The first word on the movie formerly known as Bond 24, from the April Edition of Empire Magazine. No real spoilers here. Interesting that, while the editor describes the all important Gunbarrel beginning marking the start of another rollicking 007 adventure, the main article didn't touch upon whether or not we might see it restored to the start of the new film, Spectre.
The World's first look at Spectre
If you're 16 or 75, you'll know that moment. The lights go down, John Barry's immortal orchestral sting strikes up, and we see through the eye of that anonymous assassin — as perennially doomed as South Park's Kenny — trying to draw a bead on the well-dressed man... who twirls and fires a lethal pistol shot. Bond is back — always the same, always different. Simultaneously as homely as a hug from aunty on Boxing Day, and as exotic as a kiss from a supermodel in a Macau casino.
You can tell a lot about a country from its choice of hero, America has the preppy omnipotence of Superman by day, the gothic paranoia of Batman by night. Britain has Bond. Not quite super, often questionably heroic, but dogged, brave, witty and capable of high-beam charm and hardcore violence in the pursuit of a megalomaniac with a small army.
My first brush with Bond was 1985's A View To A Kill. Not a vintage year for wine or Bond, as a creaky Roger Moore lived the dream for all men touching 60: driving sports cars, sleeping with three beautiful women young enough to be his daughter and punching people at work. I was hooked.
Fast forward 30 years, and Bond movies are (like their star Daniel Craig) leaner, harder and more stylish. So when we were offered the first look at Spectre, 007's 24th outing, we reacted like you would. Arch nemesis Blofeld is rumoured to be back, and the delectable Monica Bellucci will be the first Bond girl since Goldfinger's Pussy Galore to be older than the man himself. I sense a tour de force. See what you think on p.58.
THE ASTON MARTIN'S OUT OF THE GARAGE.
THE WALTHER PPK'S RELOADED.
HIS DEADLIEST-EVER FOES HAVE RETURNED.
EMPIRE WELCOMES BACK CLASSIC 007 WITH Spectre, THE MOVIE THAT'S GOING TO TOP Skyfall
Words Chris Hewitt, Additional Reporting Phil De Semlyen
007 HAS A SECRET. A TERRIBLE SECRET. A DARK SECRET.
And Empire has just stumbled right upon it.
It's late January, and we've come to Pinewood Studios to visit the set of Spectre, the 24th official James Bond movie, on a real scrotum-shrinker of a morning; so cold you could be forgiven for thinking that you're in the Austrian Alps. Which is precisely what we re meant to think when we walk through the doors of a soundstage (not the 007 stage — that's being reserved for the construction of something huge for the film's finale) and find ourselves in the rarefied five-star surroundings of the Hoffler Klinik.
A spa hotel for the seriously rich, the Klinik is a seriously impressive set, using so much steel that when it's dismantled, the framework will be turned into the film's brand-new MI6 headquarters. Empire enters through a lobby that's dominated by a giant fireplace in the middle of the room, around which sit sofas in a hexagonal arrangement. Above is a glass ceiling flecked with fake snow and surrounding the entire set, visible through every window, is a giant panoramic shot of the Austrian Alps. Turn off your phoned GPS and you could almost imagine that you were in Obertilliach.
Bond's secret lies two floors up, in a large glass-and-chrome office — the Beratungsraum, or Consultation Room — that is home to Madeleine Swann, the newest and, perhaps, most mysterious Bond girl to date. A quick browse through the reading material dotted around the room informs us she's a doctor, perhaps a shrink: The International Journal Of Psychoanalysis lies on one table, CBT For Worry & Generalised Anxiety Disorder on another.
And it's there, on Swann's desk, that we discover it, scribbled on a prescription pad. It's dated 25/4/15, placing us ever-so-slightly in the future, and it lists 60 Vicodin, 60 Xanax... and, most shockingly of all, 120 Viagra. The patient's name? James Bond.
His secret is out. When you've been as active between the sheets as he has over the years, it seems, you sometimes need a little help keeping the British end up. And let's face it, if Bond and Spectre are somehow going to surpass the secret agent's last cinematic outing, he's going to need all the help he can get...
