As the raging terror Ahmanet in The Mummy, Sofia Boutella unleashes ancient horrors on a very modern world. Speaking with WHO about the part, Boutella concedes, "I had to find quite a lot of visceral anger that I don't have personally, but I had to enhance that and use that, along with her own circumstances." The Algerian actress, 35, who began her entertainment career as a professional dancer for Michael Jackson, Madonna and others, tells WHO more about her current blockbuster life.
Q: You both terrify and seduce Tom Cruise in The Mummy. What was it like to work with him and did you scare him with any pranks?
A: I didn't do that, no! [Laughs] I think the stakes were too high and I had too much on my plate. We did have nice, lovely chats and we laughed so much on set but we focused a lot, you know? We worked crazy hours and I spent a long time in the makeup chair. I had very little time to sleep because of the time necessary to bring my character to life, but I absolutely adored being on set with him. He is phenomenal and his movie knowledge is incredible and he shares that so well with his cast members. He is so generous with it.
Q: What did you take away from working with Russell Crowe?
A: You know, I had that scene with him in the Prodigium and we don't exchange words but we do have a lot of eye contact. I remember when he first came to set. It was his first day of filming and I told [director] Alex [Kurtzman] I had to be there. I wanted to see him and he's so good. His voice is so hypnotising! He's such an incredible actor.
Q: Are you a fan of monster movies?
A: I actrually grew up watching monster movies. I loved them and I was a big fan of horror movies when I was little.
Q: So your character is now part of a 'Dark Universe' of monster films. Would you ever consider returning to the franchise?
A: Yes, I would love that. It would be an honour to bring her back. I think it would be amazing.
Q: Aside from acting, you made a style statement at the Met Gala in April. What was your first Met Gala like?
A: It was pretty incredible. I was surprised when they invited me and they said that Anna Wintour was the one who sent me the invitation. She paired me with Marni and I had a lot of fun. I mean, I've never done that before, but it was so interesting to observe. Every red carpet I had done before was directed towards a movie.
Q: Do you enjoy getting glammed up?
A: I feel like I am having a lot of fun playing dress-up with my stylist and finding looks. It's like being little and playing dolls.
Q: What does your time as a professional dancer bring to your acting?
A: I enjoy the ability that I have to notice body language and postures. I think I bring that with me to everything I do. I think for my characters, I'll observe people and I see the way that they sit, the way that they move — that tells me so much of the story, and I also apply the discipline that will never go away. I think the discipline of a dancer is super-strength, and I take that with me in everything that I do.
Q: You will next be in Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron?
A: It was different because our lovely director, David Leitch, who is a former stunt coordinator, didn't see me as a go-to stunt girl, and I thought, 'That's actually cool.' I had fun playing a naïve character, a bit more fragile. She's not knowing exactly everything about what's she's doing, a character who's a bit more vulnerable.
Q: And you will be working with Jodie Foster in Hotel Artemis?
Q: Do you have any time to relax?
A: I haven't relaxed in a long time! But I will. But I love working. I love my job and I feel so lucky that I want to stay focused.
To read more about Sofia Boutella, pick up the latest issue of WHO on newsstands today.