THE NATIONAL – Olga Kurylenko didn’t have to audition for Russell Crowe’s directional debut, The Water Diviner.
The former Bond girl clearly must have caught the Gladiator star’s eye on screen – they had never met before, but Crowe sent her the script and asked which character she wanted to play.
“I think it was a joke, because there’s not many female characters in the film,” says the actress, who was in the UAE earlier this month for the film’s premiere at Dubai International Film Festival.
And that was how the former catwalk model came to play Ayshe, Crowe’s love interest in an epic story of a grief-stricken father’s journey to bury the sons he lost in Gallipoli, while fighting for the Allies against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.
However, there were still a few more obstacles to clear.
“He said, ‘Do you speak Turkish?’, and I was like ‘I can learn’,” adds Kurylenko with another laugh. “It was a lot of responsibility for me, and a big challenge. I was thinking mainly about Turkish people, because I knew for everyone else it would sound great.”
Best known for her roles in action movies such as Oblivion and Hitman, as well as the 007 adventure Quantum of Solace, Kurylenko sank her teeth into the more dramatic role of a widow working at an Istanbul hotel that acts as the base for Crowe’s character, Joshua Connor. Naturally, her young, fatherless son is drawn to the grieving father.
TELEGRAPH – Olga Kurylenko, the actress and former Bond girl, recalls the beauty of the Atacama Desert and reveals why she would never go travelling alone.
How often do you travel?
All the time. I’m constantly packing and unpacking my suitcase. I’ve been travelling a lot for work between London, where I’m based, and Paris, Prague and other places in Europe. The last big trip I did was to Australia to shoot a film with Russell Crowe called The Water Diviner and I really enjoyed it there. I’ve been before, but this time I was there for an extended period shooting in Sydney. It’s a beautiful city with great restaurants, amazing theatres and amazing animals and birds at the Sydney Zoo. I enjoyed walking everywhere, exploring the parks and was really impressed with the city.
What do you need for a perfect holiday?
To have people around me, loved ones – be they family or friends. If you’re in good company, even if you have nothing much to explore, you can still have a great time talking to each other and discovering more about yourself. I also need a bit of nature – beautiful lakes, scenery and landscapes – plus good weather and architecture. Good food is also very important.
Most memorable filming location?
The most fascinating place I’ve been for a film was the Atacama Desert in Chile where Quantum of Solace [see the trailer below] was shot. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was such a beautiful location.
DEADLINE – Quantum of Solace Bond girl Olga Kurylenko is set to star in her own action pic for director Marc Forby (Princess Kaiulani). She’ll lead the cast of indie thriller Little Mizz Innocent, about a seemingly innocent UN interpreter caught in a power struggle between the FBI and a criminal dynasty. Filming is set for this summer in Toronto, the U.K., and China. It’s the first major feature for Goldove Entertainment, a film and music shingle founded by former banking pros Hudson and Lynda McKoy, who will produce the film alongside son Gino, who wrote the script. Kurylenko’s recent credits include Oblivion, To The Wonder, Vampire Academy, and Russell Crowe’s upcoming directorial debut The Water Diviner. She’s repped by Tavistock Wood and CAA.
VARIETY – The Weinstein Co. is in talks to acquire U.S. rights to Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, “The Water Diviner,” following a May 15 promotional presentation at the Cannes Film Festival.
Crowe screened 12 minutes of footage at the event at the Majestic Hotel. WME Global is selling the U.S. rights to the film at Cannes; David Garrett’s Mister Smith Entertainment has been selling international territories.
Producers are Andrew Mason and Troy Lum for Hopscotch Features, and Keith Rodger for Crowe’s own Fear of God Films. RatPac Entertainment made one of its first moves into independent film by coming onboard with production funding; RatPac founders James Packer and Brett Ratner are exec producers.
Crowe portrays an Australian farmer who — four years after Turkey’s Battle of Gallipoli during World War I — travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his sons, reported missing in action. Olga Kurylenko plays the Turkish woman who owns the hotel in which he stays.
Crowe began working on the project in 2011 and made three trips to Turkey to scout locations and meet with Kurylenko to persuade her to take the part.
“The Water Diviner” has a Dec. 26 Australia release date, with other regions scheduled near the same window. The film had a 53-day shoot in Australia, Turkey and Laos.
VARIETY – Benicio del Toro, Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko will star in conflict-zone drama “A Perfect Day,” the English-language debut of Fernando Leon de Aranoa, one of Spain’s most reputable and popular auteurs.
France’s Melanie Thierry (“Babylon AD” and Bosnia’s Fedja Stukan (“In the Land of Blood and Honey”) also form part of the choral cast.
The Spanish producer of Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Midnight in Paris” and Isabel Coixet’s “The Secret Life of Words,” which toplined Tim Robbins, Mediapro will team with Reposado Producciones, Leon de Aranoa’s label, to produce “Day.” It marks their fourth feature co-production. Jaume Roures and Leon de Aranoa produce; Javier Mendez and Patricia de Muns exec-produce.
Rolling for 10 weeks in and around Granada, southern Spain, from March 17, “A Perfect Day” is a drama laced with large humor and tension, both of which come with the territory, plus echoes of war movies.
Leon’s sixth – and ironically titled – fiction feature turns on a motley group of aid workers in a conflict zone. They have divergent takes on their profession and the state they’re in. Sophie (Thierry) still wants to help people, Mambru (Del Toro), just wants to go home, Katya (Kurylenko) once wanted Mambru; Damir (Stukan) wants the war to end; B (Robbins) doesn’t know what he wants.
Together, they have to haul a body out of a well. But the simplest task, the film’s synopsis runs, becomes an impossible mission where the real enemy could be irrationality itself.
“The workers cross the frenzied war landscape trying to fix the problem, like guinea pigs in a maze,” the synopsis adds.
“A Perfect Day” adapts the novel, “Dejarse Llover,” by Paula Farias, a writer and doctor who has faced many humanitarian emergencies working for Doctors Without Borders since 1999.
“This film uses humor to distance itself: the wittiest comments, comedy at its wildest and grittiest, at its most desperate, often happens in the very midst of tragedy. Because there is no place on earth where it is more necessary,” said Leon de Aranoa.
He added: “Fast, direct, rough, a race against the clock, this film has no time to waste. Like cars in the mud, like the trucks in ‘The Wages of Fear,’ like the aid workers on the ground. Lively, luminous, impulsive, tough and dreamy, desperate, funny despite it all… that’s how I imagine this film.”