To Enjoy the full feature, become a member of BLAG

How Moving Across The World Created A New Life for Sofia Boutella

Sally A. Edwards chats with "Atomic Blonde" and "Climax" star, Sofia Boutella about upbringings, moving across the world and intuition.

How Moving Across The World Created A New Life for Sofia Boutella
Interview by Sally A. Edwards

It's all about timing. As a child I was always told, "All in good time." "Give it time." Powerful statements that are likely growing in importance with how fast paced our world has become. These quotes relate remarkably well to Sofia Boutella's story so far.

Sofia danced with award winning confidence and has been seen by millions around the globe having toured for many years with Madonna. However, she first started out as an actor and dancer, multitasking with both for two years before putting a hold on the acting. At 30, Sofia stopped dancing and decided to return to film. It took two years, a lot of training, study, auditioning and copious amounts of patience.

Then, she landed a handful of very big budget, very edgy roles far from her beginnings in Algeria and even her life in Paris. The initial roles required hours of make-up and a lot for Sofia to get her teeth into character-wise. Offers then snowballed with parts opposite Charlize Theron and James McAvoy in Atomic Blonde, Jodie Foster in Hotel Artemis and the remake of Fahrenheit 451 with Michael Shannon and Michael B. Jordan. Talk about all in good time. ​Now Sofia can be seen in Gaspar Noé's, Climax, a music and danced fuelled horror.

We got together to discuss everything from Sofia's upbringing, big moves, creativity, our unexpected mentors and music. Finding inspiration, moods and the ukulele.

I know you were born in Algeria and then moved to Paris, then LA. At what ages did you make the moves?
"I moved to Paris with my Mum when I was 10 years old. Then I moved to LA on my own when I was 24."

How do you find all the differences between each place?
"It was very different in Algeria when I was little, first of all there was a civil war. It was not a safe place at the time and it was not a place where you would get a lot of [things]. You know, as a kid it was not a place that was accessible, there wasn't a lot of toys, not a lot of candy like there was in France and a lot of things for kids really that were accessible. There was a curfew at 6pm, there was water through the faucets only once a week for an hour and that was different, but as a kid you don't really realise that was what was happening. Then I moved to France and there were all these things, like supermarkets and stores and shops and it was candy for the eyes, you know? So that was very different and I had a hard time adjusting with the kids. I was never the popular kid because I always had the same pair of shoes and my clothes weren't cool."

Oh, I know that! [Laughs]
"[Laughs] So I had to adapt. It was a culture shock. You know, then LA is another culture shock, but I was already moulded to know how to adapt like a chameleon. So I think when you have to [do that] at such a young age, you can adapt to anything after in life in general. I found that by myself, I feel like I don't see changes or differences in culture in countries as a barrier or as an obstacle. On the contrary I embrace it and I like to discover all the different eclectic cultures and styles."

Do you think you go out and dig for more because of your experiences when you were younger? I find that because Sarah probably told you our background didn't she, that we started working when we were really young. We started BLAG when we were really young; far too young!
"Yeah, she did. It's a pretty fascinating story. What's the question? Sorry."
Do you think you're more hungry and you hunt more for things because you didn't have that when you were growing up, because now the world's kind of opened out to you?
"I'm not entirely sure why I thrive so much, or why I have something that's pushing me from my back towards anything that I'm doing in my life and anything that I get involved with without really understanding why. It seems to be stronger than me in the sense that I have no power over it. It's kind of controlling where I go, what I do and how I do things. It generally comes from my heart, it seems to be something that's bigger than me and I don't say it from an arrogant place at all. On the contrary, I'm just following what I feel that I need to do and that seems right for me."

The story was first published on, London, Spring 2019

Become a member to continue reading this feature and all of BLAG's fun and uplifting iconic content including interviews, online exhibitions and Originals.

Enjoying BLAG?
Tip / Support us