The toughest days on The Mummy set for Sofia Boutella involved hanging out with Tom Cruise. To shoot an epic fight sequence for the movie (out June 9), the French-Algerian actress was suspended from wires for several days alongside the Hollywood icon, who famously does his own stunts.
“I’ve never done wirework with impact, where you’re constantly hitting the ground and walls,” says Boutella, who plays the film’s titular undead fiend. “It was challenging.”
Boutella is no stranger to rigorous physical activity. Before acting, she worked as a backup dancer for the likes of Rihanna and Madonna. The Mummy was a different beast. “For the first time, every muscle in my body was sore,” she says. “The next day, I felt like a stone. Tom and I were laughing about it.”
After playing an extraterrestrial in last year’s Star Trek Beyond, Boutella thought she’d be prepared for her effects-laden role as the power-thirsty Ahmanet. She was wrong. The part required makeup to be applied to her entire body for up to six hours a day. “That process became my ritual to get into character,” she says.
The Mummy gig did come with a special perk: an aerial tour by “Maverick” himself. “When we had downtime in Namibia, Tom took us on a helicopter ride over one of the oldest deserts in the world. Whether you looked to your left or right, there was this ocean of sand. It was so eerie and strange.”
Boutella’s next role will be more down-to-earth. She’s playing a French spy seduced by Charlize Theron’s character in the espionage flick Atomic Blonde (July 28).
“I wasn’t able to hide behind any makeup,” she says. “That’s what I wanted. I don’t want to be one-dimensional.”