Olga Kurylenko and Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner.
Olga Kurylenko and Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner. Mark Rogers

Russell Crowe’s divine direction of The Water Diviner

BOND girl Olga Kurylenko learned all about the Anzac spirit from Russell Crowe. The French/Ukrainian beauty stars opposite Crowe in his directorial debut The Water Diviner.

The drama follows grieving Australian father Joshua Connor (Crowe), who travels to Turkey several years after the events at Gallipoli to discover what happened to this three sons, presumed dead in the ill-fated assault.

"I'd heard of the event but to be honest, I didn't know the details," Kurylenko told APN.

"I watched all kinds of documentaries and searched on YouTube and I discovered a lot. What I didn't know was that this battle was where Australians lost the most of their people in their whole history. That's a very big thing for Australians and New Zealanders. It explains why it was so important for Russell to direct this film on this subject."

The 35-year-old, who has starred opposite Daniel Craig, Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck and Pierce Brosnan, said she felt in safe hands with Crowe behind the camera.

"It's important to feel your director behind you," she said.

"He thought I was the right character for some reason, and that trust in me carried me through the whole movie.

"For someone who has never directed before, you expect there to be glitches or certain delays or moments where he wouldn't know what to do, but it never happened. It was like he's done it his whole life. Somehow directing came really easy to him. It was probably the most non-problematic filming I've ever had. That's rare."

Director Russell Crowe and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie on the set of The Water Diviner.
Director Russell Crowe and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie on the set of The Water Diviner. Mark Rogers

Kurylenko plays Ayshe, the manager of Connor's Istanbul hotel, whose husband is presumed dead in the war. The widowed mother is being pressured to remarry by her late husband's family.

As part of her research for the film, Kurylenko travelled to Turkey to meet a modern-day widow who chose to go against the traditional social custom of remarriage.

"It's still expected for a woman to remarry and marry a member of her husband's family if he's not around anymore. Women are pressured sometimes, and it looks bad if they don't agree," she said.

"She chose to fight and explained to me her reasons, which were for her kids. She thought the children would be happier the way they are, and of course she wanted to be independent.

"I thought it was quite surprising that she wanted to go against the whole system. She had two children and she probably could have had an easier life if she went with a man, but I think she wanted love, the real thing. She didn't want to choose the easy way out.

"She struck me as a very strong woman… she was remarkable and she helped me to build my character."

While the film focuses on Connor's efforts to solve the mystery of his three long-lost sons, he shares some rare moments of happiness with Ayshe and her son Orhan.

"Orhan's such an important part to the whole puzzle," she said.

"He's the key to the relationship between Ayshe and Connor. For my character, it's about the happiness of her son, and she basically lives in the way that will make him happy. He comes first and she comes second."

The Water Diviner is in cinemas now.