When The Mummy opens on June 9th it will usher in the first installment of Universal’s attempt to create the “Dark Universe,” designed to bring together its classic horror monsters. It’s also the latest example of actress Sofia Boutella’s ascent in Hollywood.
In the film she portrays the Egyptian princess Ahmanet, who centuries ago had been raised to be a fearless warrior and heir to her father’s throne. Her destiny was to become the first female pharaoh, but she was all but forgotten when her father sired a son. Notes the official description, “Driven mad by betrayal, she was entombed for eternity by the very people who swore loyalty to her. Her fate? Erasure from history.”
In the present, she is inadvertently awoken by Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton, a soldier of fortune, and now, endowed with supernatural abilities, sets out to reclaim her stolen kingdom.
To fill the role of Ahmanet, filmmakers turned their attention to Boutella. Says director Alex Kurtzman, “What we are trying to create here is a texture and tone rooted in the Universal horror classic, while having one foot in the modern age. This serves as a nod to these classics, while also bringing these monsters to life in a whole new era for a global audience.”
“We knew that, in order to work, this film has to be scary,” he adds. “Very scary. Yet, we still want to be able to recognize that there is a human being inside these monsters, and empathize with them. One of the things that’s so important about the monsters is that we find a way to love them while we fear them.”
The solution came in the form of Sofia, who was actually involved with the film prior to Cruise. Explains Kurtzman, “I saw Sofia in Kingsman: The Secret Service, and then I stalked her until she said, ‘yes’ to this movie. She brings a real humanity to the princess, and audiences will feel for her. Even when she is doing horrifying things, you always feel that it is being done by someone who’s not that far from us...and who’s just crossed a line that maybe we wouldn’t.”
What follows is a look at highlights from Sofia’s career and the roles that have captured the imagination of filmgoers.
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In looking at the character, she comments, “It would be too easy to just make it obvious that she’s just mean or hateable, and I liked that Alex never wanted to ‘monsterize’ Ahmanet. Even though she’s technically a monster, it was important for all of us to find the psychology of her character and understand why she did what she did in that time to survive. You begin to feel for her. I don’t see her as a monster; she’s a survivor.”
“Remember, Ahmanet came to this modern time with old habits from an ancient Egypt,” she elaborates. “She’s a princess who was promised to become pharaoh and worked very hard in her era. When Alex, Tom and I discussed the character, I often said, ‘I’m not going to go with the obvious.’ I absolutely loved being on set with them and their notes. Everywhere you can expect the scene to go, we would stretch it and bring completely the opposite. We would take dialogue that would make you think Ahmanet is aggressive or manipulative and change the way it was delivered. We discussed that she wanted to be respected for how hard she worked to earn her father’s respect. We also wanted to honor what she was about to become…and that it was taken away from her. Her back was put up against a wall, but she’s a survivor who has been trapped for 5,000 years. Everyone wants to live.”
Image via YouTube