Back in March of this year, Loaded Magazine gave us an early look at arguably two of the most beautiful Bond Girls to date - Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci:
France’s new first lady of film has gone from a very blue movie to Bond girl. Say, “Bonjour, mon amour” to Lea Seydoux. We've come a long way since the innuendo-ridden days of Bond, when his girls were called Pussy Galore, Dr Holly Goodhead and Plenty O’Toole, The latest Bond beauty has been rather demurely named Madeleine Swann. But there’s been another change in the type of women bedded by 007 beyond their names. It now takes more than sultry eyes and a pillowy pout to play a Bond girl. The new breed of the spy’s female co-stars have real-life independence, gumption and mystery. They’re also usually mouthy, smart and exotic.
With those words, you get very close to defining the essence of new Bond beauty Lea Seydoux. The French actress will star in the 24th Bond flick Spectre, alongside Daniel Craig as the MI6 agent again. It was expected a Scandinavian actress would play the role (eight of them auditioned for the part, including Headhunter’s steely blonde Synnove Macody Lund.)
Parisian Seydoux swooped in late and changed minds, with 007 franchise bosses announcing she would be the next Bond babe just weeks before shooting started. 11 is believed the 29-year-old was already on the filmmakers' radar due to her critically acclaimed performance in the three-hour lesbian romance Blue Is the Warmest Colour, for which she won the Palme d'Or in Cannes in 2013. Her role as blue-haired art student Emma in BITWC also earned her a Bafta nomination for Rising Star, alongside the likes of Unbroken star Jack O'Connell and i2Years A Slave's Lupita Nyong'o.
“I feel sometimes I have something dark inside”
Seydoux is now on every 'one to watch’ list in Europe and the US. Prior to winning the prestigious Palme prize, Seydoux worked with Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood and Quentin Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds. A cameo in Wes Anderson's superb The Grand Budapest Hotel, released last year, was another smart move for Seydoux - the film was nominated for nine Oscars at last month's ceremony. Hobnobbing through the February award season in LA wasn't for Seydoux though. She was needed in Buckinghamshire at the iconic Pinewood Studios along with the rest of the Spectre's main cast - Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Monica Bellucci, also interviewed in this issue.
Giving a taste of the next 007 blockbuster, director Sam Mendes has said, “Spectre will be everything you would expect from a Bond movie, but in terms of the last movie, maybe a little more variety, maybe a little more mischief.”
Gap-toothed Seydoux is more than capable of on-screen "mischief” (one sex scene in BITWC runs to seven minutes). And Seydoux says her real-life persona goes way beyond mischief- she talks as if there's a demon inside her. "I don't know exactly what to say about it... it's just I feel sometimes, I feel like that I have something dark inside,” Seydoux struggles to explain.
Photo: WE'VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU Craig in a teaser clip from Spectre.
But when she loosens up and gets going in English, she sounds poetic Seydoux elaborates to Loaded about her inner darkness, "Not dark in the way that it's morbid. It's not gothic. It's more melancholy.” Despite being willing to bare all on screen, Seydoux is no pushover when it comes to cinema nudity. It was reported she told US and French journalists she would never work with BITWC director Abdellatif Kechiche again and that her and co-star Adèle Exarchopoulos felt like prostitutes when they filmed the movie's lengthy bedroom scenes. A few critics took the view it was a brave, potentially risky move from Seydoux as she has been on the cusp of breaking Hollywood ever since the film came out. Filmmaker Kechiche hit back by saying Seydoux's remarks were part of a media strategy intended to boost her already rising profile. He also called her a poor little rich girl who possessed a “spoilt-child arrogance”.
“I think that nudity is beautiful. Sometimes it can be awful, but cinema is about reality”
At the same time as she was complaining of exploitation, Seydoux was picked to star on the cover of the first relaunched issue of French magazine Lui - a famous top-shelf 1970s publication that has reinvented itself as a lifestyle read.
She appeared naked on the front and topless inside and the issue circulated 350,000 copies. Now, more than a year on from the BITWC controversy, Seydoux is unwilling to reopen old wounds. These days she will only say it was a hard process.