RELEASED: October 23
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
STARRING: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Ralph Fiennes
STORY: The secret service is in danger of being dismantled, while James Bond (Craig] goes on the trail of a terrifying criminal organisation: Spectre.
LIKE FROM THE OLD BOND MOVIES!
Precisely. Returning director Sam Mendes is pushing the old-school feel he brought to Skyfall even further with this one.
Photo: Nice Spectrecals, James! Daniel Craig returns as Bond.
"EVERYBODY SEEMED TO LOVE Skyfall, AND that's what we're going for," says Barbara Broccoli who, along with Michael G. Wilson, is the producer of Spectre and keeper of the Bond flame. "We want to make a movie that people love, like they loved Skyfall."
Easier said than done. Skyfall was a breakthrough for Bond in many ways. The franchise has always been huge, of course, but Skyfall was the first 007 flick to bust the billion-dollar barrier. It was also critically adored, restoring the lustre to the franchise that the misguided Quantum of Solace had rubbed off and picking up the series' first major BAFTA in almost 50 years (for Outstanding British Film in 2013). With Sam Mendes at the helm, it was a heavyweight of a movie, serious and sombre and testing Bond as a character in a way that he hadn't been in years.
How do you follow that up? Do you simply bung Skyfall a load of little blue pills and hope for the best? Or do you look elsewhere for a solution? For instance, now that you've reinstated Q and Moneypenny and the Aston Martin, back in the series' illustrious past? And the further back you look into someone's past, the more likely you are to chance upon a Spectre...
The Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, aka Spectre, was a perennial thorn
"OUR Spectre IS NEW, EXCITING, DIFFERENT." Barbara Broccoli
in Bond's side through the early years of the franchise. Then it disappeared from Bond's cinematic life. Though ever-present in the Connery films, it troubled Moore just once. And that was the last we heard from it.
There was a good reason for this. 1965's Thunderball features a producer whose name doesn't appear on any other Bond movie: Kevin McClory. An Irish filmmaker/writer, McClory was instrumental in the creative process that led to Ian Fleming's novel, Thunderball, in which Spectre made its debut.
When he was subsequently deprived of credit, McClory sued Fleming and won, and as part of the deal became a producer on Thunderball. He also held the rights to the novel and all its characters, although he wasn't allowed to make a film version for ten years. When that time period elapsed, McClory started work on the non-official 007 movie that would become Never Say Never Again. Meanwhile, back in the official Eon films, Spectre vanished.
McClory tried several more times after that to get another version of Thunderball off the ground, most notably with Warhead 2000AD, which would have starred Pierce Brosnan before he became Bond, but nothing came to fruition. McClory died in 2006, and any desire to make a rival Bond seemed to die with him. Nevertheless, the tortuous tug-of-war over the rights to Spectre continued for a few years, during which time Eon rebooted Bond and, without recourse to 007's arch-rivals, forged its own Spectre-a-like villainous organisation, Quantum.
Photo: Returning Bond-wrangler Sam Mendes and newbie Lea Seydoux get serious on set.
Then, in 2013, a settlement was reached, and suddenly Spectre was back in play. There was speculation that the next Bond film would see the return of the evil organisation, and when Mendes confirmed the title back in December, it seemed nailed-on. But official confirmation that Spectre would, indeed, involve Spectre wasn't forthcoming until now. Michael G. Wilson describes Dave Bautista's Mr. Hinx as "an assassin... one of Spectre'S top guys", while one lavish set Empire glimpses at Pinewood is a stunning Italian chamber, inspired by a building in Naples, all green, marble walls and columns, where we're informed a top-level Spectre meeting will take place. And Bond will gatecrash it. Rest assured, the title of this Bond film is not a double-bluff. Spectre is back.
"Spectre has, in the whole history of Bond, played an important role," says Broccoli. "We thought, ‘Okay, now's the time to explore that again in a new and exciting and different way. We wouldn't be attempting to go there unless we knew we had a good way of doing it."
