Bond might be back, but let's face it, the Bond women have always stolen the screen. From legendary Bond girls like Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore) to Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder) to Halle Berry (Jinx Johnson), Bond girls have kept 007 in good company. This time in Bond's latest film, Spectre, Daniel Craig's 007 has two lucky ladies to keep him company. Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux can add themselves to one of Hollywood's most exclusive lists.
Léa Seydoux plays Madeleine Swann, a doctor and daughter of an adversary; while Monica Bellucci plays Lucia, the wife of the dead assassin Marco Sciarra. Bellucci's Lucia has found praise among some female audiences as she is not your typical young, pretty little Bond girl, but a mature woman. Bellucci is actually 51 years old, but that does not hinder her in seducing or being seduced by Bond. Both women play unique "Bond girls," but these characters' fates fare better than most of Daniel Craig's previous Bond girls.
We caught up with Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux to chat about their roles in Spectre, their characters' strengths and uniqueness as well as how they advanced the Bond mythology.
You ladies seem like you are the luckiest in the world -not because you are Bond girls - but you are Bond girls that seem to fare better than most Daniel Craig Bond girls. Am I wrong?
Léa: Yeah, we are lucky.
Monica: We are lucky, but... I actually respect so much of [what] the Bond girls [have done] because in a... way all of them [have] created [different] strong [images of] femininity I think. If I think about... Famke Janssen or Rosamund Pike or Halle Berry or Eva Green [or] Sophie Marceau all of them in a different way created strong Bond girls. Everybody says to be in a Bond film for an actress is a big [deal, but they also say it's] like play[ing] to an object[ified] female. I do not agree actually.
Léa tell me a little bit about your character. Is she Bond’s new love interest [after Vesper Lynd]? I mean you guys have that magical time on the train. You seemed to "bond" a lot.
Léa: Yes, so Madeleine is an important character in the film. I think it is the first time that we see Bond in love....I like her because she is a very independent [woman]. She is a strong character. She has a job. She knows how to protect herself. That is why she can connect with Bond because in a way they can understand each other, you know, and so she is a great character. I was very proud when I got the part.
Can you speak to the strength of having strong female characters within a Bond film. I mean usually they’re kind of seen as damsels in distress, but there are not like this in this film at all.
Monica: Actually, when I met Sam Mendes, I was a bit curious about my role because I said what am I going to do at my age, 50 years old, in Bond. He was looking for a mature woman. Lucia [my character] is an Italian widow with secrets. Actually she doesn’t have the beauty of the youth anymore, but she has her femininity and this is going to save her. I like the evolution of the femininity in the movie....Yes, she [Lucia] comes from a world where men have the only power. She actually tries to escape from this situation, and she needs Bond. Madeleine, she is the modernity of the future, so it is beautiful to see the evolution actually.
But you women aren’t weak at all in this film, no?
Monica: I have to say that Lucia, she is kind of weak. She has some weakness, because even though she is older,…she [is] less independent than Madeleine. It's like she has to learn how to get free, [but] Madeleine she knows how to get free. So, it is beautiful to see how women have to change. Actually [it] is a beautiful message [to] women I think.
Léa can you tell me how your character kind of adds to the mythology of Bond?
Léa: She is the daughter of an assassin. Of course, so maybe that is why she understands Bond, and when she meets Bond for the first time, she doesn’t want anything to do with him or his life. She is not very interested in a way... but then she falls in love. I think it is nice now. We see the romantic James Bond.
A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.
Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot.
As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.
Sam Mendes returns to direct SPECTRE, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as 007 for the fourth time. SPECTRE is produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. The screenplay is by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth, with a story by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade.
Spectre opens in North American theaters November 6, 2015.