A fairly important component to any James Bond adventure, besides high tech gadgets and bespoke evening wear, is, of course, the stunts. Whether it’s using the professional doubles cast to make Daniel Craig and other 007 actors look like superhumans, or if it’s with the cast members themselves doing the heavy lifting, there’s some insane work that goes into the action-packed visuals of any Bond adventure. Which makes the fact that actor Olga Kurylenko did some of the actual stuntwork all the more impressive, as she honestly thought she was going to die in a particularly tense set-piece in 2008’s Quantum of Solace.
During my conversation with Ms. Kurylenko, on behalf of the recent home video release of her latest film, The Room, we got to talking about her experience in the second Daniel Craig entry in the modern run of the Bond franchise. Perhaps the best story to come out of this conversation is the one that’s about to unfold. After an intense training regimen that put Olga Kurylenko through the wringer (in all the best ways), the actual shoot for Quantum of Solace saw her and Daniel Craig partake in an extended sequence where Bond and Camille are involved in a whole bunch of nautical action. And as Kurylenko describes below, that action was actually taking place on set:
I remember thinking, ‘Ok, this is the day of my death. I’m going to die today.’ It was so intense, because the thing is, it was real. You would think, ‘Oh this is some sort of computer graphic.’ But no, we were in that boat, and we had that other boat charging straight at us. We were basically going towards each other in super super high speed. Just flying through the water.
Before we go too much further into the story, you really should rewatch the boat chase sequence from Quantum of Solace. An impressive sequence in its own right, it’s all the more spectacular when you realize that this isn’t some visual marvel that took a green screen and water tank approach. What you’re about to see actually happened, on location, with Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko present in the moment:
The title Quantum of Solace could probably describe what Kurylenko and Craig felt once director Marc Forster yelled “Cut” on this specific instance of stunt work. Especially when, in a marvelous piece of fight choreography, Olga Kurylenko’s Camille has to fight Bond as he’s driving the boat. And that fight ends with her in an arms locked stalemate with the man she just pinned to the steering console of a small boat.
But before that fight even got to take place, there was the moment where, just as it looked like Camille was being sent to her assured doom, 007 rams the boat she’s sailing on with the very vessel she’d flee aboard. A moment like that needs a lot of training, and some serious advisory for an actor like Olga Kurylenko, who undertook her first big action movie in Quantum of Solace. Having intensely trained for several weeks, and after a rigorous audition process that saw her and Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot emerge as two of the four finalists, Kurylenko was about to take some pretty big steps into a career that’d see her confidently venture into doing a lot more action films.
Mixing footage of stunt performers doubling for both Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko, as well as practical moments with both actors actually involved, the Quantum of Solace boat chase was shot over four weeks, and saw Kurylenko practicing some of her scenes fully kitted out with a helmet and protective padding, as well as being attached for safety. That all changed when it came time to shoot the practical sequences for the movie proper, which prompted the following safety talk between Olga and the stunt coordinator:
I remember when the stunt coordinator came to me, looked me in the eye, and said, ‘Olga, we’re very serious. Hold on, ok? No matter what, just hold on for your life, because the shock is going to be very strong, and you might get thrown into the water. So no matter what you do, you just hold on tightly, ok. Look at me, this is very important.’ And I just thought, ‘Oh my god, this is real.’ Because that boat hit us, for real. It wasn’t a mocap, it’s the real thing. … I was like, ‘Wow, these guys are not kidding.’
While a practical approach such as the one Quantum of Solace took towards this particular stunt enhances the moments captured on film, it does mean that a lot preparation and planning are going to have to be executed. That’s also true on the acting side of the fence, as Olga Kurylenko had to very quickly recover from the boat impact, attempt to pull her gun on her target of vengeance, General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), and then get into her first scuffle with James Bond.
Of course, the fact that this was all happening for real helped add a sort of method acting layer to this prolonged beat of action. But much as she maintained her cool during auditioning to be in Quantum of Solace, Olga Kurylenko kept cool on camera and delivered a sterling performance as one of the most formidable Bond Women of the modern era. Though you may not have seen it, she does admit that yes, she was definitely scared when it was all going down:
I was terrified myself, but you have to act. Because I think we were having some sort of conversation, and I was shouting something to him. At that point, it’s better than acting, that was all real. There was a real sense of danger, we not pretending we’re scared, and it’s dangerous. We were scared for real. … It’s funny to think about it now … those are good memories.
As Daniel Craig is set to send his suits to the cleaner for the last time as James Bond after the release of No Time To Die, reflecting on his tenure is something a lot of people are going to find themselves doing in the run up to that final adventure. And while some may disagree to the quality of Quantum of Solace itself, there’s no question that Olga Kurylenko’s role as Camille is one of the factors that still holds up across the board, over a decade after it was first shown to audiences worldwide. A fact that we can all partially thank to the fear of death literally being struck into her being on set, and all of the adrenaline-filled action that came after.
You can see Olga Kurylenko in the Shudder original film The Room, which is streaming on Shudder and also available to rent or own on Digital HD and DVD. If you’re curious to see Quantum of Solace again, or for the first time, you can stream that film on HBO Max until August 1. After which point, you’ll have to wait for it to hit Netflix and Hulu’s streaming libraries on August 31; along with its direct predecessor, Casino Royale.