Today, though, Bond isn't fighting Spectre. Instead, on the set of a bar, Daniel Craig is giving what-for to two jobsworth security guards. His investigation having pointed him in the direction of Lea Seydoux's Dr. Swann, Bond has rocked up at the Hoffler Klinik ready to pump her vigorously for information. Madeleine, though, presents Bond with an icy front, and has
"SHE'S BOND'S EQUAL. STRONG AND SMART." Lea Seydoux
him escorted off the premises. That's the plan, anyway.
With Mendes positioned just a few feet away, Craig — dressed in a black ski vest and trousers — paces around, listening to something on his iPod, psyching himself up. He wipes his nose and stands up straight. He's ready.
Mendes yells, "Action!" and Craig stalks towards the right-hand exit of the bar, flanked by the actors playing the security guards. And then, without warning, he explodes into action, grabbing the guard in front and taking out the one behind him with a swift punch. The first guard whirls around to face Bond, Who jabs a Harrison Ford-like finger at him and barks, "Don't! Stay!", before taking off for the other exit. The guard thinks better of it, and Bond runs out of the room.
It's a neat snapshot of Bond as battering ram, but it doesn't feel like a signficant escalation from Skyfall's largely internalised action. Where, Empire wonders, are the giant stunts? The enormous set-pieces? Where, for example, are the planes crashing down mountainsides?
GARY POWELL, Spectre STUNT COORDINATOR, squints into the harsh, cold sunlight of a beautiful Austrian February morning, and smiles. "We Could have put him on a set of skis, but a plane seemed better."
Now, this is more like it. Empire has come to Obertilliach in the Austrian Alps (no wrap-around backdrop here; this is the real thing) for a spot of snowbound second-unit skylarking.
Things have gotten out of hand since Bond evaded security back at the Hoffler Klinik. Whatever information Madeleine Swann has is valuable, so Spectre has dispatched Mr. Hinx to Austria to retrieve her. Much to Bond's chagrin, Hinx has bundled her into the back of a car and taken off at high-speed. Once upon a time, 007 would have strapped on a pair of skis, secured the Union Jack parachute, and started swishing down the mountainside in hot pursuit, Monty Norman's Bond theme blaring on the soundtrack and — quite possibly — inside Bond's head as well.
But skis are so 1970s. Instead, Craig's Bond commandeers a light aircraft, which he begins flying like a maniac, haphazardly piloting it through the snow-dusted pine forest, smashing through trees, divesting it of its wings, then its tail. Which brings us to today's shot.
Photo: Craig, Seydoux and Dave Bautista get their thermals on for filming in Solden, Austria.
The plane-turned-sled, having bashed its way through the forest on what production manager Martin Joy calls "the biggest aerial Scalextric you've ever seen" (the wires will be erased in post), will then smash through a barn, in classic Bond style, and continue out the other side. In less classic Bond style, it won't stir up a flock of panicked chickens. "We're not sure Daniel Craig is a chickens Bond," laughs art director Neal Callow.
That sound you can hear is Roger Moore's right eyebrow deflating in disappointment.
The production, under the auspices of second-unit director Alexander Witt, has brought in hundreds of crew members, and around 50,000 square metres of fake snow (the actual snow that fell overnight is the icing on top of the icing). As with any Bond set-piece, the shot has been months in the planning. Then Witt calls, "Action!", and the hull of the plane is shot out of the barn via a cannon and down the slope. It's all over in seconds, something Bond isn't used to.
This sequence, which arrives roughly mid-way through Spectre, is symptomatic of Mendes, Wilson and Broccoli's approach to the film. Skyfall largely stayed at home in Britain, while its big finale took place in Bond's family abode. It was insular, intimate, inward-looking. Its biggest stunt took place during the pre-credits sequence. Spectre is bigger and more extravagant, and Bond's whipped out the passport again. "We have a lot more locations going on," says Wilson. "Mexico (where the film's opening sequence will take place) and Rome and Austria and down in Morocco. And London. It's a lot."
