With Hotel Artemis opening in theaters this weekend, I recently sat down with Sofia Boutella for an interview. During the wide-ranging conversation, she talked about getting to work with writer-director Drew Pearce, why she wanted to be part of the film, how excited she was to work with Jodie Foster and Jeff Goldblum, the action scenes, and more. In addition, she talked about making Gaspar Noé’s Climax and the positive reaction at Cannes, if she knows what’s up with future Star Trek movies and a lot more.
If you’re not familiar with Hotel Artemis, the film takes place in a near-future Los Angeles and revolves around a secret members-only hospital that caters to criminals. Run by The Nurse (Jodie Foster), the hospital has various rules (including no weapons and no murdering other patients) that are put into question when an object of great value enters its gates. The film also stars Sterling K. Brown as “Waikiki,” Dave Bautista as “Everest,” Sofia Boutella as “Nice,” Jeff Goldblum as “The Wolf King/Niagara,” Brian Tyree Henry as “Honolulu,” Jenny Slate as “Morgan,” Zachary Quinto as “Crosby,” and Charlie Day as “Acapulco.” Hotel Artemis arrives in U.S. theaters on June 8th.
Check out what Sofia Boutella had to say below.
Collider: How’re you doing today?
BOUTELLA: Good. You know, the day after the premiere.
(laughs). Yeah, so you guys showed it last night?
You did press all day, then you showed the movie, and now you’re back here today doing press all day.
BOUTELLA: Yeah. (laughs). You know the drill. As you know, you know, it’s my first premiere in LA. So, I invited a lot of friends, and that consisted of a lot of chatting and a lot of catching up because I don’t spend a lot of time here. It was just lovely to have people over and to do that kind of work and have friends around.
Yeah. Also, the movie was shot in LA.
BOUTELLA: The movie was shot in LA. What a fucking chance! (laughs). You know, for Drew to have his first movie about a love letter to LA and being able to shoot in LA, in downtown LA. Not just LA, but downtown LA.
Completely. You’ve done a lot of roles where you’re wearing makeup. When you meet with Drew about this movie was your first question, “Am I wearing makeup?”
BOUTELLA: No, luckily I had read the script and then we talked and I saw in the script it was no makeup, which I loved. Then, we talked and he described it to me. Everything was on the page. I kept saying yesterday, the writing is so incredible. He envisioned the hotel, the hospital, and the whole world was exactly on the page and when I stepped on set- his vision was completely translated. He was extremely specific with his idea of what he wanted and that’s what I think everybody fell in love with, the original world. It’s so refreshing to read something like that.
Completely. Also, what’s interesting about it is that it’s noir and futuristic. Can you talk a little bit about the world because it takes place in 2028. It has 3D printing for medical stuff, it has futuristic stuff, but it’s also still retro.
BOUTELLA: Yeah, it is. It’s sort of a potluck of all the stuff. All the genres that he loves. He’s such a film gore. He loves different kinds of movies and he has specific references, and that’s his mish mash of all these films.
It’s also his first time directing a feature. Did you ever feel on set that it was his first time?
BOUTELLA: Honestly, he had everything under control. It was the most peaceful set I’ve ever been on. There wasn’t one day that I arrived- there’s no chaos. We shot quite fast, which I wasn’t used to, also for a feature. Everybody kept saying we shot like TV because we only had 31 or 32 days of filming, which is insane. Drew is in such a good mood at all time, and not faking it. I just think he was well prepared, and even if he was nervous he didn’t put any stress on us for sure. He came from a genuine place of past sion and serenity with everything. He was so grateful to have everything he had, and he was also so helpful for us.
The other thing is, which I was surprised to realize, was this is Jodie’s first movie in like 5 years.
BOUTELLA: Yeah, right! What was her last film?
I realized this and I was like, Wow! When I was watching her on screen I was like, “I haven’t seen her on screen in a little bit.” What was it like working with her and the rest of the cast? He put together a great cast for this.
BOUTELLA: Yeah, he did. They keep coming, huh? The movie, it’s incredible. I used to watch Jodie Foster in French television when I was a kid. I remember my mom telling me, “Look at how well she speaks French,” and me thinking, “She’s not French?” When I was super young, not knowing yet who she was, I think I was 10 years old. I still remember because she is incredible. She has zero accent. You rarely hear foreigners speaking French without an accent. I’ve always followed her after that. I remember watching her in The Accused and what an incredible performance. That’s aside from playing Clarice in Silence of the Lambs, and all the movies that we know her from. I just thought, what an honor to be on screen with her. I was nervous at first, but she’s very selfless and easy to work with, and lovely and gentle. Acting with her and seeing her on the big screen what she does is incredible. She’s such a phenomenal actress, widely intelligent, and I feel very privileged to be on the screen with her.
She’s also a director.
BOUTELLA: She’s also a director, yeah.
You had some great dialogue moments, and you also got to kick some ass. Do you prefer one or the other? The dialogue moments or the ass kicking?
BOUTELLA: The ass kicking is what I’ve done the most to be honest (laughs). I enjoy that very much. I find the dialogue more challenging because English not being my first language is still something that I’m learning; it’s still something that I am challenging. For me, it’s my soft spot in the sense that it’s still something that I feel like I have so much to learn, and keep learning no matter what. My fight scene, I keep learning about that but it’s not- the dialogue scenes are the scenes I’m having the most fun with at the moment because I have everything to learn.
Memorable moments from filming Hotel Artemis. What’s the day or two you will always remember?
BOUTELLA: That fight scene. That fight scene was truly incredible. It was intense. That one day was hard and it was nonstop all day, and I did everything. The stunt double only did one movement, which was a front flip, with another stunt guy. The only reason why they did it was because insurance wouldn’t allow it. I did every single shot of it. It was draining and we did it in sequence because I wanted to take hits, there was blood and continuity issues with that. We kept doing the beginning a few times and the rest of it but it was a lot of fun. That was quite something for me.
Then, being on set with Jeff Goldblum was pretty incredible. The first time I went to the movies here it was to see Jurassic Park. I love when he acts because his gesture is very lavish. He acts with his hands and I couldn’t wait to hear him talk and act with him. The one scene I had with him his hands were tied up (laughs). Then he made me sing Mona Lisa by Nat King Cole on set because he’s a jazz musician, and he sings. So that was a lot of fun and my first day on set with Jodie was pretty incredible.