Former Madonna Dancer Sofia Boutella Takes the Lead in Netflix’s ‘Rebel Moon’

Former Madonna Dancer Sofia Boutella Takes the Lead in Netflix’s ‘Rebel Moon’ : Sofia Boutella has showcased her talent on various movie screens.
At 41, Boutella transformed into Jaylah in the 2016 film “Star Trek Beyond” and portrayed the mummified Princess Ahmanet in 2017’s “The Mummy,” a role that notably featured a memorable face-off with Tom Cruise. This Algerian actress and dancer met her demise as an acrobatic assassin in 2014’s “Kingsmen: The Secret Service” and portrayed a French agent in 2017’s “Atomic Blonde.”
Now, in Netflix’s “Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire,” premiering Thursday at 10 p.m. EST/7 PST, and its subsequent installment “Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver,” set for release on April 19, Boutella takes center stage in Zack Snyder’s expansive sci-fi cinematic universe.”

Former Madonna Dancer Sofia Boutella Takes the Lead in Netflix's 'Rebel Moon'

This marks my debut in a leading role, and the experience is both thrilling and daunting,” Boutella shared during an interview at the Four Seasons Hotel. Standing at 5-foot-5, the actress expressed her concerns about embodying Kora’s striking cloak, stating, “I questioned whether I’d be overshadowed by it. The challenge was ensuring the cape complemented me rather than defining me. It felt like a significant responsibility.”
Here’s the journey Boutella undertook to conquer her role in “Rebel Moon”:

“Origins of ‘Rebel Moon’ Star Sofia Boutella”

Following her initial auditions, Boutella penned a heartfelt letter to Snyder, expressing her deep resonance with the character Kora. As hinted by the title “Child of Fire,” a youthful Kora gets abducted from her homeland by the formidable Imperium army, later finding refuge on the agricultural planet of Veldt.
Similarly, when Boutella was just 10 years old, her family had to escape from Algeria due to the turmoil of the Algerian Civil War, eventually relocating to France. Though the contexts differ, the emotional weight remains strikingly parallel.

“When you’re displaced at a tender age, particularly due to political upheavals, that feeling of truly belonging somewhere fades,” Boutella reflects. “Kora embodies this sense of being an outsider, a sentiment I’ve personally experienced throughout my life.”

“Sofia Boutella’s Action Skills Enhanced by Touring with Madonna”

Boutella’s prowess in movement is deeply rooted. Starting classical dance lessons at just 5 years old, she later embraced hip-hop and street dance styles in France, even representing the country in rhythmic gymnastics by age 18.

Prior to making her mark in films, Boutella showcased her talent as a dancer in Michael Jackson’s 2011 “Hollywood Tonight” music video and graced the stage as a backup dancer for Madonna for a decade, including the 2006 Confessions tour. Boutella attributes much of her dance artistry and growth to Madonna, recognizing the pop icon’s influence in refining her theatrical dance abilities.

“Madonna not only introduced me to the world of hula hooping but also arranged for a professional instructor to teach me the ropes. Activities like Double Dutch jump roping and roller skating were entirely new experiences for me,” Boutella recalls. “Being compensated to explore these newfound passions was incredible. Such learning experiences have significantly equipped me for my current role.”
Maintaining a close bond, Boutella recently attended Madonna’s Celebration tour in London alongside her “Rebel Moon” co-star, Charlie Hunnam. However, due to packed schedules, they didn’t get the opportunity to spend leisurely time together.

“Madonna’s tour schedule is quite structured, and given our work commitments, we were occupied. However,” Boutella shares about Hunnam’s surprise appearance during Madonna’s concert, “I did encourage Charlie to join her onstage for a moment. He thoroughly enjoyed it, and we both had a fantastic time.”

“From ‘The Mummy’ with Tom Cruise to ‘Rebel Moon,’ Sofia Boutella Dominates the Action Scene”

The actress has engaged in intricate combat sequences alongside top-tier talents, prominently featuring her work with “The Mummy” lead, Cruise. “Tom taught me invaluable lessons,” Boutella acknowledges. “The deeper I delved, the more I recognized the vastness of my learning curve.”

In “Rebel Moon,” action takes center stage as Kora ignites a burgeoning resistance against the Imperium, rallying formidable allies such as Nemesis (Bae Doona), General Titus (Djimon Hounsou), and the renegade pilot Kai (Hunnam). Snyder commends Boutella’s background in stunts and dance, emphasizing how it enriched the film’s action sequences, with intricate choreography seamlessly woven into complex maneuvers.
Preparing for her role, Boutella commenced training with the stunt crew weeks prior to the extensive 153-day “Rebel Moon” filming schedule. Notably, she had a mere two-hour window to refine intricate choreography for a crucial barn skirmish, which even encompassed crafting Kora’s impressive axe-twirling technique.

“I executed the maneuver, and the feedback was immediate: ‘That was impressive; let’s incorporate it,'” Boutella shares. “In those tight timeframes, my dance background truly shines. I excel at picking things up quickly, particularly when the stakes are high.”

While the primary actress did employ a stunt double for specific tasks, such as executing a challenging fall (“I’m unfamiliar with that technique”) and a particular rope-grabbing maneuver from a ledge (“It was too intricate for me to master”), Snyder emphasizes that Boutella remains the linchpin for both “Rebel Moon” films already in the can. The character Kora, spotlighted as the “Scargiver” in the sequel’s title, serves as this anchor. Although potential future sequels are on the horizon, Netflix hasn’t given them the official green light.
Audiences can anticipate heightened intensity in Kora’s combat scenes with a director’s cut of “Rebel Moon” slated for a summer release. This extended version will tack on an additional hour to the initial 2-hour and 15-minute runtime of the first installment.

“It’s designed with an R-rating, so expect a more intense experience,” Boutella comments.
Boutella seamlessly embraced the cape, fitting for a character described as “the universe’s most sought-after fugitive.”
During a scene where Kora confidently disembarks from Kai’s spacecraft, Boutella felt invigorated observing the slow-motion footage on set. Inspired, she elevated her approach with the cape.

“The subsequent take, I elegantly draped the cape, secured it, and continued my stride,” Boutella recounts.
Snyder strategically concludes the “Rebel Moon” trailer with this captivating cape moment.
“I recognized the cape’s essence in that scene, especially when viewed in slow motion,” Boutella reflects, shedding any initial reservations. “Instead of merely treating it as a prop, I aimed to infuse vitality into the cape.”

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