Spectre featured prominently in the hack attack on Sony that took place late last year, with emails made public suggesting that the budget for the film would be around $300 million, making it comfortably the biggest 007 adventure to date, while a version of the script was also leaked. "We shut it down," says Broccoli. "It was stolen and then reproduced, and we didn't think that was right."
If you managed to get your hands on that script, don't smugly assume that it bears any resemblance to the finished product.
"It was a very old version," continues Broccoli. "This is a very organic — I hate the word organic, but I'm going to use it anyway — process, where everyone is continually coming up with ways to make things more exciting and more interesting and better."
Craig's Bond has been a breath of fresh air in many respects, but you couldn't accuse him of being a barrel of laughs. He's incredibly intense, super-serious, and generally treats one-liners as if they were henchmen to be punched. Yet the end of Skyfall, where a slightly breezier Bond stood at ease with his core MI6 support group of Q (Ben Whishaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and a new M (Ralph Fiennes), seemed to suggest that the rebooted series now has the confidence to embrace traditional Bondian humour. And while that won't extend to startled chickens in a barn or double-taking pigeons, we can expect this iteration of Craig's Bond to be a little looser, the sort of guy who might bark, "Stay!" at a security guard during a punch-up.
"IT'S GOOD, BOND IN FRONT OF AN <i>ADULT</i> WOMAN." Monica BELLUCCI
"You'll see Daniel's Bond in another way, in another form," says Broccoli. "I think we always try to have some lightness in the storytelling, but the story last time didn't really lend itself too much to humour because Bond started off being shot and left for dead. This film. Bond is on top of his game, top of his form, and then he's put through the rollercoaster."
WHO'S PUTTING BOND THROUGH THAT rollercoaster? Well, obviously, there's Mr. Hinx, the henchman with the throwback name and the first major role for Bautista since he made a stir as Drax in Guardians Of The Galaxy. That character was a lovable lunkhead; Mr. Hinx will be anything but. "When I came over to meet Sam, I only asked two questions," says Bautista. "I asked him if Mr. Hinx was a badass. He said, ‘Yes, he's a badass.' I said, ‘Well, is Mr. Hinx intelligent?' He said, ‘Very.' That's what I like about Mr. Hinx. He's very well-dressed and very well-mannered. I'm not just here to fight people. He has a sense of humour. He definitely knows what a metaphor is."
A long-time Bond fan, Bautista's casting is interesting on several levels. Even though he slimmed down to a mere 265 lbs for the role, Mr. Hinx is the first proper brick shithouse-sized opponent that Craig has faced across his four movies, and has the potential to make an impact along the lines of Oddjob or Jaws. Bautista is loath to give things away, but will admit that all but one of his scenes (thus far) were with Craig, and that "James Bond and Mr. Hinx are not friends".
But if/when Mr. Hinx is dispatched, Spectre will still be standing. He's not pulling all the strings. When it comes to puppet masters, Spectre conjures up one name in particular. "And what might that be, by chance?" laughs Broccoli.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld, of course. The Joker to Bond's Batman, the Moriarty to his Sherlock Holmes, the Piers Morgan to his Alan Sugar. "Never heard of him!" she cackles. We suspect that the daughter of Cubby Broccoli, and producer of eight Bond movies in her own right, is not being entirely serious, but just in case, let's have a quick refresher.
Bald (unless we're talking about the Charles Gray version). Wears a Nehru suit. Strokes a white cat. The über-bastard at the head of Spectre. Seen first as a shadowy presence, Blofeld came into his own with You Only Live Twice (as Donald Pleasence), and was responsible for the murder of Bond's wife, Tracy, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. But, with the McClory lawsuit looming, he became less significant in Bond's life, and was last seen being dropped unceremoniously (and symbolically) down a chimney at the beginning of For Your Eyes Only. In the years since, Mike Myers' Dr. Evil was such a spot-on piss-take of the character that it seemed pretty certain Blofeld would never darken Bond's doors again.
