Olga Kurylenko is done with being “the girl.” The 35-year-old French actress - best known for playing Bond girl Camille Montes in 2008’s Quantum Of Solace - takes the lead in the new action movie Momentum, out today.
Momentum, directed by Stephen S. Campanelli, will appeal to fans of Alias, Nikita and other badass spy/action/heist movies and TV series. Kurylenko plays the mysterious Alex, an “infiltration expert” with her eye on some diamonds who gets caught in the middle of a dangerous government conspiracy.
Momentum is remarkable for an action film: it stars a woman; there is lots of violence but not a single gratuitous rape scene; there is no love story, though Kurylenko has an at-times sexually-charged rapport with the bad guy (James Purefoy); and thanks to a subplot in which Kurylenko teams up with a murdered colleague’s widow, it even passes the Bechdel test.
Kurylenko says that taking the lead is exactly what appealed to her about the film: “I read the script and I saw how much fun it would be to shoot, because suddenly my character was the lead. I’ve done movies where I was the lead, but it was never an action film. This time, I would be the hero of the whole film!”
“It was so much more tiring” playing the lead, Kurylenko says. “I’ve done it before - in Bond I did a lot of training, and in The November Man. But there were always days when you did nothing or you were resting - you’d have days off. Here, for two and half months, there was not one day free!” This isn’t a complaint - she sounds overjoyed.
In fact, Kurylenko seems born to play an action hero. Despite an intense regimen of training and filming, she managed to carve out some time to climb several mountains near their filming sites in Cape Town, South Africa. She names the 2010 film Salt - starring Angelina Jolie - as one of the films she looked to for inspiration for Momentum. She says that Momentum's intense physical torture scene - which I had to watch between my fingers - was one of her favorite filming experiences, and reveals that she pushed her fellow actors to be more violent with her, “because I really wanted to feel it.” “It was lots of fun!” she adds cheerfully.
Kurylenko says that she loves acting in dramas just as much - and it’s clear from watching To The Wonder and The Water Diviner that she’s just as talented a dramatic actress as an action star. She explains that to her, action films are “an entertaining kind of fun - very basic, childlike fun.” With dramas, “sometimes there are movies where I have to cry for two months, and people wouldn’t necessarily find that fun, but for actors, it is fun. " She adds, “It’s a bit masochistic."
Every so often, the Internet starts dreamcasting women who could play a female version of James Bond - Jane Bond, if you will. I ask Kurylenko if she’d be up for the role, if it ever happened.
“Oh, yeah, sure, definitely!” she says. “I’d love that. That would be so much fun. Definitely!”
To make sure this a real possibility moviegoers will have to vote with their wallets - something that Kurylenko says she does herself.
“I think people enjoy films with females as leads just as much as males,” she says. “And to me, as a woman, it’s even more appealing to see a film with a woman as the lead because I can relate to them. Obviously, I love the big action films and these big franchises, but when I see that a female is the lead, I go to the theater.
“In this case” - an action film - “I want to see a strong woman who kicks ass and is having fun and is smart and witty and very powerful,” she adds. “As a woman, it empowers you. I get tired of seeing women who walk around and smile all the time and do nothing. I think those times are becoming more and more past, because I do see that it’s changing.”
Photos courtesy Starz Digital
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Erika W. Smith is BUST's digital editorial director. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @erikawynn and email her at email@example.com.