“It was difficult, but you know, many films are,” she says. “I like challenges but this was a special one because it was very, very intense.
“Even though it was intense, I am very proud of the film and very proud people love it so much, because the success of it is amazing.”
Full of passion, sex, idealism and youth, BITWC is hailed as a must-see. And the project was so full-on for Seydoux, it made her question her own sexuality. “The subject of sexuality is extremely important and as an actor I had to be extremely engaged,” she says.
“I found it hard to leave because it was so intense. All the preparation and everything and then the shooting, it was very long.”
It was a very different affair when Seydoux played fairytale princess Belle in La Belle Et La Bête - the French/German remake of Beauty And The Beast, released in France last year. For the next few months Seydoux will be immersed in guns, gadgets and dry martinis for Spectre. She has been undergoing a series of costume, make-up and camera tests so director Mendes and film producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson can figure out the right look for her. Probing for secrets of the new Bond flick's plot is off the table during the chat with Seydoux and we'll have to wait until November to see her in her finished Bond glory, but one thing that is for certain - she'll easily be able to cope with any bedroom scenes. Seydoux should also have no problem morphing into whatever Bond bosses have planned for her Madeleine Swann character - she says becoming an actress was her only career option because she quit studying.
It makes her far from stupid - plenty of her co-stars have said she's one of the smartest people they've worked with. And actually making it as a movie star once she left academia shows she's far from lacking in the brains department.
“It was my only choice because I didn't finish my studies," Seydoux tells Loaded.
“I mean there's nothing else I wanted to do as I have no diplomas, nothing at all.''
You weren't a model student then?
“No I was not," she adds. “I would have loved to have a very strong talent. I'm sure it is amazing to have like a beautiful voice, for example.”
Photo: RARE BIRD A freezing Seydoux is interviewed about playing Madeleine Swann in official behind-the-scenes footage from Spectre.
We're unlikely to hear Seydoux ever whinge about her job as she says she cherishes the freedom that comes with acting. “You are free and by yourself," she adds. “I like that I can have different lives and travel and meet new people."
When asked if she has acting idols Seydoux cryptically says, “I like people who have a strong personality. For me a strong personality is being apart in a way.
“There's something to be said for being different. I like it when you have your own taste and opinion and accept you are different."
Seydoux didn't struggle with being “different" growing up. The Seydouxs are a wealthy, well-known family in France. Her father Henri is CEO of the French wireless company Parrot. And her grandfather is the boss of French multimedia company Pa thé - which has a fortune estimated at £1 billion. Seydoux, whose older sister Camille is her stylist, grew up surrounded by parties attended by the likes of Lou Reed and Mckjagger. But she is very narked at the suggestion she sucked on a silver spoon and wouldn't have made it without her family connections. She says she now wants a “beautiful family" of her own - but with whom is a secret. Seydoux admits to having a boyfriend but won't give any more away than that. Determined to keep his identity hidden, her vague clues include, “he isn't an actor or famous", “he is very good at philosophy" and “I'm in love, I think".
She tells Loaded, “I believe you can find someone that can become your ally for life and you can find someone that is like your partner in a way. I believe in the team."
What a team to be in.
She Sey'd It
Le Word according to Lea. Seydoux tackles seven of life's biggest topics.
"I think that nudity is beautiful. Sometimes it can be awful. But cinema is the art about reality -it’s art from reality. In French we say, 'L’art de la réalité'. You show reality, so you show bodies,”
“I have ambitions for my love life, and I'm an optimist. I’d love to experience a beautiful love story.”
“I am about life. I surround myself with beautiful things. I work hard to have a better life. This job helps me achieve that through the people I meet. I’m lucky to have been able to meet all these people, to live these adventures and travel so comfortably. But despite that, it's still difficult. Nothing comes easily. Everything I've earned is down to me, and no-one else,”
“I basically got into all this to avoid having office hours, I liked the idea that you'd work really hard for certain periods of time, then not do anything for ages. But it didn't work out like that. All I ever seem to be doing is working,”
“For a long time I was obsessed with fairytales, so this is a dream, I wanted to be a princess,”
“One day, there’ll be slack times in my career. It’s unavoidable, because success is temporary. Which is why you have to stay focused in this very taxing job. I really like to play in English, and in Hollywood - it’s the land of cinema,”
1 don’t like comfort zones. I like being frightened and having to start from scratch. It’s a necessity for actors to feed on experience and live in fear of losing the plot,”
Bond's Maddest, Baddest Girls.
