Sylvia Hoeks gained 16 pounds of muscle for Blade Runner 2049

Appearing in one of the year’s most anticipated films sounds glamorous, but for Sylvia Hoeks, the road there was anything but. “I was filming a movie in Germany and didn’t have time to make a proper casting tape,” she says of her audition for Blade Runner 2049, this month’s sequel to the 1982 cult classic. “In the middle of the night, I sat against the door of my Airbnb, because that’s where I could plug in the most lamps to light myself, and I just ran the scene with a handheld camera until dawn.” Thankfully, the 34-year-old Dutch actress’s lo-fi approach didn’t detract from her performance; she landed the part of Luv, the loyal assistant to the film’s archvillain, a nefarious replicant manufacturer played by Jared Leto. To prepare for the role, Hoeks put her body through the wringer. “I worked out six hours a day, six days a week, to get 16 pounds of extra muscle,” she says. “Then on Sundays I couldn’t walk. But Luv will do anything to please her boss. So going into that struggle of training every day, I really found her motivation and her pain.”

Growing up in Maarheeze, a small village in the Netherlands, Hoeks describes herself as a child as “very, very, shy,” and yet she has always been interested in using her body to tell stories. She modeled as a teenager until she started getting work in several Dutch films, most notably the 2007 dark comedy Duska for which she won a Golden Calf (the Dutch equivalent of the Oscar). Having finally found her way into Hollywood’s upper echelon, Hoeks can now take time to carefully choose her next steps. But patience isn’t exactly the first virtue that comes to mind when she describes her passion for acting. “It’s like flying,” she says. “There’s no time, there’s no space. It’s addictive. You’re looking for the next moment you can fly again.”