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'Settlers' made Sofia Boutella 'question my morals'

Sofia Boutella stars in the sci-fi drama Settlers. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Sofia Boutella stars in the sci-fi drama "Settlers." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, July 23 (UPI) -- Sofia Boutella, star of the sci-fi film Settlers that's in theaters and on video-on-demand Friday, said the film was provocative on and off the set. Boutella plays the mother of a girl in a remote colony on Mars.

"This one has such a human and epic scope," Boutella told UPI in a Zoom interview. "Working on this project in particular had to make me question my morals."

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Ilsa (Boutella), Reza (Jonny Lee Miller) and their daughter, Remmy (Brooklynn Prince), have left an uninhabitable Earth in the future. Boutella said the theme of climate change on Earth makes Settlers relevant.

"The ecological backdrop that Earth had to face is very present," Boutella said. "Everything that happens in this film are things that you can relate to and understand, even though it's sci-fi and takes place on Mars."

Settlers also shows how different generations react to crises, Boutella said. Ilsa and Reza have memories of Earth, but Remmy only knows Mars.

"She does not want Remmy to fully realize what life was like on Earth," Boutella said. "Even if they probably left Earth in a very poor state, the beauty that Earth once had is not at all what Remmy would ever see."

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To simulate the landscape of Mars, Settlers filmed in the Northern Cape in South Africa. Boutella said the remote location, with its extreme heat and cold, made her feel as though Mars would be equally inhospitable.

"It was very remote, and the pace was, also, even if we were filming, quite eerie, calm and tame," Boutella said.

Boutella said she is eager to become involved with environmental causes outside of her film work. She is exploring charities and hopes to choose one to which she can devote her time.

"I think being specific with one charity company is very important and not being all over the place," Bobutella said. "It's our home. It's a beautiful place we have and we're lucky to have it."

The 39-year-old Boutella had been a professional dancer since age 14. She began acting in films via dance movies like Dance Challenge and StreetDance 2.

A role in 2014's Kingsman: The Secret Service began a rapid succession of Hollywood movies that included Atomic Blonde, Star Trek Beyond and The Mummy.

"I felt like the characters were very specific and interesting to develop and work with," Boutella said. "I was also, at the same time, very much learning about this profession [after] having been a dancer for such a long time."

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Since The Mummy, Boutella has appeared in smaller releases, such as Gaspar Noe's French dance movie Climax, and the IFC Films release Settlers. Boutella said she is applying what she learned on Hollywood studio movies to these films.

"As an audience [member], I love independent movies and slower paced movies," Boutella said.

She said she stopped dancing professionally when she was 29. However, she has not ruled out returning to dance.

"I'll always be a dancer," Boutella said. "I don't do it as much. Retiring is one way to put it, probably. Maybe I'll come back to it and it'll be wonderful."

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