Remember Olga Kurylenko’s white-hot breakthrough as Bond Girl Camille in Quantum Of Solace, when she managed to make a dusty black cocktail dress and bare feet look a million dollars? Well, if you ask the lady herself, she’ll tell you she’s not actually much of a little black dress kind of girl. ‘Oh, I’d always rather be in colours,’ she says, eyeing up a bright orange Emilia Wickstead ensemble on the rail at the InStyle shoot. ‘I’m that sort of person.’
Olga’s upbringing in Ukraine didn’t feature any fancy designer threads. Growing up in a cramped flat in Berdyansk, during one particularly cold winter her mother had to cut pieces off her own coat and sew them onto Olga’s just to keep her warm. It was when a model scout approached her on a trip to Moscow that everything changed. By the age of 16 she was modelling in Paris for brands like Cavalli and Kenzo. The transition to acting began in her twenties with a handful of French movies, before she won the role opposite Daniel Craig.
Since then we’ve watched Olga tackle everything from big-budget action thrillers with Tom Cruise (Oblivion) to critically acclaimed art-house numbers (Terrence Malick’s To The Wonder), and she’s relocated from Paris to London, though all those years spent living across the Channel have left her with a laid-back air of Gallic cool, and she dips into fluent French several times on the shoot. She was in a long-term relationship with American Horror Story actor Danny Huston, but the two broke up last year and she’s currently single (form an orderly queue, boys).
This month she’s starring in Russell Crowe’s feature-film directorial debut The Water Diviner, a First World War film set between Australia and Turkey. Olga leads opposite Crowe as Ayshe, the owner of a Turkish hotel who he falls in love with on a search for his missing sons. We sat down with her to talk about working with Russell, Parisian style and why she’d never blow silly amounts of money on clothes.
How are you finding the InStyle shoot today?
‘There’s no colour I wouldn’t wear, so I love everything on the rail. I’m also quite relieved about the no make-up look. I think it’s better. My face changes when I wear make-up, I don’t recognise myself.’
Do you think a love of minimal make-up comes from the time you spent living in Paris?
‘Well, it’s definitely not because I lived in Ukraine! [Laughs] It is true that women in Paris never put on make-up. It shocked me when I first got there, then I realised how much I liked it.’
You were just 16 when you moved there from Ukraine. Was it hard leaving home so young? ‘For the first year I was extremely lonely. But once I got there I was determined to stay; failure was not an option. Now I can have a glass of wine, but back then no way, because Mummy said, “Don’t drink,” and I was obedient. I now think, “Thank god,” because I saw girls get into some crazy stuff.’
Has your upbringing affected how you spend money now?
‘Definitely. I’m very careful. I think about everything. Some people go, “Oh, I went out and bought something and didn’t realise how much it was,” but there’s no such thing with me. I always think about the future because I never want to go backwards.’
Do you have any specific memories from growing up in Ukraine?
‘I was on the beach every summer. That was the pleasant part of my childhood, because we were right by the sea. We’d take a picnic and I’d spend hours in the water until I turned blue. You couldn’t get me out of there.’
Are you still close to your family?
‘I Skype them all the time and we talk on the phone. My mum is actually here right now, so we’re hanging out.’
How was it working with Russell on The Water Diviner? He’s got quite a fiery reputation.
‘Oh no, he was wonderful on set. It was a pleasure working with him. Acting against him I could see how effortless his work is. He’s a natural.’
What do you think about those Idris Elba Bond rumours?
‘Why not? If he’s up for it and they want him, I think he’d be great.’
Where will we see you next?
‘I’m going to be in a film called A Perfect Day. It’s a drama about the war in Bosnia. And then Momentum, which is a pure action film with a lot of running and fighting and shooting. After doing a historical film like The Water Diviner it’s good to mix things up.’
Styling by Amy Bannerman, photographs by Henrik Bülow
The Water Diviner is in cinemas from 3 April