Under a vanilla sky, in a dusty, open field, a small group of children no older than 10 kicks around a soccer ball. It’s a typical scene in Bab El Oued, a bustling neighborhood of Algiers. On closer inspection, however, the ball reveals itself to be nothing more than a big clump of sticky tape. It is bundled together and tossed around to the delight of the laughing girls and boys, oblivious to their underprivileged environment. “Those years in Algeria were some of the best of my life,” says Sofia Boutella from her home in Los Angeles. With two films scheduled for a summer release – The Mummy in June and Atomic Blonde in July – it’s difficult to imagine any one of the dancer-turned-actor’s 35 years to be anything short of extraordinary.
In a tone that is borderline blasé, Boutella tells me that she is gearing up to embark on her first international press tour for The Mummy, along with her co-stars Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. The trailers for the film feature the usual explosion scenes and run-for-your-life sprints associated with action star Cruise. Boutella plays the headline role of the mummy, Princess Ahmanet. Thousands of years ago, the princess was chosen to be Egypt’s next queen – but her ambition got the better of her, and she was buried alive. Resurrected as “the mummy,” Boutella’s character is a tornado of fury. Her ghost roars through the wind, menacing entire cities; her athletic body breaks through chains; her eyes flicker with feral emotion – mostly hate and vengeance. In other words, don’t expect Boutella to play a lifeless prop in bandages. It’s not her first brush with Egyptian role-play, either: in 2012, she was a principal backup dancer for Madonna’s Cleopatra-themed Super Bowl halftime show. “I stopped dancing because I wanted to dedicate everything to acting,” says Boutella. Another reason, perhaps, is that she already twirled her way to the pinnacle of success as a dancer in the entertainment industry. With even Michael Jackson and Madonna reportedly fighting over her to perform in their respective tours, there were little to no challenges left for her to overcome.
Sofia Boutella, who wreaks havoc as the titular monster in Universal’s upcoming “The Mummy,” is in talks to join Jodie Foster in Drew Pearce’s “Hotel Artemis.”
Simon and Stephen Cornwell are producing for The Ink Factory, which will also finance. Pearce, whose writing credits include “Iron Man 3” and “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” will direct from his own script. The logline is under wraps.
Adam Siegel and Marc Platt are producing for Marc Platt Productions. Pearce will executive produce through his Point of No Return production banner.
The project is expected to launch international sales next month at the Cannes Film Festival.
Boutella’s star has been on the rise since breaking out as Samuel Jackson’s henchman in Fox’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” The Algerian actress followed that up with a major role in last summer’s “Star Trek Beyond,” and also landed the role of “The Mummy” in Universal’s reboot next month, making her the first female to portray the monster in long-running horror franchise.
She also has the spy thriller “Atomic Blonde” opening this July where she stars opposite Charlize Theron. She is repped by CAA and 42.
‘It was important to me that this character had a backstory, you know?’
Trained as a dancer with a long résumé in music videos, actress Sofia Boutella has exploded on to the blockbuster scene in the last few years with scene-stealing roles in Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond. Boutella’s got a pair of high-profile roles this summer. In Atomic Blonde, she shares a steamy scene with Charlize Theron. Expect less steam, and much more immortal terror, in The Mummy, the Universal reboot of its iconic undead monster. Boutella plays Princess Ahmanet – the first time that the 85-year-old franchise has featured a female character in the title role. The actress talked to EW for our Summer Movie Preview about the roots of Ahmanet’s rage and the research that went into the role.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Can you tell us a little bit about your character’s backstory?
SOFIA BOUTELLA: I’m an Egyptian princess who is promised to become Pharaoh, and is deceived by her father. He removes that promise from her because he has a child, and the child is a son. Having nothing to lose, she summons the wrong god, in order to get what she wanted, that power that will give her what she was promised. She’s put aside for a very long time because she became dangerous. In modern times, she comes back, to go after what she was promised to receive, to begin with.
Given that motivation, her actions seem a little more justified than the typical monster-movie villain.
It was important to me that this character had a backstory, you know? It’s the first time that you see a female Mummy. She can’t be just a monster walking around scaring people. There needs to be something significant her shining through. To explore that psychology in her, what happened to her as a woman: Being deceived, because there’s a boy who comes into the picture all of a sudden.
So what’s it like to be buried in a coffin?
It felt very claustrophobic. I couldn’t move on my own. I had to be moved from the table where they were wrapping me to the coffin. I’d never felt like that before. It felt really real. It’s truly intimidating. It made me feel not that great, to be honest! [laughs] I couldn’t talk, too. Very oppressing!
What kind of research did you do for getting into the character? Did you watch the past Mummy movies?
I did watch the 1932 one. I’ve seen it in the past when I was little, but I wanted to see it again, to look at what Boris Karloff did. I researched a lot about Egyptian mythology and Egyptian civilization. I researched kings and queens: How they would carry themselves, how they were painted and portrayed. I needed to get inside of Ahmanet, and I needed to find that rhythm.
When you’re powerful like that, especially in the time, respect was approached differently. People used to respect royalty to an insane extent that doesn’t exist nowadays. These people never shouted. They never moved, really. Their effort was minimum. They were the most powerful people, but they were just calm.
The Mummy will introduce audiences to a new cinematic universe focused on the Universal monsters. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but would you want to explore this character further in another movie?
Yes, of course! I really love her. I enjoyed exploring every aspect of her. I think she’s a complex character. Her story, and where she comes from, is really interesting to play.
The Mummy is out June 9.
On Monday night, Sofia attended The Met Gala: ‘Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between’ in New York wearing a gown designed by Marni. I will be adding more photos today as they all become available.
Sofia did a photoshoot for C Magazine and the pics are beautiful! I hope when the Mummy comes out we’ll get plenty of new photoshoots from Sofia.
A Chinese trailer for Universal’s The Mummy has been released, and it offers a lot more about the film, the plot, the characters, and the action that we’ll be seeing. While it seems like there won’t be intense horror, there are plenty of horror elements present throughout. Definitely more than enough to spark my interest!
Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: The Mummy. The cast also includes Annabelle Wallis (King Arthur, “Peaky Blinders”), Jake Johnson (Jurassic World), Courtney B. Vance (“American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson”), Oscar winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator), and Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Star Trek Beyond) as the titular character.
The creative team on this action-adventure event is led by director/producer Alex Kurtzman and producer Chris Morgan. Sean Daniel, who produced the most recent Mummy trilogy, produces alongside Kurtzman and Morgan. The script is by Jon Spaihts and Christopher McQuarrie.
Look for The Mummy in theaters on June 9, 2017. For more info in the meantime, keep your eyes on themummy.com.
Welcome to the first and only fansite for Sofia Boutella!! I fell in love with Sofia when I saw her as Jaylah and watched everything I could find on her so I just had to make a fansite for her. Whether you’re a fan of her dancing or acting, I hope to provide you the most up-to-date news and photos from Sofia’s life and career. Currently the site is still a work in process. Soon I’ll be adding a press section, video gallery, as well as completing the photo gallery. If you’re one of Sofia’s French fans and have some of her French films and TV appearances, I’d be most grateful if you’d send me a copy. Any donations are welcome in fact!
Enjoy the site and also the second trailer for Atomic Blonde!