic, but because of the sheer amount of it. Malick shoots so much film.”
In the case of “To The Wonder,” Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet, Michael Sheen, and Jessica Chastain were among the cast cut from that mountain of footage, and while Kurylenko never explicitly discussed that fact with any of them, she does remember a few interactions with another actress, Rachel Weisz. “I met Rachel, and we ended up having some great scenes together. She played Ben’s sister in the film, and there was quite an interesting story between us, some very cool things, but now it feels somewhat wrong to lament and build up what was cut.” The actress also shared with THR that she had shot a scene with Rachel McAdams that also didn’t make the movie.
Kurylenko has been open about the fact that the actors had no script going in, replaced with intense research beforehand — “Anna Karenina,” “The Brothers Karamazov,” and “The Idiot” for her — and on-set vocal direction by Malick while shooting. Kurylenko says the whole process was sometimes very disorienting, “tough and emotionally draining” for her, but she also felt an extreme ease with Terry with other aspects of her character.
“He says these things that are very — I don’t want to seem immodest, but I actually felt like I understood Terry, like we spoke the same language for the film. He didn’t need to speak; it was like on a telepathic level. I don’t know why or how.”
She pointed to the director’s description of Marina as being “the soul of a woman longing for love who’s without roots in her life. She doesn’t have a country anymore because she comes from the Ukraine and immigrates to France, and then ends up in Oklahoma. She doesn’t even know she’s lost, which creates the instability in her mind, and the rift with Ben’s character.”
She added, “I understood it, and it’s pretty clear why: It happened to me too [Kurylenko was discovered as a model in Ukraine before moving to France at 16]. I travelled, I left my country, so I know what it is to be in a place and feel like a stranger and excluded — not that I always was, but when you don’t know people, that’s how it feels. Because of that background, I feel like I was able to really portray it in the way that Terry wanted, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tough sometimes.”
For more on Kurylenko’s experience shooting the film, take a look at our TIFF interview with her last year. “To The Wonder” is out in select theatres and on Video-On-Demand now, and “Oblivion” opens next Friday, April 19th.