Yet here we are, with Spectre about to return and absorb Quantum (Jesper Christiansen, aka Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace's Mr. White, will show up here, after Skyfall jettisoned the Quantum storyline entirely). Blofeld is surely set to make a comeback too, and with Christoph Waltz on board as the bad guy this time ("He might be Bond's ally," deadpans Wilson), it seemed like an open-and-shut case. Blofeld
"HINX IS A BADASS. AND HE HAS A SENSE OF HUMOUR" Dave Bautista
is back, and Waltz is Blofeld.
Not so fast. For starters, Waltz' character is called Oberhauser and Wilson and Broccoli are adamant that Waltz is not playing Blofeld. "He said no in his press conference," says Wilson (incidentally, the leaked script bears him out on this). "We have Spectre and the rest is speculation," adds Broccoli.
Here's some more speculation to add to the mix. If Blofeld doesn't show up this time, there's a very good chance that Team Eon are holding him back for the next Bond, which is — right now — scheduled to be Craig's last and, as chance would have it, is also going to be the 25th 007 adventure. Broccoli laughs at the suggestion. "One at a time," she says. "It's tough enough making one at a time..."
Spectre IS OUT ON OCTOBER 23 AND WILL BE REVIEWED IN A FUTURE ISSUE.
SPYING BY NUMBERS
WHAT ARE THE REST OF THE DOUBLE-O SECTION UP TO WHILE BOND IS BUSY SAVING THE WORLD?
JAMES BOND'S FELLOW SPIES are rarely spotted in the films or Ian Fleming's novels, but their adventures are hinted at throughout. 001 is never referred to (perhaps the designation is reserved for M ?], but 002 is named as Bill Fairbanks, shot by Scaramanga while, er, 'on the job' with a belly dancer before the events of The Man With The Golden Gun. Bond recovers a vital microchip from 003's corpse in A View To A Kill, and 004 took part in The Living Daylights' Gibraltar training exercise along with Bond and another 002. There's no mention of 005, but 006 is referred to in Fleming's On Her Majesty's Secret Service: he and 007 bet on who will bed their secretary first. In Goldeneye, 006 Alec Trevelyan is revealed as a rogue agent.
008 seems on permanent standby — in both Goldfinger and The Living Daylights he's mentioned as a replacement if Bond refuses to follow orders or gets his knackers spliced by a laser. In Fleming's Thunderball, M puts 009 in charge of the Double-0 section while Bond is at a health farm, but the films' first 009 is less lucky: knifed in the back while dressed as a clown in Octopussy. Another 009 shot terrorist Renard in the head before the events of The World Is Not Enough, but failed to kill him. 0010 isn't mentioned. In Moonraker Fleming mentions 0011 and 008 as the only other Double-Os at the time (0011 is missing in Singapore, while 008 is resting in Berlin after a mission]. Fans have speculated that Skyfall bad guy Silva was once a 00, but writer John Logan denies this, telling us he was merely "an especially qifted spy".
THE BLUE is THE WARMEST COLOUR STAR PROMISES A DIFFERENT-FLAVOURED BOND GIRL
IF YOU'RE STRUGGLING TO IMAGINE Lea Seydoux as a Bond girl., don't worry, you're not alone. "I don't consider myself as a Bond girl," she says. "I think I'm not really the stereotyped Bond girl. I feel quite different. You can't be like, 'Oh, James.' You have to find something else."
Which is certainly what Dr. Madeleine Swann appears to be: a girl who happens to be in a Bond movie, rather than a Bond girl. Whip-smart and beautiful, the good doctor could well be the first woman to defrost Bond's heart since that nasty business with Vesper Lynd at the end of Casino Royale. But she'll do it on her own terms; unlike other girls from the franchise's history, she won't be throwing herself at Bond first chance she gets.
"He can't really have her," she says. "She's not seduced at first sight, and she doesn't fall for his tricks. She resists. She's his equal, independent and strong and smart, and she doesn't need him or wait for him to save her."
