Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko Discuss OBLIVION and Tom Cruise
By Evy Baehr, Associate Editor
OBLIVION stars Tom Cruise as Jack Harper, who works as a technician to protect humankind from aliens. OBLIVION is a Tom Cruise movie with a lot of action but will also get viewers thinking. Movieguide® had the opportunity to hear from Morgan Freeman and Olga Kurylenko on their roles in OBLIVION.
On Working with Tom Cruise
Question: Do you two work similarly or differently?
Morgan: No, no, no. Everybody works the same. As you mentioned, preparation very often can be different, but you cannot work differently. You have to say the words that are written on the page. You have to make your mark. That’s the work.
Olga: Tom is fascinating. I don’t know what that man doesn’t know how to do. He flies a plane, helicopter. It’s very inspiring to work with a man like that, but don’t try to outshine him in the action scenes. I think there was a stunt guy that tried to compete running with Tom Cruise, and Tom Cruise was faster than him. Stunt guys are tough, the strongest, the fastest that I’ve ever seen, and Tom Cruise is still stronger and faster. He is one of a kind.
Question: Creatively, how is it working with him?
Olga: Very interestingly creatively. That was a very unexpected thing to see how much he gives. He is of course a big star and is a wonderful actor. Only his partners and the other actors know how much he gives to the others. He is such a generous partner, and that is not always the case. I have never seen him sit in his trailer. He will always be there. If the camera was on me, even if he was far away, in my eye line, he would prefer to be there. He would never leave the set. Even if I told him ‘seriously, I don’t need you.’ Because he is involved 100 percent. Very supportive of course. He is not just an actor who is there and has no idea, he actually technically knows how things work, and you feel safe with him.
On Hollywood and Being an Actor
Morgan Freeman: I enjoy every single day. I am born to do this to. I really do. I enjoyed every single day. It’s not like I have to get up every single morning Monday through Friday and go to a job. You do a movie however long it lasts. It begins and it ends in a relatively short period of time. In a given period of time, let’s say a year, you can have three, four, five different experiences. Just kind of exciting.
Olga: Hollywood always represents this big dream and fairy tale land. To me, it’s just hard work. Of course, we play fairy tale on the red carpet, and it’s all Cinderella, but you know when the clock strikes midnight everything turns. . . I turn into a gray mouse, I go home, and I take my costume off… and it’s over. That’s Hollywood.
Morgan Freeman: I was watching Jack Parr. The TONIGHT SHOW host before Johnny Carson. One night one of my movie heroes, Humphrey Bogart was the guest. Humphrey was asked a similar question about pictures and autographs. Bogart said, ‘I don’t owe the public anything but a good performance’ and I tried to take that to heart, but not quite so. Somebody once told me, ‘No, no you belong to us. You’re in the public, so you can’t quite get away from it.’ I don’t do autographs. They’re a waste of time, but photographs stay, touching someone’s hand, hugging a beautiful lady, all of that works out very well. So my own, I wanted to adopt Homphrey Bogart’s dictum, but it doesn’t work for me. I think I owe the public a little more then just a good performance, I owe them just a little bit of time.
Question: What was about OBLIVION that you really wanted to do?
Morgan Freeman: Tom Cruise. It’s a Tom Cruise movie, so if I was going to be a truck driver hauling supplies I would have taken the job. I am one of his hugest fans, have been for I don’t know how many years. Way way way back. I know at this point I’m not going to be offered a minor role. If you compare the script to the movie, they don’t compare, but I was excited about the script. The movie was so much more than what you can read on a page, you know, but it is a big draw. Big science fiction film with Tom Cruise. Hard to go wrong.
Olga: The fact that there was this mystery to Julia and that I couldn’t reveal everything right away, from the very first appearance of her on screen. The fact that she had to unravel her story during the whole film.
Question: For Olga, what’s the difference between Terrence Malick (director of TO THE WONDER) and Joseph Kosinski (the director of OBLIVION)?
Olga: Very different, couldn’t be further apart from each other. In Malick’s film there was no script. Here the script was very detailed, very precise. The way Malick worked with us, he never rehearsed. He was actually against rehearsal. In OBLIVION, we rehearsed many scenes and especially all those technical scenes because you have to do so, you can’t just step on set and improvise. Things will go wrong when you are working with all this machinery. It has to be very well rehearsed and prepared. Malick just throws actors into the story, but there is a backstory. Again, lots of conversations. So the way I built my character was by talking with Terrence all the time. We just spoke spoke and spoke. I had a little homework to do before I started the movie. I had to read three Russian novels. “Anna Karenina,” “The Idiot,” and “The Brothers Karamazov.” After that, I didn’t really need to read a script, and we just spoke. It was just discussions about what I drew from the books. That’s how the character was born, [it] was a mixture.