It’s always interesting to watch how an actor or actress navigates their career in Hollywood. Some just roll with the punches, taking most of the roles they’re offered. But then there are ones like Olga Kurylenko who take the time to be as selective as possible, making sure the role they’re about to step into is the right one. In our discussion with the French actress for her new film, The November Man, we get into that, as well as love of thrillers, and thoughts on the sequel.
Nerdist: This movie has a very ‘70s feel. Are you a fan of that genre, and if so, do you have any favorites?
Olga Kurylenko: I love a good thriller. I love thrillers. I think they’re the most entertaining genres to watch. Well, comedies are pretty good, too. Everyone loves to laugh. So yeah, totally a fan.
N: Do you have any favorites?
OK: The Usual Suspects… there are so many.
N: Your career is interesting because you’re mixing in indie flicks with these high level blockbusters. You had Quantum Solace, you had Oblivion. But then you’ve also got To the Wonder and Seven Psychopaths. Are you doing this on purpose or are you just getting all the cool scripts?
OK: On purpose. I’m doing it on purpose and I’m very selective. I am getting them obviously, because otherwise I wouldn’t get the parts. So I’m getting them, but I’m not saying yes to everything, because I’m basically making a selection so projects vary. So it’s not like a couple of same roles in a row. I try to juggle.
N: Are you looking for something specific when you get a script? What are the key things that you’re looking for?
OK: A role always has to touch me. Always something has to speak to me, something maybe that I relate to, even if it’s something tiny, or also something different, things that maybe I haven’t played before. Of course the overall story; I have to like the story. I have to be passionate about the story.
N: What drew you to Alice?
OK: She’s so multifaceted. She has so many sides to her. She has a lot at stake. She was a very complex character. And the fact that she was… I’m sure you know often women can be just a little part of the story because it’s…
N: She is the story.
OK: [laughs] Yeah. Alice is such a crucial key. And she takes such a big part in this story. She’s very much present. She is a regular girl. She’s not an agent. That’s also what attracted me. I didn’t have some super skills or super powers. It was just this regular girl and how this regular girl deals with such a scary situation that comes into her life. When the CIA is after her, killers are after her, what is she going to do? She doesn’t know how to use a gun. Her choice of weapon is very weir
N: But she has this very dynamic twist about halfway through the movie…
OK: Well, she’s proactive. At some point she takes the initiative…
N: Right. When you got to that point in the script, were you like, “OK. Now I’m in”? Because that’s the point I was in, too. I was like, “Oh, OK. We’re going to do this.”
O: Yeah, you didn’t expect that, right?
N: Yeah. You didn’t expect that. We’re going this way with the character now. It was like, “OK.” Is that what really drew you to it, that twist where she becomes that extremely proactive person versus being more passive?
O: Of course, of course. First she starts as this scared girl. She goes, “Why is this happening?” She’s freaked out. She doesn’t want to be… everybody leave her alone. She tries to get away. But then, I think at some point she understands she’s so involved in this now. Also, I think she discovers why she’s involved. She doesn’t know why she’s involved in the beginning. With her discovery, we discover why she’s involved. But it is a surprise to my character itself.
All that baggage, all that, that she’s carrying, and the fact that I couldn’t give it away also was interesting to me, because there’s so much to play with.
N: The movie’s just coming out and already a sequel is in the works! Are you up for coming back for more?
O: Those guys were so amazing to work with. Roger and Pierce, just a joy. Just a joy to work with them. I would do any movies with them, even if it’s a different genre or whatever. It’s very important who you are surrounded with, and certain people bring the best out of you. And it takes a certain person also to see what you can give, to see what’s in you. Otherwise, it’s not only about what you can give. You can think you can give something, but if the others don’t see it, you actually won’t give it. It’s funny like that. it’s not only about what you can give. It’s about, can others receive it? And those guys… Roger has such a good eye.
N: They’re experienced.
O: Yeah, exactly. Roger is a great thriller maker. When I watched the movie I was surprised how much he saw every detail in everything that went on. And he left it. He didn’t cut [anything] out, like our expressions or something that we’ve done. Also, of course, shooting close-ups on certain things, which gives it more of a dangerous look to the whole film—the blood, and the punches and things. He often gets straight in that with his camera. You know, a phone that falls down, something that drops. It gives you suspense. It gives you shivers. He’s so good. He knows how to heat people up.
The November Man hits theaters August 27th.