From Grace Jones’s biceps to Famke Janssen’s thighs, these are the top seven 007 femmes fatales - in fiction and reality.
001 GRACE JONES
ROLE May Day
FILM A View To A Kill, 19B5
ON SET Rippling with muscles, Jones played hench-woman May Day who possessed superhuman strength. She was the lover of the main villain Max Zorin, who abandons her to die. Eventually she sacrificed herself for Bond, with her last wish for the spy to avenge her by killing Zorin.
OFF SET Feisty and fearless, Jamaican-born Jones, now aged 66, is as strong and scary in real life as her May Day character. She's taken acid with Hell's Angels and in 1981, Jones shocked TV audiences when she slapped chat show host Russell Harty because she felt he was ignoring her.
002 HONOR BLACKMAN
ROLE Pussy Galore
FILM Goldfinger, 1964
ON SET Just by her name alone Pussy Galore is one of the most iconic Bond femmes fatales. Pussy, who was an original Ian Fleming character, ran a flying circus of female pilots, who were ordered to fly over Fort Knox and gas the soldiers so Goldfinger could break into the gold vault.
OFF SET One of hte sexiest stars, Blackman, now 89, has always had a glint in her eye. The strong-willed blonde opted for elocution lessons rather than a bike for her 15th birthday. When supporting Women's Aid campaign against domestic violence, she said, "I have never been thumped about because I could probably sort them out."
003 LUCIANA PALUZZI
ROLE Fiona Volpe
FILM Thunderball, 1965
ON SET Seducing men so Spectre (Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) agents can kill them was her main duty. As she tries to have her wicked way with Bond, she gets him to dance with her and, as his back is turned, henchmen take fire but he moves out of the way and Volpe is shot instead.
OFF SET Born in Rome, the red-head was in the same clique as bombshells Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida. She had a good time until she settled with her first husband Michael Solomon. When Paluzzi, now 77, did an interview in Japan to promote the movie The Green Slime, she grabbed headlines by saying she would rather be a geisha girl than a housewife.
004 MICHELLE YEOH
ROLE Wai Lin
FILM Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997
ON SET A Martial arts expert who can scale walls and rides a motorbike - she was a super agent from the Chinese People's Eternal Security Force. Lin is relentless in her pursuit of target Bond, who in the end becomes an ally and an object of desire. Straddling the spy on a motorbike, she purred, "Don't get any ideas, Mr. Bond."
OFF SET The former Miss Malaysia fought her way to the top in the male-dominated world of action films. Now, at 52, she's known as the 'queen of martial arts' after her role in Kill Bill. And she's one of the only co-stars Jackie Chan allows to do her own stunts. She lives life in the fast lane and is engaged to Jean Todt, director of the Ferrari F1 team.
OO5 MAUD ADAMS
FILM Octopussy, 1983
ON SET The Swedish ex-model played one of the most iconic Bond girls. Jewel smuggler Octopussy owns her own floating circus, where her and Bond make love - a lot. Octopussy almost meets her death at the edge of a cliff but is saved by Bond. Clearly she was just too good to kill off.
OFF SET So popular with the public, she’s the only femme fatale to appear in three Bond movies. Before her film career took off, Adams, now aged 52, was one of the highest paid models in the world. Her leading role in erotic 1981 film Tattoo opposite Bruce Dern provoked controversy about whether they actually had sex in the film. Dern said the skin on skin was the real deal. [Read More about this in her interview with Playboy Magazine]
006 FAMKE JANSSEN
ROLE Xenia Onatopp
FILM Goldeneye, 1964 (sic)
ON SET Onatopp gets sexual satisfaction through killing. After luring an admiral to her yacht, as they’re having sex she crushes his chest with her thighs, reaching orgasm while he takes his last breath. When she is finally defeated, Bond quips, "She always did enjoy a good squeeze,”
OFF SET Starting off as a model Janssen, now 50, has become an actress known for some kick-ass roles such as Jean Grey in X-Men. Living in New York, mysterious Janssen has managed to keep her private life quiet and God help anyone who asks. She once sniped, “I don’t like talking about dating.
