Mum said I must grab luck when it comes, says Bond girl Olga Kurylenko
Olga Kurylenko, who proved more than a match for Daniel Craig as cool killer Camille in 'Quantum Of Solace', has spoken about a remarkable upbringing with her mum.
"My mum Marina and I were poor and hungry. We could sometimes not afford to eat - seriously," the Sun quoted her as saying.
"We lived together in a small town, called Berdyansk, in Ukraine. I was an only child. I don't think we would have survived if there had been more kids.
"My mum made our own clothes and sewed winter coats. She even cut back one of her own to make mine warm.
"I did not have a father. It was my mum who chose to be alone. She felt that she would be better off by herself with me after I was born.
"But, despite her being a teacher and always working, we were very poor. We never travelled, did not have a holiday and I knew only my local town. My mum had saved money so we could go and visit Moscow. And on that one visit, when I was 14, my life changed forever. I was stopped by a model scout who wanted me to work for an agency. My mum, who was with me, was unbelieving.
"I saw movies and read books about how these things could happen and did not believe it. My mum and I were both asking: 'Is this a fairytale?'
"I went back home to school again. Mum said: 'Let us think what this is all about. We will have to meet the people from the agency.'
"A month later, we went back for a meeting. They were mostly women. My mum realised this was not a hoax, but the real thing.
"She told me: "This is the kind of luck that comes your way only once. Do not turn your back on this."
"I had a few photographic tests and started travelling between my town and the agency for work.
"It was a 26-hour train journey. I would leave around 7am and get to Moscow at around 1pm the following day. I would sleep on the train. It was worth it. I was excited to earn my first 30 US dollars - as much as my mum earned in a whole month.
"I did this for one year - long train journeys to Moscow and back - and spent the rest of the time at school.
"While I was in Moscow, I met another scout. This one told me he was looking for a model in Paris. He took photographs and I thought: "France? I will check what Mum says." When I returned home, she said: "Paris is a dream city. You must go for it."
"I was just 16. The agency arranged a visa, bought my tickets and advanced me money. The way the system operates is that you pay back their advance by working.
"At the start they put me with other girls in an apartment. But I could not stand it. So I chose loneliness and moved to a little studio on my own and worked hard to pay back the bills. It was exciting, but lonely. That does not mean I was sad. I read a lot, learned French and studied every night.
"I started to make friends but always seemed to be working. They would say: "Get a life. I'd never had a boyfriend. I was not a teenager who liked boys.
"I had my first boyfriend in Paris and married him (the French fashion photographer Cedric van Mol). Most of all, I wanted to make my mum proud of me. She stayed back home while I tried to improve myself.
"It was suggested that I appear in a film and my first movie was in 2004. My model agency wanted me to carry on modelling and I was successful but no Kate Moss. I wanted to become a full-time actress instead.
"When I was hired for Bond, I could not believe it. I returned to my home town while promoting the film. It was my proudest moment to go back and see my mum. She taught me all about luck. A lot of people have luck but they allow the moment to escape.
"You have to grab it and know when it comes," she added.