Oblivion's Leading Lady Olga Kurylenko
By: Lynn Barker
We are on the Universal Studios lot in Hollywood to talk to the stars of the new sci-fi action film Oblivion about a future earth that has been ruined by our war with invading aliens. Superstar Tom Cruise plays Jack, a techy, “fix-it” and security guy who repairs machines left behind by the aliens. It seems almost all of Earth’s remaining population has moved to live on Titan, a moon orbiting Saturn, and Jack is supposed to also leave in two weeks.
Bringing the story down-to-earth is pretty Olga Kurylenko who plays Julia, a mystery astronaut crashing on Earth and both rocking “Tom’s” world and changing it forever.
So, what’s it like to do stunts with Tom Cruise and be tossed around in a “bubbleship” that is like a rough trip in an amusement park ride? Picture dark-haired Olga wearing a gorgeous dark pink sheath dress and black flats for our interview.
Olga as astronaut Julia
Kidzworld: You’ve worked with two of the biggest male movie stars in the world; Daniel Craig as James Bond and now Tom Cruise. Can you compare and contrast working with each of them?
- Olga: (laughs). Well, a couple of things they have in common is that they’re both action heroes. They are involved a lot in action films and they both do their stunts by themselves. They train a lot and physically work a lot. Both are very hard-working.
- Tom is fascinating. I don’t know what that man doesn’t know how to do. He flies a plane, a helicopter, everything. It’s very inspiring to work with people like that but don’t try to outshine them in the action scenes. It’s incredible. I think there was a stunt guy trying to compete in running with Tom Cruise and Tom was running faster than him! Stunt guys are tough; the toughest, strongest and fastest and Tom is still stronger and faster. He’s one of a kind. I’d never seen that before.
Olga with Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace
Kidzworld: Creatively, what was it like working with Tom as an actor?
- Olga: Very interesting creatively. It was an unexpected thing to see how much he gives. He’s a big star and wonderful actor. We know that but only his partners; other actors know how much he gives. He’s such a generous work partner and that’s not always the case. I’ve never seen him sit in his trailer. He’d always be there, even if the camera was on me and he was far away from my eyeline, he would prefer to be there.
- He would never leave the set, even if I told him “Seriously, I don’t need you”. He would still be there because he is involved 100 percent. That’s a wonderful thing. He’s very supportive of course. He’s done all these stunt scenes before so when I came on set and there was this gimbal (for the inside of the bubbleship) that was spinning, he talked me through it. He knows how it works. It’s very reassuring to have a partner like that. He’s not just an actor who has no idea. He actually technically knows how things work and you feel safe with him.
Julia and Jack at Empire State Building ruins
Kidzworld: I think the bubbleship is the coolest-looking thing ever.
- Olga: I agree with you.
Olga and Tom on set in the bubbleship cockpit
Kidzworld: What was being in that thing, getting tossed all over the place like? Did you get sick?
- Olga: I threw up in the beginning of the film when I came out of the (sleep) pod, so that was done (laughs). But, no, I don’t get sick from motion. I can be on a boat and everything but I don’t like it psychologically being thrown around. I don’t enjoy roller coasters and that was like being in a washing machine and a roller coaster at the same time because it was spinning the whole time. When I have a choice, I don’t like going into washing machines but Tom told me “You have no choice”. In a way it’s all these great memories. In the end it was funny how I slowly adjusted to that machine but the beginning was tough.
Olga with Tom in the bubbleship in the film
Kidzworld: Were you laughing or…?
- Olga: Oh everybody was cracking up. We were laughing and screaming at the same time. It’s amazing. It creates such an atmosphere on set. Those scenes are very exciting and it’s also intense because you’re working with machinery and buttons that have to be pushed and guys controlling it. It’s fascinating how they built that thing. It could rotate all kinds of ways. Amazing.
Kidzworld: Was your director Joe Kosinski and also Tom collaborative in letting you expand and make suggestions for your character?
- Olga: It’s always teamwork, if the team is effective. I spoke with him, with Tom. We would have meetings, the three of us and discuss our characters’ backgrounds and the story. We rehearsed. I watched video of astronaut training and some old romantic movies as a preparation and inspiration. It’s a working process. You grow together.
Tom and Olga chat on set
Kidzworld: We know very little about your character in the beginning and then more as the film goes on. Is it hard to play a character like that?
- Olga: That’s what attracted me to the role and what I found very interesting, the fact that there was this mystery to Julia and that I couldn’t reveal everything right away from the very first appearance of her on screen. The fact that she had to uncover a story during the whole film (was interesting). She’s a completely different thing at the end than we see her as in the beginning. All that mystery was interesting to work on.
Kidzworld: You always look gorgeous on the red carpet at premieres. Is it easy to get caught up in all that Hollywood attention?
- Olga: Hollywood represents this big dream and fairy tale in people’s minds and, to me, it’s just hard work. Of course, we play fairy tale on the red carpet and that’s all Cinderella but when the clock strikes midnight, I turn into a gray mouse, go home and take my dress off and it’s over (she laughs). That’s Hollywood.
Kidzworld: The movie had an interesting musical score. A quiet scene with Tom has the classic rock ballad “A Whiter Shade of Pale” in the background. Did you know that would be the song or was it added later?
- Olga: Oh, the love scene. We actually had a different song so it was replaced. (On set) it was “Unforgettable”. I actually had it sent by Joe out to me and I listened to it. It’s a beautiful song. But, yes, the music is wonderful. They played it at most of the premieres. I think I was in Dublin and that music was playing so loud I almost cried. I thought “I can’t cry on the red carpet”. But, it’s just so heartbreaking. It’s very emotional music.
Olga as Julia and Tom Cruise as Jack
Kidzworld: Did you do any special physical training for this film? Is it the most action you’ve done or was that the Bond movie? Were you hurt doing this?
- Olga: Oh, I wouldn’t tell you about that. I’m tough. I get hurt all the time but it’s okay. Actually (Oblivion) is not the most intense physically. If you compare Julia to (my character) Camille in Quantum of Solace, Julia is a much more romantic figure while Camille was actually competing with Bond, tried to kill him, tried to fight him. She was pretty much the equivalent of James Bond in a female character which was also very different and she didn’t have any romantic story with Bond which was different from Bond girls but also very different from Julia.
- For my physically, the most intense character and the most I’ve ever been involved in action is Bond but this is probably the second. But, I’m kind of there as a secondary character because I don’t manipulate the action. I’m kind of sitting either next to Tom or behind Tom. I was behind him on the motorcycle or next to him on the bubbleship. At one point I do pick up a machine gun and shoot and the Bond (experience) served me there because I did come prepared. They asked me how I knew how to do it and I said “I went to the Bond school”.