Written By Cheng Hui Jie
After 50 wonderful years since the first 007 flick, the cast, crew and plot kept on changing but there is probably just one thing that remained constant over the total of 23 films: the Bond Girls. The Bond Girls are always stunning beyond words, perfectly pretty and never unattractively ugly.
Being a Bond Girl in the movie industry is like being a Victoria’s Secret Angel in the modeling industry. They are easily considered the most beautiful females from all around the world who are (mostly) blessed with the beauty and the brains.
Recently, comic creator Martha Thomases suggested that Judi Dench was more than a Bond Girl after publishing an article on why Dench (who plays Head of M16, M since Goldeneye in 1995) is NOT a Bond Girl. We are curious to know if the rest of the females should now be considered as Bond Women too!
Putting aside Daniel Craig’s top choice for the M16 agent’s next love interest/ bond girl, we are going international as we introduce all of you to arguably some of the best Bond Girls (or should I say, Bond Women) the world have ever seen.
Who would be a better Bond Girl to start with than the original Bond Girl, Ursula Andress? Andress performed splendidly as shell diver named Honey Ryder in the earliest 007 film (Dr. No in 1962). She managed to set a fairly high benchmark for the rest of the brilliant girls who followed her footsteps as Mr. James Bond’s girls and won the title of Best Bond Girl from an unscientific poll conducted by UK’s Daily Mail.
In fact, Andress became a known as a Bond Legacy after she managed to create one of the most famous sequences in the entire cinematic history. I am referring to the scene where she emerged from the waters, looking gorgeous in her white bikini that was later auctioned off in 2001 at £35,000! 007 Costume Designer Jan Termime even mentioned in an interview that she “was working in a Paris boutique and had 100 women a day asking for Ursula’s bathing suit.”
As the homeland to most of the Bond girls, there were just too many of them who are among best ones. Here are 5 pretty ladies that stood out from the crowd.
First up, we have Honor Blackman who acted as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964). As the oldest (37 at that time) and one of the most popular Bond Girl of all time, I guess it was no biggie when Blackman “used to be so upset” that she cannot play nice because Galore was a confident and tough diva who “turned straight” after mesmerizing and being mesmerized by Mr. James Bond.
Apart from Blackman’s beauty, it was her role’s double entendre name that brought about her current fame. Pussy Galore actually became a controversy in the 1960s when people were more conservative.
Another great Bond Girl from England and one of my personal favourites, would be Jane Seymour who played Solitaire in 1973’s Live & Let Die.
Solitaire was a very mysterious but naïve fortune-teller who possessed and lost her supernatural gift of Tarot-card reading after losing her virginity to Mr. Bond.
This effortlessly gorgeous lady was ironically asked to dye her hair black and put on contact lenses to even out her eye color for this role because she suffers from heterochromia (maybe Professor Xavier from X-men First Class finds her attractive too?) after being told she was perfect for the role.
“ I was very innocent when I got the part. I was 20. I’d been in The Onedin Line but a Bond movie – it wasn’t something I aspired to. I was hoping to do a good BBC drama, maybe some theatre. Next thing I knew I was in a Bond film,” Seymour shared in an interview along with her “mini” obsession with Maltesers.
Next, we have hot-favourite Tania Mallet, who played Tilly Masterson in Goldfinger (1964) . It was said that she got her role after someone sent her bikini picture to a Bond producer Cubby Broccoli.
Initially, Mallet was reluctant to take up the role, claiming that she simply could not afford being an actress,
“ … I earned more that that in a day (from) modeling, so that six months” she worked (or was retained to work) on Goldfinger were (a) real sacrifice.”
On a side note, we are sure we sensed Mallet’s tinge of jealousy towards Maud Adams, whom she brought up in an interview as “a far better model than actress” that we could say “made it” in films as the only Bond Girl who appeared twice.
At the end of the interview, she also voiced out her opinion on Bond Girls coming back,
“I don’t think any Bond girl should come back – they should all be different. That’s part of the ethos.”
Lastly, let us introduce two more note-worthy English Bond Girls.
And there was the “Golden girl” Shirley Eaton who played Tilly Masterson’s sister in Goldfinger. Eaton was literally “gold” when she was portrayed as Jill Masterson, who was ironically painted gold before dying as the first Bond Girl who died on-screen.
She also proved the urban legend that one would die of “skin suffocation” when fully covered in paint, wrong.
The sweet and lovely Maryam d’Abo hosted and co-wrote the 007 documentary- Bond Girls are Forever: The Women of James Bond (2002) as a Bond Girl herself and recently suffered from serious brain hemorrhage. Poor thing!
Moving on to the American beauties, we cannot help but notice the “Razzie Award” and “Worst Bond Girl” trend among them. We will leave it to you to decide if their “awards” were justifiable.
Carey Lowell was an ex-Army pilot and CIA informat and the first shorthaired Bond Girl, Pam Bouvier (License to Kill – 1989). She was named the 7th worst Bond Girl by UK’s Daily Mail. We just hope her hubby Richard Gere would approve!
“I didn’t fall into the category of the ‘classic Bond girl, I had short hair — and no Bond girl before me ever had. They put me in a wig at the beginning of the film and then had my character cut her hair to pretend to be someone else. That was to explain why my hair was short, ” Lowell told NYDailyNews.com why her character was not the typical sassy Blonde (oops, I meant Bond) girl.
Lowell also told Bond Girls are Forever host, Maryam d’Abo (also her co-star) that she learnt how to fire a gun without flinching as part of her role’s requirement and on how “sex sells” in an audition or rather, when auditioning to be Bond Girl.
And now for the girl on the top of UK’s Daily Mail’s “Worst Bond Girl” list, Denise Richards who also happened to be presented with a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress for this particular role. She played atomic physicist and weapon expert, Dr. Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough (1999). Maybe she did not do enough for her role, get it?
