This is one anecdote that falls firmly outside the box of "tales to tell your grandkids someday over dinner." Sofia Boutella, who brings the Egyptian goddess Amunet to life in Universal's universe-launching reincarnation of The Mummy, has been talking about the moment her tongue met Tom Cruise's face... a whole eight times.
But don't worry, it was all in the name of feminism. No — seriously. Here's what Boutella had to say to USA Today about the deep psychological reasoning behind why Princess Ahmanet gives Nick Morton (Cruise) a full-on face licking in the film, which hits theaters Friday:
"[Director Alex Kurtzman] suggested that Boutella give Cruise a power lick during their battle. Boutella and Cruise stifled giggles when cameras rolled, and it worked.
'It’s destabilizing. It comes out of nowhere,' says Boutella. 'That’s how Ahmanet treats things. She owns stuff. She owns people. We did it maybe eight times, all on his cheek. And I’d try to drag it as long as possible'."
Hopefully there was no sticky scientology residue.
In all seriousness, it'll be interesting to see if the intended feminist undertones of the big lick moment actually translate in a cinema setting. It could easily just draw big, unintended laughs, like that deeply disturbing scene in Alien: Covenant.
It's not the first time this week that the feminism of the monster-populated Dark Universe has been brought up as a selling tool — a Bride of Frankenstein movie is on the way, and Kurtzman says the character could be "subverted" in Bill Condon's movie in a way that shifts the focus from Frankenstein to his bride. In the classic 1935 movie, his creation only appears in the final act.
That could be smart, but only if Condon avoids making his Bride a full-on CGI-fest, which looks like it could be the undoing of The Mummy's intricate bandages. If there's a smart new feminist take on the story, it can't be hidden under a boring, apocalyptic avalanche of special effects. Here's hoping it's actually brought to the surface.
Sofia Boutella may be on her ninth life by now, but Universal's Dark Universe will probably only have one chance to connect with an audience who are beginning to tire of blockbuster franchises — here's hoping Ahmanet has been using her licks wisely.
Are you stoked for The Mummy, or is the Dark Universe already clouded in bad omens?
(Source: USA Today)