IZABELLA SCORUPCO STILL REMEMBERS the harrowing experience at the airport. The future actress, age 11, and her mother, Magdelena, were heading home to Sweden after a Middle East vacation when they changed planes in Hungary—and ran into trouble. Officials “didn’t believe we lived in Sweden,” says Scorupco. “Soldiers with guns pointed at my head followed me everywhere,” she recalls, “even into the bathroom.” Mother and daughter were taken to their native Poland, which they had left legally three years before. Three weeks later, the Swedish Embassy got them out.
Scorupco, now 25, is still having the occasional brush with disaster. Earlier this year, while filming the new James Bond movie, Goldeneye, she accidentally got too close to an exploding special effects prop. “My hair caught on fire—I did a Michael Jackson,” she laughs. Despite the pyrotechnics, Scorupco, who wasn’t seriously injured, insists that this Bond film, the 18th, is more than the usual techno-macho fantasy fare. “This is politically correct,” she says. “Bond doesn’t fall in love with my character [Natalya Simonova] for her looks. It’s her intelligence.”
Scorupco herself has both. Her parents divorced when she was a year old (her father, Lech, a musician, died three years ago in Poland), and Izabella, who speaks four languages, attended public school in Stockholm. After acting in school plays and one Swedish film, she turned to modeling in 1987 (landing on the cover of Italian Vogue), then singing (her ABBA-esque albums sell big in Sweden). But her big break came in 1994 when a Swedish casting agent recommended her for Goldeneye. “We were bloody lucky,” says director Martin Campbell. “She’s a real find.”
Scorupco, meanwhile, is finding time to relax. She has moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Boston, where she lives with her boyfriend of four years, Polish-born Mariusz Czerkawski, 23, who plays right wing for the National Hockey League’s Bruins. But though she helps 007 to save the world, Scorupco can’t get her guy to commit. “I hope we’ll get married,” she sighs, “but he never asks.”