‘Skyfall’ Interview: Naomie Harris on Creating a Modern Bond Girl

Published 1 year ago by

NaomiHarrisMain Skyfall Interview:  Naomie Harris on Creating a Modern Bond Girl

Forget just playing a Bond girl on the big screen. After extensive training in shooting, combat fighting and stunt driving, all Naomie Harris has to do, apparently, is go online and fill out an MI6 agent application.

In Skyfall, Harris stars as Eve, the MI6 agent who’s involved in the mid-mission slip-up that lets an enemy make off with a hard drive containing the identities of embedded agents. With James Bond (Daniel Craig) in sub-par form, Eve steps up to assist him in any way she can – whether it’s backing him up with a gun in hand or ensuring he’s clean-shaven for his next mission.

Even though she broke into the spotlight playing the no-nonsense Selena in 28 Days Later, action isn’t really Harris’ thing. However, thanks to extensive training and guidance from director Sam Mendes and Bond franchise producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, she hit the set of “Skyfall” feeling prepared, relaxed and part of the Bond family.

Check out what Harris had to say about her meeting with a former MI6 agent, making Eve a standout Bond girl, giving 007 a quick-shave and more:

Screen Rant: Do you remember your first experience with James Bond films?

Naomie Harris: “I don’t really remember the first time because being British, I grew up with the them. As a kid, I remember them always being on TV, but I think the first time I actually went to see a Bond movie was with Pierce [Brosnan]. But the first movie that really resonated with me and I was like, ‘wow,’ was Casino Royale for me, because it was the first time I saw a vulnerable Bond and I could really empathize with that. I was like, ‘Wow, he could actually really get hurt,’ and, ‘He could actually really fall in love.’ Before then they’d kind of been like cartoon characters where nothing could really hurt them. It was great, but there was nothing really at stake and suddenly with Daniel’s character I felt like there was something at stake.”

And how about applying that to a Bond girl? Typically we just get the standard traits – sexy, glamorous, sophisticated, eye candy – but in Skyfall there are many levels involved. Is there any one past Bond girl you think opened the doors to making these women fully-realized characters?

“I think it wasn’t so much looking in the past and seeing other Bond girls; it was more Sam, Barbara and Michael and what they said to me at the audition. They were like, ‘We want you to take this character in a modern direction. That’s why we’re casting you and we’re giving you the scope to do that,’ which was really liberating.”

What about when you first got the script? How do you take a role like that from script to screen and make it your own?

“It’s a lot of imagining basically. A lot of creating a backstory for the character and imagining what life would be like if you were an MI6 agent. But what really helped me was Sam had me with a former MI6 agent and I got to interview him about his life, which was so cool. And he said at the end of the interview, ‘You know, you would make a brilliant agent.’ And he said, ‘You are exactly the kind of person that we would recruit.’ And I was like, ‘Me? Really?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, because no one would suspect that you’re an agent and also you have an ability, which makes people talk much more than they should,’ and I was like, ‘Wow! That’s really cool!’ And so for me that sparked something in my mind because I was like, I could have left university and instead of going to drama school, I could have joined up with MI6 and what would have happened? So Eve is a creation of that kind of thought process.”

NaomieHarris2 Skyfall Interview:  Naomie Harris on Creating a Modern Bond Girl

And now you’ve got all the physical and gun training, so you really can join up if you want!

“I really can! I can ring them up. You can apply online now I discovered!”

Did you leave that meeting walking down the street feeling like, I can do anything now?

“Yeah, I really did actually. [Laughs]”

And how about all that training? I know when I drive, I’ve gotta focus on the road, but you’ve got the road, choreography …

“… the train! Yeah, it was a lot of preparation. I was like two months preparing for the role. I was like five days a week, two hours a day working with a trainer, and she was taking me to do yoga and running, circuit training. And then I was three days a week on the gun range, learning to fire Walther PPKs and machine guns. I was doing stunt driving once a week – and then once a week I was with the stunt guy doing combat training as well. So for two months, it was an intense schedule.”

It’s like secret agent school!

“Yeah! It probably is!”

How about working with Sam? It’s one thing to get all of that training, but did Sam have you do anything on set to help bring it all out within the character?

