Category: Article

Press: How Sofia Boutella Is Redefining Her Action Stardom

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – After her role in ‘The Mummy,’ the dancer-turned-actor has been seeking out dramatic parts in ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ ‘Climax’ and this weekend’s ‘Hotel Artemis.’

 

 

Sofia Boutella might not yet be a household name or even a recognizable face, given how many times she’s worked under layers of real and/or CGI makeup. And yet, over the last four years, she’s cropped up in a number of tentpole action films as a supporting action star, playing a henchman with blades for legs in Kingsman: The Secret Service, a butt-kicking and rap-loving alien in Star Trek Beyond, the first bandaged female villain in a The Mummy movie (2017) and a French secret agent in Atomic Blonde. Action stardom seems to be hers for the slaying: Last year GQ called her “the best new action star of 2017” while Vanity Fair said she was “this season’s breakout action star.”

 

This year, however, the career of the dancer-turned-actress, 36, is taking a slightly different direction than the straight action stardom that some might have expected then. After she shot to fame in a series of stunt-heavy supporting roles, Boutella is appearing in a suite of dramatic parts this spring and summer: In Fahrenheit 451, released in mid-May on HBO, she plays Clarisse, a double agent who hosts an illicit book club; Hotel Artemis, out June 8, sees her taking on the role of an assassin who grows increasingly disillusioned with her trade; and in Climax, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, she plays the choreographer and de facto main character of the film’s central dance troupe.

 

As she breaks into roles that don’t require any roundhouse kicks, Boutella is challenging an industry that historically hasn’t offered a wide diversity of roles to female actors of color who start off in supporting big-budget parts. This year’s offerings, smaller movies than the tentpole fare she began in, are a start. “I used to love being part of dance companies that were obscure and different and outside the box and then I danced with Madonna, you know what I mean?” she says, sitting in her hotel room during a press tour for Hotel Artemis, one gray day in L.A. in May. “Having variations in my choices is very important, and it’s all character-driven, relationship-driven within the story and story-driven.”

 

It’s only Boutella’s latest career transition. Born in Bab El Oued, Algeria, to an architect mother and composer/musician father, she became a professional dancer after she moved to Paris at age 10, when her family left their country amid the Algerian Civil War. Though she debuted as an actor in 2002, after she booked a role as the love interest in Dance Challenge (Le défi), she decided to pursue a dance career first. “Having danced for a much longer time, I thought it would be only fair to give it its proper time,” she says. That decision led to mainstream success: Boutella toured with Madonna for 10 years, for instance, and starred in the music videos for Michael Jackson, Rihanna and Ne-Yo.

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Press: Gaspar Noé’s Climax Trailer: The Cannes Film That’s a Demonic Step Up Movie

 

W MAGAZINE – That the first trailer for Gaspar Noé’s Cannes Film Festival hit Climax is set to the chugging French Disco beats of Cerrone’s spooky classic “Supernature” is sort of a no brainer. The dance floor classic’s cryptically spooky lyrics like, “there’s no place that you can run, the monsters made, we must pray” creep you out even as the chunky baseline commands you to dance. Climax, after all, is at once both a dance movie, a drug movie, and a good old horror film, and it’s absolutely rattling the Cannes Film Festival.

 

The Argentinian director took his inspiration from an urban legend about a New York City dance troupe whose afterparty punch bowl had been spiked with LSD and they all devolved into a troupe-wide freakout. In Climax, Noé transports the setting from New York City to a facility on the edge of a forest; the afterparty is replaced with a planned three day rehearsal; and the punch bowl, chicly, has been upgraded to sangria. The ensuing troupe-wide freakout, however, remains.

 

The film stars Sofia Boutella, the former Rihanna and Madonna backup dancer whose planned mainstream star turn alongside Tom Cruise in last year’s The Mummy was something of a bust, but is quickly making a name for herself as a star of stylish indie fare (she also appeared alongside Charlize Theron in last year’s arthouse-informed spy thriller Atomic Blonde). She plays the group’s leader, but according to the first reviews plot and character aren’t of as much importance as the interplay between actual dance numbers and psychotic freak outs.

