Olga Kurylenko thinks her latest movie, Roland Joffé’s There Be Dragons, is important for everyone and not just another piece of escapism – and Olga knows what escapism is all about having been Daniel Craig’s love-interest in James Bond’s last outing – A Quantum of Solace.
Why is it important? “Because”, she says, “it just treats the most crucial questions. This movie speaks about love. And it concerns all of us. It speaks about searching for the purpose in life. That’s what we all look for, I hope. It looks for happiness, which is what we’re all looking for in life. It’s about making choices, and we’re constantly, everyday, brought to make choices. It’s about actually struggling with negative feelings; it’s about struggling with hatred and anger. And it is about trying to be a better person.”
Kurylenko, Ukrainian-born actress and model, grew up in poverty sharing a Soviet flat with her aunt, uncle, grandparents and cousin. In her own life she has been no stranger to struggle. Her mother and father were divorced soon after her birth and her mother struggled to survive as an art teacher. Young Olga was brought up by her mother and her grandmother, Raisa. During her youth, Olga had a humbling experience of living in poverty and recounts how she had no choice but to wear rags and had to darn the holes on her sweater. During the years in Ukraine, she studied art, languages, did 7 years of musical school studying piano and went to a ballet studio.
When she was 13, Olga and her mother made a trip to Moscow. There, she was spotted by an agent who approached her at a subway station and offered her a job as a model. Initially, Olga’s mother was suspicious but, eventually, Olga started training as a model. By age 16, she moved to Paris, learned French in six months, and was signed by the Madison agency. Then, in 2005, she made her debut in films and in 2008 hit the big-time with A Quantum of Solace. Next came There Be Dragons which has its world premier in Madrid on 25 march and then goes on release across the US on 6 May.
Since making this movie over six months in 2009 she has spoken about its impact on her. “One of the main characters”, she says, “is extremely angry and full of hate. He is totally lost. And I think that’s something that’s extremely common in our world today, and always was. Let’s agree that we’ve been struggling with it for… centuries. It’s something that’s still worth talking about, because it’s still our problem! And that’s what sanctity is, I guess. As Roland said, there’s no sanctity without struggle and fight and suffering. It’s not just a person who sits in his chair and does nothing and just has great ideas.”
She sees Josemaría Escrivá, who is one of the central characters in this semi-historical portrayal of personal conflict between its protagonists during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, as representing this kind of human being. It is about a man “who gets up and goes and does something. In spite of the hatred that directed at him, he keeps believing in a better world; he keeps doing good. That’s something easy to say but not very easy to do at all.” But there are people like that, and Josemaria was one of those people. When people were spitting on him and throwing stones at him, he was still turning back with a smile and kept loving those who were doing these things to him. And there are lines in the movie, where he says ‘Well, we still should love them.’ That’s something! It’s very idealistic, but it is possible, because there are people like that.
I never met Josemaría, but I’ve actually met people like that in the present life, nowadays. There are people like that. And those are the people who chose not the easy way but rather the difficult way. That’s what makes life more interesting, rather than those who choose the easy way, that’s what gives sense to life.