Bond Girl Rises From Soviet Childhood

The Charger Bulletin

BERDYANSK, Ukraine–Olga Kurylenko, the model and actress who stars in
the upcoming James Bond movie, began acting by playing Santa Claus’
young wife in a school play in her Ukrainian hometown.

Teachers remember Kurylenko, the 28-year-old brunette who charms 007 in
Quantum of Solace, for the determination, drive and luck that turned
her into a Bond Girl.

“She was such a talented girl,” said her hometown piano teacher, Halina
Kulchitska. “Even if she hadn’t become James Bond’s girl, she still
would have gotten some big role.”

Kurylenko grew up in this city of 140,000 on the Azov Sea in
southeastern Ukraine, where monuments made from giant metal anchors dot
the city center and middle-aged men spend their free time fishing along
the main embankment, cigarettes in their mouths.

Raised by her mother, Marina, an art teacher, and her grandmother, a
doctor, Kurylenko and her family lived in a three-room apartment not
far from the city center. That was a luxury by Soviet standards, when
many lived in communal flats, sharing the kitchen and bathroom with
several families.

Today her crumbling five-story apartment building, where carpets,
comforters and underpants are hung to dry in the courtyard and children
play on rusting slides, is testimony to how far she’s traveled since

In Moscow on Monday to promote the film, Kurylenko expressed
incredulity over being a Bond Girl. “I still don’t believe it and don’t
think that I realize it yet,” she told Associated Press Television News.

In the movie, Bond (Daniel Craig) and Kurylenko’s character, Camille, try to save Bolivia’s water supplies.

“Camille is quite a strong woman, very independent. She carries a wound
which comes from her childhood,” said Kurylenko. “There is something
very terrible that happened to her when she was a little girl and
everything she focuses on is revenge connected to this event and that
is her motivation in the movie.”

Kurylenko’s star began to rise at 16 when she was spotted by a model
scout in the subway in Moscow, where she was on vacation. She moved to
Paris to work in a modeling agency, then began a career as an actress.

Kurylenko’s drama teacher, Ina Kaminska, said her student simply got lucky.

“It’s all great, just great, we are all very happy–she became a
Cinderella–but nevertheless when she was in my class I didn’t see that
kind of future for her,” the 70-year-old Kaminska said.
Kurylenko got one of her first main roles after she joined the school
drama class in the seventh grade, playing the young wife of Grandfather
Frost, the local equivalent of Santa Claus.