 

In the trailer alone, we already see freak outs, bloody hands, a knife fight, a first fight, a fire fight, someone climbing through snow a lot, and other upsetting sites. On the other hand, we also see DJ Daddy, who, at least, seems like he’s having a good time with his wig.

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Press/Gallery: Sofia Boutella Gives Us a Lesson on Chic Hairstyles to Wear on Repeat

 

VOGUE ARABIA – French-Algerian actor Sofia Boutella teams up with fellow French-Algerian hairstylist Nabil Harlow, Balmain Hair Couture’s creative director, to offer us a head-turning lesson on chic hairstyles to wear on repeat this season.

 

THINK STRAIGHT

 

 

Crops are back. For a chic take on the trend, create poker-straight hair using a flat iron. Lightly work argan oil into the locks to smooth frizz and add shine.

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Press: This Rising Actress Proves Why a Strong Body Is the Best Front Row Accessory

 

VOGUE – For Sofia Boutella, a knockout body is the ultimate front row accessory. The actress turned heads today at the Roberto Cavalli show in Milan, her rumpled peroxide bob (replete with abbreviated bangs) and bold brows acting as simple preludes to the main event: a set of enviably toned arms born of a well-honed workout routine—or, more likely, a series of star turns in critically acclaimed action films that range from indies to bonafide blockbusters.

 

A dancer-turned-model-turned-actress, Boutella’s chosen roles are all about women’s empowerment. Last year brought The Mummy, in which Boutella—who has called her 5,000 year old anti-heroine “a feminist”—gives Tom Cruise a run for his money with a series of cardio stunts. The martial arts training she underwent for 2015’s Kingsman: Secret Service were good training for her buzzed-about role as a steely, seductive, punch-throwing French spy opposite Charlize Theron in 2017’s Atomic Blonde (not to mention that in the graphic book from which the thriller was adapted, that character was male, natch).

 

Simmering at Cavalli with a rimming of kohl liner, tinted pink lips and a body-hugging, strategically sheer black dress, Boutella is the best kind of reminder that there’s nothing sexier than female strength.

Press: Sofia Boutella Talks Dressing for the Red Carpet and Working with Tom Cruise

 

VOGUE – Sofia Boutella may be the red carpet’s most exciting new face. Set to storm theaters this weekend in the blockbuster reboot of The Mummy franchise, Boutella has made waves during her first global press tour in designer looks that showcase her dancer’s physique and willingness to take a fashion risks. Whether arriving at the Madrid premiere in silver Miu Miu last month, stunning fans in a crimson Valentino in Mexico City on Monday, or taking to the red carpet in Taiwan wearing custom Prada, Boutella has pulled off a range of arresting looks in a short period of time.

Making a stop in New York last night at Saks Fifth Avenue’s party in honor of its window display featuring the movie’s costumes, Boutella continued her winning streak in a sequined Rodarte cocktail dress. Joined by co-star and recent Emmy-winner Courtney B. Vance and director Alex Kurtzman, she offered a preview of the dramatic looks she wore onscreen and shared her thoughts on getting glamorous with the whole world watching. Here, her take on why she’s a tomboy at heart and what it was like to work with her leading man, Tom Cruise.

 

On the creation of The Mummy’s costumes

 

“I love the process of how the costumes were made. I remember putting on the drapey mummy costume and being so impressed. It is basically just these squares of silk with different patterns and prints on them. There was a stylist on set with us who was just wrapping them around me, creating shapes as she went and trying things out. [Afterwards,] we decided which one we were going to use based on what she had done. It was interesting just to watch, to get into the costumes, and do the multiple makeup tests.”

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Press: What Are Those Letters On ‘The Mummy’?

 

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER – An undead monster is coming back to life this week.

