Sofia Boutella fully came to my attention with 2014’s Kingsman film, but it wasn’t until she was cast in June 2017’s The Mummy that I started paying attention. I was aware that she’d be playing the alien Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond (a movie I’m also quite excited to see) and when she was first announced as “in talks” to star in The Mummy as The Mummy, I was fully on board with the idea. But who is Sofia Boutella? Why did this newcomer seem so must worthy? What was it about Ms. Boutella that made her so charismatic and such an interesting choice for such an iconic role? I endeavored to find out. The answer – Sofia Boutella is a new kind of actress!
Sofia Boutella is a classically trained dancer recognizable as a back-up for Madonna during the Confessions Tour and Sticky and Sweet Tour, along with being a model in several Nike ads. She was born in Algeria and raised in France. Moving to Los Angeles, she continued her dance training, but in her eyes, she’s viewed it more as “acting.” In an interview with IndieLondon, Boutella cited her time working with Madonna as a performance each and every time on stage. Starring in StreetDance 2, alongside Falk Hentschel (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), this role for her garnered praise, with Mark Adams of Screen Daily saying that Boutella is ” a real find and surely destined to be a big star.”
Sofia Boutella was “a real find” in StreetDance 2 and this would eventually be acknowledged by a far greater audience after she was cast in her first major role in a Hollywood film – Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014). But that didn’t come as easy. Sometime after Boutella performed with Madonna during the 2012 Super Bowl, she “stopped dancing without any backup plan whatsoever.” Wanting to pursue acting as that was her passion – a longing to perform, she admitted in an interview with W magazine:
“I don’t fit in any box. People don’t know if I’m Indian, half-white, half-black. Sometimes they think I’m Brazilian!”
Despite not fitting “in any box”, it was Boutella’s athleticism, movements, and elegant look unlike any other actress that helped secure her a role as Gazelle, the double amputee, blade legged assassin. She booked the film in two days and while she found it overwhelming at times, she always tried to “just have fun”, especially at the recommendation of co-star Samuel L. Jackson. As Chris Nolan once famously wrote about a particular quality an actor needed to have – “charisma as natural as gravity,” Sofia Boutella is a real natural with an engaging presence on screen and off.
I had the pleasure of seeing Sofia Boutella perform live with Madonna at Madison Square Garden back in October of 2008. I’ve only recognized the name Sofia Boutella recently, but I’ve known her for some time. Despite the countless dancers and performers, Boutella has always stood out in the performances I’ve seen her in. She’s been prominently featured live on stage, in music videos, and alongside the likes of the late Michael Jackson; she definitely exists in a rare place not many get to occupy.
Having the background and established career as a dancer, and on her way to becoming an established name among general theater goers, especially with this summer’s Star Trek Beyond, it will be interesting to see the kind of roles Sofia Boutella signs on for. With her role as Jaylah in Star Trek Beyond, she’s almost unrecognizable as she’s covered in alien makeup. While we don’t know that much about The Mummy, other than make-up and hair designer Elizabeth Georgio finds it “awesome” and that it looks to film in Malta, it’s likely that the film will be special effects and make-up heavy. With Boutella playing The Mummy, this could very well be another movie in the tradition of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond that showcases the actress in a form different than her own.
It’s an interesting thing to ponder as we don’t see as many actresses go for more of the creature kind of roles. Sometimes it has to do with offers, other times ego, but with Sofia Boutella? We’re getting a new kind of actress. One more passionate about making something she enjoys, something fun. Boutella also has a role in the upcoming film The Coldest City, alongside the likes of Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, and John Goodman. It’s based on an ONI Press graphic novel written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart. While we don’t know anything of Boutella’s role, it should be another fine moment in her burgeoning career.
I’m very excited for Sofia Boutella and I can’t wait to see The Mummy. It’s definitely going to be different than what we’ve seen in Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and Arnold Vosloo’s performance. However, it could very well be the most exciting to watch to date. With Sofia Boutella, we know we’ll be getting something great.
Not many actors and actresses have the background and training like stars did in the early days of Hollywood. But Sofia Boutella does. She can dance, she can act, she does her own stunts! There’s nothing fake about it and such an uninhibited quality like that only naturally lends itself to having charisma as natural as gravity.
Boutella is represented by CAA, 42 and Felker Toczek.
The Mummy releases June 9, 2017. It is directed by Alex Kurtzman and written by Jon Spaihts.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)