While the idea of uncovering the Mummy in modern day seems like an easy enough leap (misbehaving soldiers looking to make a buck on the black market fit into any era), a film like Universal’s The Mummy needs to make damn sure that it’s got a great monster if it’s going to convince. Luckily for director Alex Kurtzman, he watched Kingsman: The Secret Service and knew that he’d found his star: Sofia Boutella. However, there was a significant speed bump early on.
“I said no,” laughs Boutella, who dons the bandages to play Princess Ahmanet. “I said no because I was terrified of the amount of time in the make-up. I just did Star Trek Beyond and I spent a long time in make-up every day and I was like ‘not again’.
“Also I was afraid to play a monster and that it would stick to me and I wouldn’t be able to be seen any differently. When you’re a woman it’s hard in this industry so I thought I’m never going to survive that one. I thought I prefer to wait and do something else, and Alex said ‘I just would like to meet with her anyway.’”
The conversations that followed focused on the character, a Princess whose insatiable lust for power led to the worst possible punishment, and who, once reawakened, will use every supernatural means at her disposal to finish what she started.
“My main note was that I thought this character could be better if there was a human aspect, a sensitivity to her and a reason to evolve the way she does, like some sort of deep psychology,” Boutella explains.
“It was not interesting for me to have just a monster looking scary or creepy walking around this town. And he understood and he said that the script I read was just the first draft, it was just so the ball keeps rolling and that it would happen, he promised. And I said ok. And then I thought afterwards –everything that I thought I said no for, it’s actually why now I’m saying yes. She’s a female monster, you never see that, and she’s strong, that she would now get a voice and I’m embracing the transformation and even if it’s going to be a long process… I’ve been given the opportunity and the chance so far to play roles and characters that are really interesting to watch and I’m like ‘Why change that?’”
The result was a character that Boutella describes as “something that I could carry, and I think I just relate to it and I understood her and I felt compassion for her. I wanted to be scary when it was necessary for it to be scary and I wanted to be human as much as possible as well. To humanise the character – that was very important to me.”
The Mummy is in cinemas from today. Get all the latest science fiction news with every issue of SciFiNow.