 

The Mummy, set to bow Friday, has Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) finding what he believes is an ancient tomb, but later learns is actually a prison, and awakening an ancient princess, Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), in the process. As the Mummy, Boutella is covered in an scroll’s worth of ancient runic letters from head to toe, a painstaking process that required hours to complete each time, according to makeup artist Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou.

 

“Her look took about three and a half hours,” Yianni-Georgiou, whose film credits include Guardians of the Galaxy and Notting Hill, tells The Hollywood Reporter. And that was an improvement. “When we first developed it, it was five and a half hours of makeup and hair with five people.”

 

The writing on Ahmanet’s body comes from the ancient Egyptian funerary text Book of the Dead and “the incantation asking the dead to come and help her,” explains the makeup artist of the lines of symbols running from Ahmanet’s face down to her legs and feet. Yianni-Georgiou used the MAC Penultimate Eye Liner as a stylus to create the prominent black writing, marks and lines.

 

For inspiration, the makeup artist studied mummies in museums and followed the backstories included in the script. “I had to take into consideration the stories that [director] Alex Kurtzman and the other guys had written to develop her and bring her to life.” (Or undeath, as the case may be.)

 

Boutella’s character doesn’t always look so terrifying in the film, however.

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Press: Sofia Boutella says her ‘Mummy’ is ‘the definition of a feminist’

 

USA TODAY – Sofia Boutella had a nightmare day shooting scenes for The Mummy in which her Princess Ahmanet is dealt tough justice, ancient Egypt-style, for killing her pharaoh dad and baby brother. She’s entombed alive in a sarcophagus.

 

Boutella’s eyes popped wide through holes in the head-to-toe mummification bandages as she was placed into the stone coffin.

 

“There was a lot of fear, I didn’t need much acting to look frightened,” recalls Boutella, whose first language is French, speaking by phone. “It was weird, I felt really dispowered. I don’t know if that word exists, did I just make that up?”

 

“Dispower” is not a concept the 35-year-old Algerian-born actress dwells on as the title star of The Mummy (in theaters Thursday night). Boutella’s Ahmanet is the force putting fear into London and Tom Cruise’s soldier of fortune Nick Morton when he accidentally awakens her after 5,000 years.

 

Ahmanet’s impressive arrival thrusts Boutella’s Mummy into a mighty woman weekend at the box office along with Gal Gadot’s blockbuster Wonder Woman, which dominated with $100 million-plus last weekend. Both characters follow wildly different screen paths, but are owned entirely by powerful female performances.

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Press: Sofia Boutella calls her ‘Mummy’ character ‘the ultimate feminist’

LA TIMES – Actress Sofia Boutella embodies the titular character in the latest version of “The Mummy,” a reinterpretation of the 1932 Boris Karloff film and a reboot of Universal’s monster franchise. It shouldn’t be notable that Boutella’s furious ancient Egyptian villain is female, but it is.

 

“Why aren’t monsters being played by women?” Boutella muses, lying on a couch during an interview here. “If you piss off a woman she’s far more brutal than a man. How come they didn’t think about that before?”

 

Boutella, 35, has selected one of Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” shirts to wear while doing press for the movie, which opens Friday. She doesn’t mean it as a political statement, but more as a general comment on why it’s important to have equal representation on film. She’s just pleased to be part of one that doesn’t downgrade its female characters.

 

“Ahmanet is the ultimate feminist, I think,” Boutella says of her character, an Egyptian royal who is denied her shot at becoming pharaoh because she’s not a man, thus igniting her wrath. “What happened to her is something that’s always existed and, weirdly, still does, being prevented from ever becoming pharaoh because her father has a child and the child is a boy. She’s not OK with that. She doesn’t victimize herself. And the movie also does not victimize her.”

 

Boutella originally turned down the role in director Alex Kurtzman’s film; she didn’t want to play an angry monster, but a woman with real complexity and a back story. “But as much as I said no to begin with I’m so grateful I said yes,” Boutella says. “I feel lucky to be part of this film.”

