How 'Blade Runner 2049' Star Sylvia Hoeks Used Taylor Swift To Become An Unforgettable Movie Villain

Share
Ad failed to load

From the moment Sylvia Hoeks' replicant Luv struts onto the screen in Blade Runner 2049, you know you've never seen anyone like her before. With fierce brown bangs, a (literally) killer glare, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to make her master proud, Luv is one of the most memorable on-screen villains in recent years. And calm and collected — except when she's beating people up — she's the perfect Big Bad for 2049's futuristic dystopia, a world where even the most powerful people aren't really in control of their own fates. Yet according to Hoecks, the inspiration for Luv actually came from something not in the far-off future, but from the paparazzi-filled universe we know now.

"I looked at big celebrities, big singers, who are younger girls, like Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez," the actor explains, relaxing on the couch during a visit to Bustle's New York City studio after the film's widescreen release in October. "[These people] who have big platforms and have to have certain control in their life, because every little second of their day is probably somebody making a picture of them or putting them in the media. So their whole life kind of happens virtually."

Ashley Batz/Bustle
Ad failed to load

The day-to-day ongoings of Swift and Gomez might not be the stuff of sci-fi dystopia (well, probably not), but it's not hard to see where she's coming from; just like the biggest superstars on the planet, Blade Runner's Luv is constantly under the surveillance of Niander Wallace, her creator and father figure, even as she yearns for more control over her own fate and humanity. The fact that all this can be gleaned from the character's too-few scenes in the film is a testament to Hoecks' presence on-screen. Blade Runner 2049 may be the 34-year-old actor's first major Hollywood film, but she's no newcomer (in 2007, she won the Dutch equivalent of an Oscar), and her work as Luv is the kind of magnetic, all-encompassing performance viewers will remember long after leaving the theater.

In the time since 2049's release, reactions to the film have been nearly unanimously positive, with Hoeks' turn as the replicant being labeled, rightfully, a stand-out. When talking about the movie and her character, the actor grins widely; she recalls with a huge laugh how she "screamed through the whole office" when she heard she got the part, so "over the moon" was she with joy. Like audiences, Hoeks is, for lack of a better word, in love with Luv, obsessed with the character she and director Denis Villeneuve adoringly call "Audrey Hepburn on acid." (The bangs really do create a resemblance.) "This is like the most fun role," the actor says with a smile. "I miss her, I miss Luv."

Ashley Batz/Bustle
Ad failed to load

The longing is understandable, considering how rare a character like Luv is. Although much of her backstory is left a mystery (Hoeks studied the emotions of actor Rutger Hauer's original Blade Runner villain, Roy Batty, to better understand her antagonist's mindset), Luv's sharpness and devotion to Wallace fill in the blanks, making her a fascinating character study. "What I was grateful for is not having to play the girl next door, the cliche," Hoeks says. "I felt like I didn’t have to be that vulnerable woman that suddenly was very strong, or decided she could go on a different path of life."

"Those roles are around so much... and those are fun sometimes," she continues. But "it was so nice," Hoeks adds, to have "a different kind of" part to take on this time around. "Playing with satire, strength — it strengthened me," she explains. "As an actor and as a human being, it gave me more of a feeling that women get to be there, more and more."

Ashley Batz/Bustle
Ad failed to load

There's no question that between Hoeks' Luv, Robin Wright's replicant commander Joshi, and Ana de Armas' holographic Joi, women do get to be there in 2049. But the movie is still undeniably male-focused, and some critics have pointed out that the female characters, while plentiful, exist more as sex objects and helpers for the men than actual human beings of their own.

"I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I can see where they come from," Hoeks says of these critics' viewpoints, clearly choosing her words carefully. "It’s a certain view of a certain futuristic view. And there are sex workers there... But on the other side, there’s Robin Wright, there’s my character... there are a lot of strong women in the film."

