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Apart from the much-buzzed-about action sequences, one of the highlights of this summer’s ’80s punk spy thriller, Atomic Blonde, is the steamy love affair Charlize Theron’s British spy, Lorraine Broughton, has with French agent Sandrine, played with mysterious allure by Kingsman standout (and upcoming Mummy) Sofia Boutella. The tryst isn’t in the graphic novel the film is based on, Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s The Coldest City — rather, it was created by the film’s screenwriter, Kurt Johnstad (300), who conceived of it sitting in Theron’s office during one of the many development meetings the star had with Johnstad and Theron’s producing partner, Beth Kono.
“I remember sitting in a room one day thinking about how do you make this different from other spy movies,” Theron says. “It’s really hard. Who is going to be the love interest? Kurt, who’s a punk rock writer, suggested she falls in love with a woman.”
The idea thrilled Theron and Kono, who appreciated the idea, both for its unpredictability and for the statement it makes.
“It’s unexpected. It’s refreshing. Everybody says you can’t do that — which is such bullsh–,” Theron says. “Why is it that James Bond can sleep with every girl in every movie and nobody says, ‘Wow, he’s not in love with them?’ Am I the only person who — long, long ago before I had children — had a one-night stand with somebody from a club? Nobody else has done that before?”
But director David Leitch says the visually stunning sex scenes weren’t for shock value, but rather to illustrate the sacrifices Lorraine has made for her profession. “It wasn’t about being provocative,” he says. “It was more about if you are a spy you will do whatever it takes to get information. Everything is about survival and getting the mission done. And when you are a character like Lorraine, she will find her intimacies and her friendships in small doses, with anyone she can. Those moments of real [connection] are so few and far between; she even questions whether or not they are real. You sort of find comfort where you get it.”
Atomic Blonde opens nationwide on July 28.