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Press: Sofia Boutella Is About To Be A Movie Star, So Why Is A Magazine Asking About Her Sex Life?

I chose to put the video from Vanity Fair with this article rather than the original Vanity Fair post because I think its really important that people don’t think I’m promoting Vanity Fair unprofessional and sexist behavior. The rest of the video shows how fun and upbeat Sofia is so its worth watching but the ending is SO wrong. Bravo on how Sofia handled it though – class act all the way!

 

REFINERY29 – Sofia Boutella is a name and face that you are about to see everywhere. The 35-year-old actress is set to star in two summer blockbusters, each showing off her ability to kick ass, and commit to unconventional characters. First, she is starring as the title character in the 2017 reboot of The Mummy, alongside Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, and later she is co-starring in Charlize Theron’s ultimate shoot ’em up action movie, Atomic Blonde. With her new flashy roles comes a heap of publicity. And as a former professional dancer for Madonna, the Algerian performer is used to being in the spotlight — but not to this degree.

 

Considering her quick rise from supporting roles in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond to headlining hits, Boutella already seems fairly adjusted to interviews, including the uncomfortable ones. In particular, there is a new video from Vanity Fair that has readers confused and upset on behalf of the actress. The video accompanies a short write-up on Boutella from the magazine, labeling her the an actress on the rise. The digital video is meant to showcase her eclectic personality, but instead, it reveals a gross trend in celebrity profiles.

 

In the video, Boutella dances around, says “fuck,” and talks about her career. And then, at the last minute, a man’s voice from off-screen asks her “When was the last time you had sex?” Her face drops and she stares at the camera then down at her feet. Instead of answering the (completely inappropriate) prompt, she asks what time it is, says “that’s it,” and then walks off. It’s weird to watch and even weirder that they included it in the final cut. What would a response to this question have proved? Would it have elevated the conversation? Given us new insight on her as an artist and performer? Nope. All it did was make her, and everyone watching, feel really uncomfortable.

 

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Press: Actress Sofia Boutella opens up about taking a chance on tricky films

 

THE NATIONAL – Even at the highest ­level, acting is still about playing dress-up. “When I was little, I used to put costumes on,” explains Sofia Boutella, relaxing in her hotel suite holding a cup of honey and lemon. “I wore my mum’s stuff. I would wear big dresses and try to fit in her heels, and put a hat on that didn’t fit me. Stuff like that. It’s more fun when you can look the least like yourself as possible.”

 

If it’s a trick to help preserve her anonymity as she climbs the Hollywood ladder, the Algerian-born actress has managed that pretty well so far. She was the high-kicking, blade-footed assassin in Kingsman: The Secret Service and the white-faced alien scavenger Jaylah in last year’s Star Trek Beyond.

 

Now co-starring with Tom Cruise, she’s just as unrecognisable as the title character in Universal’s new horror reboot, The Mummy. Playing Princess Ahmanet, the mummified Egyptian royal who plans to wreak havoc on the world after her slumber is disturbed, it’s the perfect disguise. But Boutella has no desire to hide on screen – a former dancer for Madonna, she’s a total perfectionist.

 

“I was doing this training for The Mummy, and I filmed myself,” she says. “Watching it, it didn’t look right. I thought: ‘How can we fix that?’ And that’s what I do, when I watch the end result.”

 

Directed by Alex Kurtzman, a former screenwriter whose credits include Star Trek and Cruise’s Mission: Impossible III, The Mummy is the first in a planned series of horror movies reviving the classic Universal monsters of the past. The so-called Dark Universe will see the return of Van Helsing, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and next, in 2019, the Bride of Frankenstein.

 

For The Mummy, Boutella admits it was an “exhausting” process – certainly compared to playing Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond. “The Mummy is something else. The stages where you see her, and meet her, and she regenerates – that requires research and tests, and that was quite tiring. I think it’s one of those films where you can always be one inch from being the worst film ever. It’s finding that fine line.” What does she mean exactly?

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