And while the other personality traits (or lack thereof) in 2049's women can be up for debate, but there's no denying that these ladies are powerful as hell — emotionally and physically. To play the commanding Luv, Hoeks gained 15 pounds of muscle, and trained three hours a day, six days a week, for three months. The results are apparent from the intensity of the fight scene the actor shares with Ryan Gosling late in the movie, where the two exchange punch after punch, both on land and underwater. The scene, thankfully, went down better than the one Gosling had with his other co-star. (For those who haven't yet Googled the hilarious photo of Harrison Ford accidentally punching Gosling in the face, do it now.)

Ad failed to load

"You don’t want to hurt America’s sweetheart," Hoeks tells me, with a big laugh. "I’m so happy that I didn’t… I’m happy Harrison did. He can do it. If there’s one person that can, he can do it."

Ashley Batz/Bustle

That may be the case for now, but don't be surprised if Hoeks joins the list one day soon (sorry in advance for the black eye, Ryan). At the moment, the actor is resting comfortably with her level of success, as happy to jet around the globe promoting 2049 alongside her A-list co-stars as she is with going unrecognizable on red carpets due to her blonde, bang-less hair. But with Blade Runner's acclaim and her upcoming roles —  a war movie written by action master Luc Besson, and a London-set thriller in which she headlines the cast — Hoeks' ability to blend into the background is most certainly temporary.

Ad failed to load

Before long, she won't need to look at Swift, Gomez, or anyone else for inspiration — the reality of fame, success, and grabbing everyone's attention will be right at her disposal.

Hair: David Von Cannon at The Wall Group

Makeup: Daniel Martin for Dior Beauty

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In March, So You Can Plan Your Next Marathon Now

Even though the groundhog saw his shadow — forecasting six more weeks of winter — a nice spring thaw is already on everyone's minds. Fortunately, Netflix has things squared away for March. Whether you're ready to cozy up in front of a fire or get you…
By Sophy Ziss

11 Thoughts That Mean You’re Not As Happy With Your Partner As You Might Think

Even if your current dating situation seems to be going well — you're hanging out, having fun, having sex, etc. — it's still possible that you might not be happy with your partner, and thus not truly happy in your relationship. This can be a gut feel…
By Carolyn Steber

25 Book Recommendations From Your Favorite TV Characters

Although the two may seem like natural enemies, the truth is, television and reading are a match made in bibliophile heaven. Not only are some of the best shows based on or inspired by literature, but whenever you turn on the tube you can be sure to …
By Sadie Trombetta

It Took Heather Graham YEARS To Make A Movie About Women Ditching Toxic Men. The Reason? Men.

They say you should write what you know. But in Hollywood, that age-old advice apparently needs an addendum: Write what you know — as long as men are into it. And for actor and newly minted director/screenwriter Heather Graham — a woman who swam thro…
By Kelsea Stahler

Bustle's Editors On K-Beauty + McDonald's

If you're a glass-half-full kind of person, you're probably rejoicing over the fact that the week's more than halfway over. And if not, keep your chin up. I've got some insane Fashion Week and McDonald's news to hold you over. So, without further ado…
By Melissa Mills

7 Signs Your Energy Is Closed Off To Love, According To A Psychic

Finding love requires more than just the actions of going on dates or setting up an online dating profile. It also requires opening yourself up to love and giving off the vibe that you're open. You may not even realize it if you're energetically bloc…
By Suzannah Weiss

Target Just Launched A Gorgeous New Home Brand — And Most Pieces Are Under $30

Design lovers rejoice! Everyone's favorite store for pretty much everything is about to make all your daring decorating dreams come true. Today, Target's corporate blog issued a press release that provides a peek into Target's new homeware line, Opal…
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

17 Brilliant Ways To Support Parkland Survivors Wherever You Are

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors are demanding Congress take action. A large group of students who survived the shooting are opposing politicians' "thoughts and prayers," arguing that inst…
By Sarah Beauchamp

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale