TIFF 2011: Toronto International Film Festival

Monday | September 22, 2014

Kurylenko looks for love in Malick film


Former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, who stars in the new Ben Affleck-Rachael McAdams TIFF film, To The Wonder, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Toronto on Mon. Sept. 10/12. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

TORONTO - In June there were pictures everywhere of Tom Cruise on the set of an upcoming movie with a beautiful brunette. He's grinning from ear to ear.

The actress in those photos is Olga Kurylenko, 32, a drop-dead beauty who co-stars with Cruise in the upcoming SciFi adventure, Oblivion.

As for Cruise's smile, Kurylenko seems to have that effect on everyone. Smart and funny (in four languages), Kurylenko first made an impact with North American audiences in Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig's second go at being James Bond.

The new Terrence Malick movie, To The Wonder, is the film that brought the Ukraine-born Kurylenko to Toronto this week. The film is a Special Presentation at TIFF and had its grand unveiling at the Princess of Wales theatre last night.

To The Wonder stars Kurylenko as a woman named Marina. It's a love story that also stars Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, and like all Terrence Malick films, it is often mysterious and open to interpretation.

Kurylenko says of the film, "It asks a lot of questions about what love is. Is love a duty, a pleasure, a necessity or is it utter destruction? For different people it's a different thing."

If we didn't know better, we'd swear Malick had fallen in love with Kurylenko from the look of the film, but she just laughs at that notion. "Oh, my God! It's a beautiful thing to say," she says, cracking up. "The story revolves around Marina and I knew it was his idea to tell the story of this woman, but, um, I don't know what I can say and what I can't."

Malick never does interviews and keeps his life completely private, but we assure Kurylenko that we know the director once had a French wife.

"It's not whether he was in love with me, but maybe it portrays someone he was once in love with," she says, obviously careful to protect the filmmaker's privacy. "We'll never know. You have to ask him."

Kurylenko is a bona fide rags-to-riches story, having grown up in Berdyansk with her mother and grandmother. Her mom was a teacher and her grandmother a doctor, but they had no money.

(Of her mom, Kurylenko says, "I actually was inspired by her for my character in Terrence's movie -- the way her character is in touch with nature, and loves nature. And how she's very intuitive and childlike. My mother is childlike. She'll be happy that the sun came up. When the little green shoots come through in the garden, she'll talk to them. She gets exicted about it. And my mother's name is Marina, the same name as the character.")

At 13, the future actress was spotted by an agent in the subway in Moscow and within four years she was a top model. Kurylenko moved to Paris to model and learn to act, and she made her feature film debut in 2005.

The Bond film in 2008 was a big breakthrough, but it took time for anyone to notice that Kurylenko was as smart as she is beautiful. She talks about doing her homework for To The Wonder, for example: "I had to re-read Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot and Anna Karenina," she says, the same way someone else might say they'd read through the newspaper.

Through Terrence Malick, Kurylenko met filmmaker Martin McDonagh; she has a small role in Seven Psychopaths, also at TIFF. Then there's that Tom Cruise movie coming out next year.

"I learned a lot!" she says. "It's coming out in April, it's a great sci-fi story, it's different. And it's romantic too."

Somehow, that's not surprising.

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