“The thing about Sam is his philosophy, which I think is like most directors: you cast well and then you allow your actors the freedom to have fun with the role and to make it their own. And so that’s really a liberating feeling working with him. In the beginning, the first thing he did before rehearsals was sit us down with John Logan, one of the writers, and he was like, ‘If there’s anything you want to change script-wise or anything you want to add or extra journey for the character, just go for it. We’ll do it.’ You really felt that kind of freedom and then he also, on set, creates this really intimate environment and he makes sure that there aren’t too many people on set. You just feel really relaxed and calm, and it’s a really collaborative experience, which is such a nice feeling.”

SamMendesNaomieHarris Skyfall Interview:  Naomie Harris on Creating a Modern Bond Girl

Did you throw any ideas out when he asked if you wanted to change anything?

“Not at all. I can’t really think of anything because, for me, I’m not a writer, you know? I’m an actress, so I see the script as my bible and I like to work within the confines of that and create off that. But I’m not gonna to tell a writer, ‘Yeah, she should do this.’ That’s not where my mind is at.”

And how about Barbara and Michael? As longtime Bond producers, did they have any advice for you?

“That’s interesting actually. They never really gave me much in the way of advice, but they were incredibly warm and generous. They are amazing in terms of Barbara giving me her number and just saying, ‘Call me anytime, night or day,’ and anytime you text and say, ‘I’m thinking about this and I’m worried about …,’ you get a message straight away, and this woman is doing stuff on Broadway and then doing stuff in the West End in London, and filming this. She has such a busy schedule and she still finds time to do things like this. It’s quite extraordinary, so she’s amazing. And Michael is exactly the same! They’re really warm, and take you out to dinner loads, and make you feel really part of the family.”

How about working with Daniel? At the press conference you mentioned never having worked with him before that first scene you shot, right?

“Well, no. We did meet up with the writer together, but when you’re rehearsing, you don’t do it properly, so it’s kind of that first moment when the cameras start rolling, that’s when you know when you’ve got the chemistry or not, and whether it’s gonna work. And I’m just so lucky that it did because as I said, we didn’t have a screen test together, so they just took a risk.”

NaomieHarrisDanielCraig Skyfall Interview:  Naomie Harris on Creating a Modern Bond Girl

And, of course, that chemistry really comes in handy during your more intimate moments. You don’t have those typical, quick, Bond-gets-the-girl sex scenes, but that shaving scene is pretty sensual! How was it shooting that?

“It was great because so much of the movie was this action stuff, which is outside of my comfort zone. It’s not what I’m used to, so it was nice to get back to something that I’m actually really comfortable [with]. It was great to do a scene where it was just me and Daniel, and it was really intimate, and it was just about character and being playful. I really enjoyed it.”

Are you really shaving him? I feel like that might be an insurance risk holding a blade to an actor’s face. [Laugh]

“[Laughs] Yeah, it would be too much of an insurance risk, unfortunately. I learned how to do it! I worked with a barber, I did my foam on the balloon and I didn’t pop any of my balloons, so I could do it!”

[Laughs] You do all of this combat, gun and stunt driving training, and then you’ve got to learn to shave a balloon.

“Yeah! I learn it all! I’ve got some great skills now for life.”

So how does it feel being part of this franchise during the 50th anniversary and when we know we’re heading towards film 25? Do you feel the pressure?

“No, not really at all because people are just loving this movie. They really are absolutely loving it. People are saying it’s the best Bond ever! And so because of that, no, I don’t feel the pressure. I just feel so incredibly proud to be part of it and I’m really so happy that it’s done so well as well, because I know how much passion, commitment and love has gone into it, and from people that I care a lot about like Sam, like Barbra, like Michael as well as the actors. I’m just really happy that it’s doing so well and I don’t feel the pressure at all now. The pressure was before.”

And how about your future with the franchise? Looking ahead towards anything?

“I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see!”

-

Follow Perri on Twitter @PNemiroff.

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TAGS: james bond, skyfall

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  1. I cant wait for

    1. I see this movie again, this time in English
    2. It opens in the States so i can start talking spoilers here and with my friends.

