Category: Photoshoot

Press/Gallery: Sofia Boutella on Her 5-Year Journey to Hollywood

For Bazaar’s 15th Anniversary Issue, Dance-Turned-Actress Sofia Boutella Discusses Learning English with Madonna to Acting Alongside Jodie Foster

 

 

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) – After a long day of work, Sofia Boutella does what many of us do—exchange the day’s ensemble for a trusty pair of sweats. Hers just happen to be a personal gift from Madonna. “She gave me these on my first tour with her,” Boutella, a former professional dancer, explains of the black tracksuit she slips into after wrapping her photo shoot with BAZAAR. “They’re still my favourite comfy clothes,” she shares, completing the off-duty look with a pair of classic Doc Martens. What else would you expect from a terpsichorean, who had just spent the entire day leaping and pirouetting in the heat around downtown Los Angeles?

 

Boutella makes the cover of BAZAAR Malaysia’s 15th Anniversary Issue, which, coincidentally, is exactly how long it’s been since Her Madgesty gifted her the tracksuit. Although she was born in Algeria and raised in France, it was in Los Angeles where Boutella was thrusted into rehearsal upon booking her first gig with Madonna. She was thrilled, of course, but she knew she was standing at the foot of an enormous learning curve. There was choreography to master, the physical demands of a worldwide tour to prepare her body for, and—no big deal—she needed to learn English. “I struggled to understand what everybody was saying, but I had to learn very fast,” she recalls, speaking now in near-perfect English glazed with a French accent. “It was incredible to be thrown into that world. Watching Madonna work, I learned so much.” And learn she did; applying that same energy and passion on set as she would on stage over the years. Case in point: her bold, electrifying dance moves, which seemed to juxtapose against Louis Vuitton’s 18th-century inspired Spring/Summer ’18 collection. Even in a brocade tailcoat (the same one French first lady Brigitte Macron was spotted in, just a few days before our shoot), she keeps it on point—literally, on her toes, dancing through the streets of Vernon.

 

In a world of Insta-fame, Boutella’s career path is a timely reminder of the pay-offs that come with persistence, staying true to oneself, and trusting time. Her first on-screen appearance came in 2002, when she played—surprise!—a dancer in the French movie Le Défi. She loved the experience and enrolled in acting classes, taking on a few more projects in Paris. In the beginning, “it wasn’t that much,” she says. “In the span of four years, [I only had] maybe three or four projects.” She was pursuing dance at the same time, which began to demand more and more of her time. “I decided to devote myself to dance, focus on that, and not have my butt in two chairs,” she says of the conscious decision to shelve her acting ambitions. “The dancing that was required of me at the time was really intense because it required a ton of travel,” she adds. “I was always a suitcase away from any place.”

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Video: Behind the Scenes of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia

Press: Hollywood’s Next Big Thing: ‘Mummy’ Star Once Danced With Madonna and Rihanna

 

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTERThe Algerian-born star, who appears opposite Tom Cruise in Universal’s high-stakes monster tentpole, danced professionally for years before scoring her breakout role in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service.’

 

Sofia Boutella may not have been hidden for 2,000 years like the character she’s playing in Universal’s The Mummy (June 9), but the former professional dancer has re-incarnated herself as a leading actress.

 

Born in Algeria and raised in Paris by a musician father and architect mother, Boutella has been dancing since she was 5. In 2007, at 25, she was chosen as the face (and body) of a Nike campaign; starred in a slew of music videos for Rihanna, Usher, Ne-Yo and Madonna; and starred in two of Madonna’s tours. But when she turned her focus to acting, she gave up dancing for good — the last time she was onstage was at Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl halftime show.

 

“I haven’t even taken a dance class,” she says. “I can’t mess with it. Dancing is too dear to me and I would want to perfect it. I really love acting and I feel like I should give it a proper go.”

 

That year, Boutella landed the lead in StreetDance 2; since then she has built up her career with a breakout role as Kingsman: The Secret Service’s blade-legged assassin and as alien Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond.

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Press: Introducing Sofia Boutella, Your Newest Mummy

 

VANITY FAIR – The Algerian actress, who plays the namesake character in the Tom Cruise remake of the Universal classic, is this season’s breakout action star.

 

AGE: 35.

 

PROVENANCE: Bab el Oued, Algeria.

 

ON POINT: “My family was artistic and encouraged me to express myself. I was a show-off, so they took me to ballet class.”

 

AU REVOIR: “Times were hard for my country when I was young. France had more opportunities, so we left.”

 

INTO THE GROOVE: In Paris, Boutella danced professionally—“it taught me discipline”—and, at 20, she was introduced to Madonna. “We worked together for 10 years. Being on tour is a unique dynamic because its pace is so intense and special. You grow up fast.”

 

BACKGROUND TO FOREGROUND: “Acting has always been a strong force in my life, but it was hard to change direction. I didn’t make a paycheck for two years.”

 

UNWRAPPED: After starring in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond, this summer Boutella plays the title role in The Mummy. “It was important that she was a strong female character who paid respect to the original 1932 film.” As for her co-star? “Tom Cruise is incredible! He loves moviemaking, so it was a pure joy to be on set.”

 

BOMBSHELL: In July, Boutella will continue her action streak, opposite Charlize Theron in David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde. “I love that I can say that I’m busy. Storytelling is important, so I keep exploring and reading, to see what may be out there.”

 

The other photos from the shoot are in the gallery.

Gallery Link:

  • Photoshoots > #064

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