How gorgeous is this? Olga is the November cover star of Harpers Bazaar Malaysia – her full interview can be found below, whilst photos from the editorial have been added to the gallery.
Photoshoots and Portraits > Sessions > Photoshoots from 2017 > Session 005 – Harpers Bazaar Malaysia
Photoshoots and Portraits > Sessions > Behind the Scenes > 2017 – Harpers Bazaar Malaysia
HARPERS BAZAAR MALAYSIA – Olga Kurylenko strides into the middle of the room and holds out an outstretched arm to introduce herself —“Hello, I’m Olga”— to the ten-strong team setting up for the shoot ahead. She’s arrived alone; an unusual move for such a star to quietly pad into our West London location house—manor, actually—without any entourage. And so it seems, without anyone noticing. The picture of relaxed health—porcelain skin, sharp cheekbones, and piercing green eyes—she arrives wearing pastel-pink ballet shoes and a navy celestial-patterned Tara Jarmon dress, grey Loewe handbag in one hand, iPod in the other. It’s all very low-key.
At 37, Kurylenko is the most famous Ukrainian actress in Hollywood acting alongside every leading man you could image, from Tom Cruise to Daniel Craig, cementing herself in silver screen history as a Bond Girl. Born in Berdyansk, Ukraine, Kurylenko was raised by her mother, Marina, and grandmother, Raisa, in a small four-room flat. That’s a long way from the opulent space we find ourselves in today, complete with crimson brocade furniture, humongous sash windows draped with bronze fabric, and the pièce de résistance, a golden grand piano. It’s the perfect setting for this New Extravagance Issue cover shoot, yet as I discover, the woman in front of us is anything but.
Kurylenko, a former ballerina, exudes graceful ease. While other stars prefer to be interviewed during hair and make-up to save on time, she asks to talk beforehand: “I want you to get me while I’m still fresh, before the day takes over.” She kicks off her mud-splattered ballet slippers (typical of the British summer, it’s raining torrentially) and folds her bare feet underneath her, applying lip balm before we start: “I’m obsessed,” she tells me. It’s obvious she’s confident in her own skin. Has she always been this way? “It’s funny,” she muses. “Where I was born, there was none of this, so all that mattered was what was around us, our family, building us up.”
A potted history of Kurylenko’s career: She bared all in her debut film, 2005’s French indie psychodrama L’Annulaire, and again in 2007’s action film Hitman. Some may say that her big break followed in 2008, playing Camille to Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Quantum of Solace. Having shaken off the Bond tag with her captivating performance in 2012’s To the Wonder, she entered action blockbuster territory again in 2013 against Tom Cruise in Oblivion, and currently has three films in post-production, due out next year. Between all of this, she’s taken on her most life-changing role to date, as a mother to a 2-year-old boy. When we speak about him, her whole face lights up. “We spent the weekend at the Diana Memorial Playground in Hyde Park,” she laughs. “He’s very artistic; running around is not for him, he’s very calm. He’ll pick up leaves, throw them into the water, and then sit and watch them. He has a very sweet nature.”
Is it this pivotal new role as a mother that’s led her to the flat shoes and chic, relaxed dress she arrives in today? “Of course,” she laughs. “I live in flats these days. I run around so much during the day, I have to be comfortable.” At what point does the private Kurylenko end and the public one begin? “Ah, that is where clothes come in,” she winks. “Heels, for me, are like putting on my public character. I love power suits, dresses, heels, and a statement red lip when it comes to work events. I love wearing Giorgio Armani, Dior, Chanel … but when it comes to shopping for myself? I don’t have the time,” she sighs. “It’s not laziness. We’re all juggling so many things at once these days, it’s impossible. Who has time to wander around the shops? Online shopping has changed the world.”
And her world has changed indeed. Kurylenko grew up in a communist state: “There were no magazine covers with Hollywood actresses. I didn’t even know that this job existed,” she reminds me. “The first I knew of this world was when I went to Moscow, aged 16, and I was scouted in the subway by a model agent.” She intelligently challenges those who say she’s changed, that she’s forgotten her past. “I prefer to bring my family to the UK, and they prefer it, too. There’s more for them to do. In fact, we’ve just spent the most marvelous summer in Provence, France, together.”
I ask her if being raised by two strong female role models has impacted her decisions to play strong female leads. “I don’t think it was conscious,” she muses. “I was just naturally drawn to those scripts; I’d never say no to a weak character. Every woman is strong, yet without weakness, can we really be strong?”
We muse on this for a while before I ask her who’s the strongest woman she knows. “My mother. She’s done certain things to keep her family safe, she’s survived the war without a man, she took care of everything and made it all happen.” Just then, a photography assistant interrupts to ask if she’d like a coffee from Starbucks. Kurylenko asks for a cappuccino, and then says she’ll drink it cold later; she doesn’t want to interrupt our interview.
I want to know about her skin—is it to the credit of an A-list facialist such as Dr. Lancer or Dr. Gross, both of whom other Hollywood actresses swear by? “I’m so low-maintenance,” she says almost apologetically. “I barely do facials. They’re lovely, but if I want to put my son to bed, I need to use my time wisely, so I use a great at-home facial mask from [celebrity facialist] Su-Man. I put it on at home and walk around the house doing chores.” So far, so un-Hollywood. “I like skincare such as Dr. Hauschka and Liz Earle, and I love La Mer’s Crème de la Mer serum—it’s like magic in a bottle,” she divulges. “I also have this amazing Latvian girl come to my house to do my nails. She’s incredible.”
Kurylenko seems fully aware of the potential dangers of possessing too much fame: “I didn’t grow up with any of this,” she points out as she sweeps her hands around the palatial drawing room. “It’s nice to play the character of the Hollywood actress, but I look at other girls in my position that come from poor countries, and it can go both ways. Either because you didn’t have it, you stay the same because you don’t know it, or you go completely crazy, and you jump in. What happened to me is the first one. I’m attracted to it, I appreciate it, of course I do. I’m a girl, but it’s not in my nature; it’s not vital. It’s great to have comfort and beauty around you if you can afford it, but my extravagances are my friends and family and time.” I push her on this: Does she have a favourite item in her wardrobe? “I don’t think of things in those terms,” she explains. “I’m not so materialistic. I’m more into ‘doing’ than ‘owning’.”
So, for the Hollywood actress who doesn’t crave fashion items or beauty treatments, what is the most extravagant thing she’s done recently? “I actually went to the cinema the other week to see Dunkirk. It felt so real, like I was there. You felt the war. It was very powerful.”
Our time is up and she heads off, cold coffee in hand into hair and make-up, where she greets everyone warmly and starts testing lipsticks on her hand. It hits me that she’s strikingly similar to the character Vera that she played in Magic City. “She lives in luxury but what she’s about is something else,” is how she describes Vera; aptly and uncannily, she’s also Olga.