Forget the chatter about the likes of Idris Elba becoming ‘the first black Bond’.
Olga Kurlyenko, who played revenge-seeking spy Camille Montes in 2008 Bond film Quantum Of Solace, wants to become the first female 007.
In her new thriller Momentum, Kurylenko plays a trained killer who specialises in tackling adversaries who look like extras from a Burberry campaign. It’s all a little bit… well, James Bond.
“I’d love to play a female equivalent of Bond,” laughed Kurylenko when Loaded met her at an office in London’s Soho. “What would I be called? Jessica Bond.”
Rather than join the fight to take over from Craig, Kurylenko reckons there’s room for a whole new Jessica Bond franchise to help net Bond’s makers more millions.
Ed Miliband made the prospect of a female Bond seem as dull as his 8ft election manifesto slab when he said in April he wanted Rosamund Pike to be the first woman 007.
Kurylenko manages to sex it up a tad. “James Bond is a man, so he can’t suddenly turn into a woman,” she smiled. “But there could definitely be a franchise where a Bond woman is the hero.”
The latest Bond film Spectre certainly showed people are lapping up the veteran misogynist. It broke British box-office records when it opened in October, taking £40million in its opening weekend. That smashed the previous record set by Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban.
The 36-year-old has clearly given the matter some thought. But then her Momentum role as the death-defying Alex Faraday has given the Ukraine-born Kurylenko plenty of time to ponder becoming the first female Bond.
“Saving the world is what I always dreamed about doing as a little girl,” explained Kurylenko, curled on a sofa. “I’m kind of fulfilling my childhood fantasy.”
“If a Bond girl is a smart, strong and responsible woman then she can still be a Bond girl. I always wanted to be a strong woman”
Growing up in Ukraine, Kurylenko had no contact with her father Konstantin, who split with her mother Marina when Olga was just three. The lack of a father figure was no obstacle to her natural tomboy instincts.
“Instead of wanting to be a princess when I was younger, I wanted to be a soldier,” she said in her unique accent, a mix of Ukrainian, Parisian, American and London. Whatever the voice is, it’s captivating.
“I’d dress up in military clothes and play war with the boys. At that age, you don’t understand why you do things. But I guess I just always wanted to be a strong woman.”
It’d take a brave soul to call Kurylenko anything other than strong. And she sees Bond girls as powerful role models. The actress, who has also starred with Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner and Tom Cruise in Oblivion, rejects fellow former Bond girl Honor Blackman’s view that people should stop using the phrase ‘Bond girl’ as it’s sexist.
Blackman, who played the immortally-named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger, says the correct term should be simply to identify any female in a 007 movie as women and actresses. But Kurylenko says it was an “honour” to be dubbed a Bond girl. She added, “If you compare them now to the character Honor played, the role is completely different. It’s not really about the name, it’s about what it contains. If a Bond girl is a smart, strong and responsible woman then she can still be a Bond girl. Why not?”
Warming to her theme, Kurylenko insisted, “The title of Bond girl has such a history now. It’s like a relic or an antique which keeps evolving. So the name has to stay. It’s almost like it should be framed.”
Momentum, in cinemas now, has been mauled by critics, but it is at least a decent stab at showing off Kurylenko’s potential to play Jessica Bond. The first film from Canadian director Stephen S. Campanelli, it has a knack for brutal violence as Kurylenko’s handy Alex Faraday is chased across Cape Town by an American government agent played by James Purefoy.
Brit actor Purefoy subjects Faraday to some particularly nasty torture, which tested Kurylenko more than filming Bond ever did.
“Being an action hero is so intense,” sighed Kurylenko. “It’s non-stop hard work, no days off. Crazy training, it’s just full-on.”
So did it make the woman worth £12million believe she could have been a soldier after all? “I couldn’t pull off most of that action stuff in real life,” she admitted. “But I probably have a streak of Faraday and Camille Montes in me. I try to carry everything on my shoulders in real life. I struggle to share responsibility and everyone around me wants to know why I don’t just ask for help.”
Kurylenko is certainly the independent type. She was discovered by a leading Russian model agency when she was 13 while on holiday in Moscow and moved to Paris when she was just 16, 20 years ago.
While in Paris, she was twice married, to photographer Cedric van Mol and businessman Damian Gabrielle. After she and Gabrielle divorced eight years ago, Kurylenko set up home in London.
Her cosmopolitan life means she’s now living in Italy, though she claims she rarely takes it easy. “Some people enjoy being lazy, but I have a real problem with it,” she frowned. “I get bored sitting around. But saying, ‘I absolutely have to achieve that’ is just stressing yourself out too much. You’ve got to keep moving forward. I’m most comfortable when I’m evolving.”
Loaded reporter Robert McCallum has written for many leading culture magazines and websites about music, sport, science, politics, fashion and arts. Follow Robert at @therobmccallum