October 22, 2015

Monica Bellucci, Léa Seydoux, and Naomie Harris Shake Up the New James Bond Film

Monica Bellucci, Léa Seydoux, and Naomie Harris, photographed in the Hamilton Penthouse, at the Corinthia Hotel London. Photograph by Bryan Adams.

Monica Bellucci, Léa Seydoux, and Naomie Harris, photographed in the Hamilton Penthouse, at the Corinthia Hotel London. Photograph by Bryan Adams.

The term “Bond girl” is at least four decades past its sell-by date. So, the “Bond woman”: hers remains, arguably, the most narrowly prescribed role in movie history. Traditionally there have been two: a good-ish one, who is romanced and discarded by 007 early on, and a bad-ish, more intriguing one, who is eventually persuaded to join Her Majesty’s team and who may survive long enough to see the “JAMES BOND WILL RETURN . . . ” memo in the closing credits. Given those prerequisites, and given the series’s other obligations—martinis, swanky locales, a villain with mental-health issues—“doing a Bond is an act of reverse engineering in a sense.” Or so says director Sam Mendes. He is currently putting the finishing touches on the upcomingSpectre, the 24th “canonical” Bond film and Mendes’s 2nd, following 2012’s Skyfall, the series’s most lucrative yet. In that one, perhaps not coincidental to its success, Judi Dench’s M was a full-fledged co-star to Daniel Craig’s Bond—the ultimate Bond woman, boss as well as surrogate mum. We likely won’t see her kind again. Spectre, though, will try to keep pace by featuring three Bond women: the English actress Naomie Harris, returning for her second go-round as Eve Moneypenny, former field agent now sitting behind the late Lois Maxwell’s old desk; the Italian actress Monica Bellucci (Irréversible and the two Matrixsequels); and the French actress Léa Seydoux (Inglourious Basterds, Blue Is the Warmest Color). The latter two women play, respectively, the wife of an assassin and the daughter of another. “As such, they reflect Bond back to himself,” Mendes says. “I know it’s the cliché now to stoke up the roles of women in large commercial movies by saying, ‘They’re so strong’ and ‘They’re his equal.’ It’s quite difficult to construct roles which actually conform to that.” But with this trio, he continues, “I think the combination of the roles and their authority as actresses help massively the feeling that they’ve lived lives before meeting Bond. They’re not simply adjuncts” or “wide-eyed innocents jogging around after him, sort of just over his shoulder.” Yes, we knew the type.


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