Fortunately for her, there was another American Bond Girl to share her misfortune with. The second most-hated Bond Girl was Tanya Roberts who performed as Geologist Stacey Sutton in 1985’s A View to a Kill.
This may sound like a shock but maybe not much. Who says Hollywood sex symbols, Charlie’s Angels and Bond Girls must be well loved, right?
Oscar-winning American Actress Halle Berry needs no introduction as Jinx, the Bond Girl who paid a tribute to Andress’s legacy when she emerged from the waters in an Orange bikini similar to her white one in Die Another Day (2002). Halle Berry’s character was born on Friday the 13th and was hence nicknamed Jinx.
She was the only actress who won an Oscar before being casted as a Bond Girl. Ironically, she was also one of the only actresses who collected her Razzie Award in 2005 for her Catwoman role.
“It was something I can honestly tell you I’m proud I was a part of,” Berry described how she felt as a Bond Girl for NYDailyNews.com.
As a frequent traveller, it was only expected that Mr. Bond’s taste in women switch between Occident and Oriental from time to time.
Mr. Bond showed his fondness for “kawaii” girls in You Only Live Twice (1967) when he fell in love with Japanese secret agent Kissy Suzuki (played by Mie Hama) and made her his first and only child-bearer to an Anglo-Asian son- James Suzuki. Mie Hama became the first Asian Bond Girl and the First Asian to appear in the Playboy magazine.
The lovebirds tied the knot under a “fake arranged marriage”, posed as a way to give Bond cover in a fishing village where they did investigations on a M16 mission.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you Malaysian-Chinese actress Michelle Yeoh who acted as Wai Lin in the 1997 bond film- Tomorrow Never Dies. Widely recognized by Singaporeans as “Anlene’s” spokesperson, she lived up to her name by choreographing some and performing her own stunts in the film.
As another Bond Girl who refused to admit to have fallen for Mr. Bond’s charm, Wai Lin put up a strong match against him, emotionally and physically.
“As that was my first English-language film, it was important to me to play an action hero — and not just be a notch on Bond’s bedpost,” Yeoh explained that Wai Lin may be a traditional Chinese trained in martial arts, but not the traditional Bond Girl.
Moving on to Italy where Mr. Bond might be able to get the best of “both” worlds from, considering that Italy is in both the eastern and western hemisphere.
Her voice was dubbed for the role but it did not matter because most Bond Girls were not casted for their acting abilities.
Now for some romantic French girls that Mr. Bond have managed to seduce and get seduced by, once again.
Eva Green was a foreign liaison agent, Vesper Lynd in 2006’s Casino Royale. She was assigned to “take care” of Mr. Bond’s fund managing issues but was later found to be a double agent working for Quantum (one of the villains).
Despite appearing flawless on-screen, the French actress expressed “insecurities” she had about her body on-screen during an interview with UK’s Daily Mail. We cannot blame her when she was ranked 6th on Mr. Blackwell’s 18th Annual Worst Dressed Women List in 2008.
She said “I opened a magazine the other day and they called me the worst-dressed person in the world.” and added, “And I was like, I like that dress.” during the same interview.
Finally, we have the sexy Bérénice Marlohe, the lastest Bond Girl from the 23rd installment in the James Bond’s series – Skyfall.
Of Cambodian, Chinese and French descent, playing Sévérine must have been a huge challenge for Marlohe as it was her “first English-speaking role”. However, it seems like clinching the role was a bigger challenge to her.
LA Times reported last month that “Marlohe was told time and again she didn’t have what it takes to become a movie star,” since eight years ago when she started her acting career.
It was due more on of her tall-build that may “overpower” the main actors in the show and sometimes because of her Eurasian heritage.
The Ultimate Bondwoman
Differentiating herself form the rest of the “Bond Women” or “Bond Girls”, Judi Dench put her acting skills to the test and opted for substance over style when she first accepted the role of M16 Head (formerly played by male actors- Bernard Lee and Robert Brown) in Goldeneye (1995). She onced praised Goldeneye’s “wonderfully written script” in the 007 documentary.
Even after playing as James Bond’s super strict but cool as cucumber superior, M for 007 of the 007 film series, she admitted to getting very nervous for every single one of them, including her latest masterpiece performance in Skyfall.
Being her humorous off-screen self, she told STV’s host two months ago, why she feels more comfortable acting in plays,
“… A great friend of mine said who went to see the cast and crew showing of Goldeneye, be prepared that your face is twince the size of your house (on the movie screen).”
Here are some bite-sized tidbits on this amazing actress:
This Oscar winning actress enjoys horse racing and wanted to become a painter or dancer as a child but studied set designing at an art school instead before starting her acting debut as a “snail” in Junior school Production in 1934. Oh wait, her “professional” debut happened in 1957 under Old Vic’s Liverpool production where she played Ophelia of Hamlet.
“Oh no, keep it a Bond girl. Goodness… I think a bond girl is sexier, isn’t it?” was what Bond “girl” Rosamund Pike (who played Miranda Frost in 2002’s Die Another Day) replied when asked on the idea of Bond Girls turning into Bond Women in the 007 documentary.
All of them have donned the big screens as glamorous, sexy and intelligent characters and are ALL winners, regardless of them being Bond Girls or Bond Women. This was all made possible by the incredible global exposure from the 007 spy film series.
Did we mention how the latest 007 blockbuster, Skyfall was worth every cent? Despite the slightly poor-planned plot, Director Sam Mendes perfected the rest of the many other aspects of the film, including getting someone as professional as Javier Bardem to be the villain.
What are you waiting for? Seize your last chance to catch Harris’ Ms. MoneyPenny and Marlohe’s Sévérine (again) in theatres island-wide!