Of course, there might be a scene or two where Bond has to save her, but otherwise Madeleine is resourceful. Don't expect her to suddenly start taking out bad guys with roundhouse kicks. In that sense, she's closer to Vesper than, say, Quantum of Solace's Olga Kurylenko or Skyfall's Naomie Harris. "She's not a fighter, she's a doctor," she confirms. "She fights in another way,"
Seydoux has dabbled with English-language blockbusters before, most notably her small role as a villainess in that other spooky-titled spy caper Mission: impossible — Ghost Protocol, but Spectre is her biggest movie to date. It's hard to imagine that the darling of French indie cinema would get nervous about chasing after roles in Hollywood blockbusters, much less become so nervous that she nearly screws up the audition, but that's exactly what happened with Spectre. "I did not really succeed during the audition," she laughs. "I was early for the appointment and I was a little anxious, so I thought I would have a little beer to relax me, and then I started to have a panic attack and lost my text (meaning forgot her lines)! I felt very stressed about it."
Let this be a lesson to any budding actors out there: never drink and audition. Although, when the fit of the vapours had subsided, Seydoux was composed enough to ask for another audition, which she aced. "I didn't have any beer," she confirms.
Franken-Henchman (Illustration Bill McConkey)
THE ULTIMATE SINISTER SIDEKICK PIECED TOGETHER TO DESTROY 007
Oddjob's lethal, steel-rimmed headgear (Goldfinger, 1964)
The jaws of Jaws, perhaps the most iconic of all elements of Bond villainy (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977)
Tee Hee's robotic arm with the deadliest of grips (Live And Let Die, 1973)
Rosa Klebb's maid outfit, complete with spiked, poisoned shoe gives a false of sense of security (From Russia With Love, 1963)
Xenia Onatopp's thunder thighs will love you to death (Goldeneye, 1995)
Red Grant's wristwatch garrote, for when you have time to kill (From Russia With Love, 1963)
Baron Samedi bodypaint isn't deadly, but brings the fear of a voodoo hoodoo (Live And Let Die, 1973)
The facial accoutrements of one of Bond's lesser foes, Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971)
Zao's diamond-scars, to bring bling to your killing (Die Another Day, 2002)
Spectre: MEET THE TEAM
YOUR GUIDE TO THE BOND-HATING BUREAUCRACY
words KIM NEWMAN
Founder and Arch Villain
ERNST STAVRO BLOFELD
PLAYED BY; Anthony Dawson, Eric Pohlmann (voice); Donald Pleasence; Telly Savalas; Charles Cray; John Hollis, Robert Rietty (uncredited]; Max von Sydow APPEARS IN: From Russia With Love (1963); Thunderball (1965); You Only Live Twice (1967); On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969); Diamonds Are Forever (1971); For Your Eyes Only (1981); Never Say Never Again (1983)
Projects include nuclear blackmail (Thunderball), creating bioweapon; (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), hijacking US/ Russian spacecraft to trigger World War III (You Only Live Twice) and strafing Earth with an orbital laser (Diamonds Arc forever).
Head of Division
PLAYED Adolfo Celi; Klaus Maria Brandauer APPEARS IN: Thunderball (1965); Never Say Never Again (1983)
One-eyed, yacht-owning playboy, in charge of stealing a nuclear device for the purpose of extortion.
Head of Division
DR. JULIUS NO
PLAYED BY: Joseph Wiseman APPEARS IN: Dr. No (1962)
Communist-backed in the novel but a Spectre section head in the film, Dr. No tries to wreck the US space programme with radio interference.
High Ranking Minions
PLAYED BY: Vladek Sheybal APPEARS IN: From Russia With Love (1963)
Russian chess expert who works out a plan to steal a Soviet code device while incidentally getting revenge on James Bond after the death of Dr. No.
PLAYED BY Lotte Lenya APPEARS IN: From Russia With Love (1963)
ASMERSH (Soviet counter-intelligence agency] commissar in the novel, she defects to Spectre for the film. Known for her poisoned shoe-tips.
PLAYED BY: Luciana Paluzzi APPEARS IN: Thunderball (1965)
Seductress, killer... shot in the back while dancing with Bond.