  2. I like the :3 face in the shaving pic.

  3. Aquaman: “Naomie Harris discusses the art of shaving, shooting and driving in the newest James Bond adventure.”?… Shaving?
    Green Lantern: SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!! WE ALL HATE YOU!!! GO AWAY!!!
    Space Ghost: I agree.
    Professor X: While I would enjoy if we all got along, I would really like to see Aquaman die a slow and painful death.
    Aquaman: But… I was just pointing out the “shaving” part, I found it odd until I saw the picture.
    Wolverine: LET ME AT EM!!!
    The Tick: (holds Wolverine back) I cannot allow that, lil man with sharp knives. That is not the heroic thing to do!
    Dr. Doom: (smiles, not that you could see it, but he does) Good thing I am not a good guy.
    DoomsDay: MUUUUURRDDDER!!!
    Spiderman: What the h@ll is that thing?
    The tick: That would be a dastardly villain!!!
    Aquaman: I WAS TALKING HERE GUYS!!!
    Batman: (Eating a piece of cake from the fridge) Then you should stop that.
    Aquaman: ARE YOU EATING MY PIECE OF CAKE!!! THAT IS MY BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!
    Batman: No name on it.
    Aquaman: IT IS ON THE FROSTING!!!
    Batman: Not anymore (takes a bite out of the part that reads “Aquaman” and spits it out and coughs)
    Ms. Marvel: Are you alright?
    Batman: That… Bastard… Tried to… Kill me. (cough cough)
    Aquaman: What? I did not! You just choked on a piece that was as big as your head!!!
    Beta Ray Bill: GET HIM!!!
    Aquaman: NOOOOO!!!! (runs away and the rest chase him, spoiler alert, Japanese fisherman catch him in a net and kill him, they get rewarded by the FF, X-men, Justice League, and Heros for Hire, and The Avengers, Batman did not reward them, because he wanted to kill Aquaman himself)

    Deadpool: What? No me?
    Voice in Deadpools head #1: The whole world hates you.
    Deadpool: I know right?
    Voice in Deadpools head #2: The world loves you Wade, just like they hate aquaman, but the opposite.
    Deadpool: (counting the syllables on his fingers) You just said a Haiku, Voice in Deadpools head #2.
    Voice in Deadpools head #1: gasps!
    Voice in Deadpools head #2: Huh? Look at that, I guess I did…
    Deadpool: I WILL STAB YOU WITH A Q-TIP BRAIN!!!

    • Good lord man. This is completely unrelated to the post but it was hilarious!hahaha. Make a skit and throw that on Youtube asap!

  4. the banner of Naomie Harris make her look like Misty Knight :P

  5. I saw “Skyfall” today. Wow! It really is quite an incredible film. People were saying it is the best Bond film yet, and as much as I thought that would be hard to believe….it really is (IMO).

    Obviously, because it is set in present day you aren’t going to get the same feeling or treatment as a 60′s Bond, a 70′s Bond, 80′s Bond or 90′s Bond. But it really does have so many elements that are just soooo oo7, and many that had been missing from the series for years.

    It actually does certain things that in previous Bond films seem fine and exciting when you are a kid, but end up looking cheesy now. But in this it does those things and gets away with it. It’s strange, it’s part large, jet-setting film and part small drama. And it’s possibly the most British feeling Bond film yet.

    Javier Bardem was great. He actually manages to play a character who has all the strange quirks of a Bond villain without seeming like a cartoon character or a cliche.

    A great film.

  6. Javier Bardem was great. He actually manages to play a character who has all the strange quirks of a Bond villain without seeming like a cartoon character or a cliche.

  7. Having watched the other Bond films several times over in my lifetime Skyfall is in the top three for me. Goldfinger is still my favourite for nostalgia reasons but Skyfall is just as good and Daniel Craig is tapping Connery on the shoulder now to be the best Bond so far in my opinion…

  8. Usually the regional movies are remade from English movies with necessary spices to meet the audience. In this movie, i felt most of the scenes were remade from regional movies with 007 tag in it. I would say the 007 flavor is missing in fact after the dusk of Brosnan. Eager to see the 007 with Guns,Girls and Martini – in style.