The November Man: Olga Kurylenko on Confusing Her Audience

I’ve been fortunate to interview Olga Kurylenko periodically for her film and TV work. I first met her for Quantum of Solace, where I was already familiar with her from Hitman and Max Payne. Now that I interviewed her for each season of “Magic City” she remembers me. Kurylenko’s role in The November Man is more than the film’s poster may let on. She does indeed wear that miniskirt and wig but it’s for complicated purposes. For most of the movie, Alice (Kurylenko) just works with refugees of Eastern European conflict, when Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan) saves her from being an assassin’s target. We kept the plot vague as we discussed the truth about Alice’s role in The November Man.

Related: Pierce Brosnan on Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Casino Royale’

CraveOnline: The poster has an image of you in the wig and the miniskirt, but that’s not really what Alice is about, is she? 

Olga Kurylenko: Not at all, so it’s a big surprise. People might be so confused thinking, “What’s going on and when is she going to get in those clothes?” That’s what I liked about the character. She gets to also dress up and disguise, to play another character. She’s acting. She’s acting like someone else at some point.

The fact that she’s such a crucial key to all the questions that are asked, she contains that valuable information which is why everybody is after her, the CIA is after her and she’s suddenly on the run. Yet, she’s just this simple girl who works at an office. She’s not an agent. She’s not a highly trained professional, a weapon to kill, none of that. It’s a different thing. 

She’s a simple girl who works in an office at the Refugees Center, helps the victims of sex trafficking. Suddenly she’s involved in this crazy situation that she doesn’t understand at the beginning. Little by little, she discovers herself what’s going on and we discover with her. Then actually she discovers that she’s the key.

So you like that sort of misdirect between what they’re showing people and what she actually is?

Exactly, and that’s always a challenge and the fun part to play that character because you have to be your character, but yet you can’t give everything away. The fact that you have to also follow your line of development, you have to keep developing your character and you have to, in a way, confuse the audience.

The whole fun about a good thriller is the confusion and the suspense, the fact that they have no idea what’s going to happen. If they know, it’s a bad sign. When you’re trying to figure out what exactly is going on and you think you’ve figured it out and you realize you’re wrong, that’s when it’s great because you didn’t see that coming. That is fun to make.

You happen to have ended up being in a number of action movies. Was action a genre you’re a fan of and something you pursued?

You know, I love a good thriller. A thriller always has a twisted story so I love suspense. Just action without a good story is never great. The November Man has that interesting story that is so unpredictable which is why I’m really honored to have been part of it. I’m part of that puzzle. My character is the last piece of the puzzle when suddenly you discover the whole picture and you understand what has been happening. But, the genre of action-thriller is great to watch when it’s well-made and it’s fun to make. It’s a lot of fun on set.

When you’re running through streets and alleys and kitchens with Pierce Brosnan…

It’s fun.

Those might be very different locations. Do you already know how it’s going to cut together?

Not at all.

You just trust Roger Donaldson that it’s going to work.

Oh, of course. I trusted Roger because I already got a feeling. First of all, I knew that he was a wonderful director and second of all, just from the ambience on set and the way he was, how attentive he was to suggestions, to how open he was to just listen to what I had to say about character. He was so thorough, so detail-oriented that you trust a person like that. You see that nothing escapes him. He saw everything. He saw absolutely everything.

To my great surprise, I was seeing all these little details in the movie that he left. He concentrated on the details which is why this movie is so different from the others because it’s not just a broad story. He always puts the camera right in, when there is a cut or a punch or a phone that shatters. You really feel it because there are lots of closeups. His style of filming is very interesting, I find.

Did you audition for Roger?

No, it was an offer. Pierce and Beau [St. Clair], they produced the movie.

Did they tell you why they chose you?

Beau told me that it was after Hitman that I was on their mind. Funny enough, that was before I was even meant to do Bond.

It’s been in development that long?

Yeah, because Hitman came first. Hitman was my first English speaking film. Apparently , I was on their minds which is a big honor again for me. The people I admire so much, Pierce, who is such a great actor and such a legend because of everything he’s done, suddenly he’s thinking of me for this movie. It’s touching.

And what an honor that they stuck with you for the six or seven years it took to develop. A lot can happen in that time.

I know. That’s true.

Had “Magic City” already ended when November Man finally went into production?

Yes, it already ended because I shot this in July last year.

Did you know they’re making another Hitman movie?

I was just told by someone before you. It’ll be interesting. I don’t know who they picked for it. Who is the hitman?

Rupert Friend.

Okay, wow. Yeah, I’ll watch it.

Were you disappointed about “Magic City?” Would you have wanted to do a third season?

Very much, yes. I really loved that show. I enjoyed doing it. I loved the part. I loved Vera. Oh, I would love to do it again and I’m still hoping that something is going to happen and we’ll go back to it. We’re all devastated, all of us. We loved it.

Where would you have seen Vera go in a third season?

Ooh, it’s a good one. That’s what’s great about it. It ended in such a beginning in a way. It wasn’t even the end because it didn’t end. There were so many ways to go. Particularly for Vera, but for other characters too, it ended in so many possibilities of continuing the story. I can’t say because is she going to stay with her husband or is she going to go with Stevie? There was such a conflict in the end. That’s why a lot of people were upset because they wanted to know where it’s going, and suddenly that was taken away from them.

Did Mitch Glazer have more story to tell?

Absolutely, yeah. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. You never know.

Do you have a lot of other movies you shot since last summer coming out still?

Yes, so The Water Diviner is going to come out, maybe in December. That’s Russell Crowe’s movie that he directed. I play a Turkish woman there, I speak Turkish. Then there will be A Perfect Day. That’s a Spanish movie but in English, with Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins. The last one I did was Momentum. That’s an action film directed by Stephen Campanelli with James Purefoy.

Did you audition for Russell Crowe? 

No, it was an offer. It’s amazing. Actually, to all these three films I just mentioned, I did not audition. They were offers. It’s great. It’s very honoring because you realize that people now know your work, otherwise there wouldn’t be offers. That means I’m progressing in my skills little by little. It’s wonderful, but for certain things I have to audition. It depends. If it’s a big, huge, project, but yeah, I haven’t auditioned in a while.

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.


// ad on openWeb