PLAYED BY: Karin Dor APPEARS IN: You Only Live Twice (1967)
Disappointing mid-level counter-intelligence operative... handier as fish food.
PLAYED BY: Ilse Steppat APPEARS IN: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
A replacement for Klebb, Irma is Blofeld's secretary and vicious hit-woman. One of the few key Spectre personnel not to get killed in action.
THE THREE BLIND MICE
PLAYED BY: Eric Coverly, Charles Edghill and Henry Lopez APPEAR IN: Dr. No (1962)
Jamaican calypso killers, they pose as blind beggars... in order to murder spies.
DONALD RED GRANT
PLAYED BY: Robert Shaw APPEARS IN From Russia With Love(1963)
Trained specifically to kill Bond. But doesn't know which wine to have with fish.
PLAYED BY: Philip Locke APPEARS IN: Thunderball (1965)
Celibate, teetotal killer -impaled by spear-gun.
MR. WINT AND MR. KIDD
PLAYED BY: Bruce Glover and Putter Smith
APPEAR IN: Diamonds Are Forever(1971)
Hit-men. And outmoded gay stereotypes.
BAMBI AND THUMPER
PLAYED BY: Lola Larson and Trina Parks
APPEAR IN: Diamonds Are Forever(1971)
Martial-arts pin-up stereotype hit-women.
WHY THE BOND GIRL "THAT NEARLY GOT AWAY" FINALLY AGREED TO SIGN UP FOR THE 007 SPY GAMES
WHEN SAM MENDES WELCOMED Monica Bellucci onto the stage at the grand unveiling of Spectre and its cast at Pinewood back in December, it was almost as if you could hear the sound of thousands of palms hitting foreheads all at once. Sultry, seductive, impossibly glamorous, the Italian star of Irreversible and the Matrix sequels is, perhaps, the ultimate Bond girl.
The only question is, why didn't this happen sooner?
Well, it wasn't for the want of trying,
"We had wanted her a couple of times in the past, and it didn't work out," says producer Barbara Broccoli. "I was really afraid that she was going to be the one that got away. I couldn't be more pleased that we finally got her in a Bond movie, and in a really great role."
Bellucci doesn't want to name the 007 film she came close to doing, but she will admit that it "was almost 20 years ago", which would place it during Pierce Brosnan's tenure, and that the director in question sent her "a beautiful letter when I didn't do the film". Of her reasons for turning down the role of Bond girl then, she says, "When I was 20 or 30, it would be almost too obvious."
Now Bellucci is 50, and she looks upon her choice to take the role of Lucia Sciarra as a groundbreaking one. Bond usually dallies with women who are younger and more naive than he is — but not this time. Fifty years old, and 'James Bond?" she muses. "I think it's revolutionary It's good that James Bond is in front of a woman, an adult woman. Sam said, 'You're going to be the hero for women. 'A woman after 40, she freaks out, especially in this business. The possibility that a woman 50 years old can create desire, that's great for women today."
About Lucia, Bellucci can say little, other than, "Femininity is a sign of strength, instead of a sign of weakness," and that Bond encounters her in Rome. Empire's tour of the set includes a peek at Lucia's bedroom, littered with condolence cards written in Italian. We know of Spectre that a cryptic message from Bond's past triggers his investigation — is Lucia an echo from that past, and is her bereavement the spark that sets things off? Bellucci won't be drawn, offering only a knowing laugh.
She also brings to the table a keen knowledge of Bond-girl history. "All those James Bond girls in the past are images that become iconic, like Ursula Andress coming out of the water," she says. "These are moments that stay in the mind forever." So, can we expect something similar from Lucia in Spectre? Again, that knowing laugh.
"I don't know," she says. "It's all about the costumes..." We reckon it's a pretty safe bet. After all, Bellucci has to make up for lost time...
[Source: Empire Magazine, April 2015, P1,4,6,37,58-71. Copyright © 2015 Bauer Consumer Media Limited. All rights reserved.]