It's like having a stamp on your forehead, 'I'm available.”
007 LOTTE LENYA
ROLE Rosa Klebb
FILM From Russia With Love, 1963
AGE Died at 83 in 1981
ON SET She was the member of Spectre operating under infamous villain Blofield. Klebb's weapon of choice were poison-tipped shoes. In the end she tries to kick Bond with her spikes but is blocked and killed by the film's other Bond girl, Tatiana Romanova,
OFF SET She fled Germany during the rise of Nazism and emigrated to the US to make a new life. A classically trained musician, she went on to become an award-winning actress. She married and divorced composer Kurt Weill and was the inspiration behind his massive hit Mack The Knife. After she starred in Bond people always checked her shoes for spikes.
La Bella Bellucci!
Forget Bond girls. Monica Bellucci is a Bond woman. The voluptuous Italian beauty, famed for her nude scenes, reveals her joy at becoming 007's lady friend... at the age of 50.
WORDS Lia Nicholls, Deputy Editor. PICTURES Thaddeus Harden/Corbis
Monica Bellucci smouldered for her first James Bond screen test for Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 - but lost the part to Teri Hatcher. So it's no surprise the Italian siren is "over the moon" about being cast in Bond 18 years later.
Bellucci will play Lucia Sciarra in the 24th 007 film Spectre.
"I am so, so happy," the actress beamed.
At 50 - yes, half-a-century - Bellucci becomes the oldest ever Bond "girl" in the history of the franchise. Finally, a femme fatale who is closer to 007's ripening age. Laughing, she told Loaded, "Instead of playing a James Bond girl, because of my maturity I play a James Bondwoman."
When the main line-up for the spy movie was revealed, there was a flurry of excitement from die-hard fans over bella Bellucci. Forums were awash with how fabulous it is to have the voluptuous diva on board. A few critics sneered at the choice, saying Bellucci is just a typical choice for the over-sexualised spy franchise and dismissing her as more "boobs than substance".
Okay, so it's likely the vixen will be poured into a tight cocktail dress that shows off the famous assets she displayed when making her big-screen debut as one of Dracula's bare-breasted brides in Francis Ford Coppola's version of the Bram Stoker novel. It's also probable said cocktail dress might end up on 007's floor, but this is Bond and there's no harm in celebrating Bellucci's beautiful form. And whatever the critics say, she's an actress with a back catalogue (including the shocker Irreversible) that shows she's far more than just a pair of boobs. You can bet director Sam Mendes is happy with his decision to cast her.
The former model stole the show alongside her female contemporaries at the recent announcement of the new Bond line-up at Pinewood Studios. An ecstatic Bellucci told Loaded, "I am so happy. I'm so happy to have the
chance to workwith this amazing cast. Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig and I have so much respect for all those amazing actresses who have already worked on James Bond before, like Sophie Marceau and Eva Green and Rosamund Pike."
Getting anything out of Bellucci about the new Bond plot is pointless as the cast, as always, are sworn to secrecy. Can't she even give a hint of what her character Lucia is like? Is she a dangerous femme fatale? Does she have rampant sex with 007?
"The only thing I can say is that my name is Lucia and, sorry, that's it I'm afraid," Bellucci replies.
Looking at her and 46-year-old Craig posing side by side at the Bond press conference, Craig, who is married to Rachel Weisz, looked more comfortable standing next to Bellucci than he did anyone else. In return, she has the highest praise for the craggy, blue-eyed Bond "James Bond is the ideal man for Italians, I think for everybody," she gushes. "He's courageous, strong, mysterious, sexy and the perfect English gentleman. So I think Daniel Craig is perfect for that."
After being so close to a leading Bond role before, Bellucci is well up to speed with the franchise. She admits her favourite MI6 spy was Sean Connery, until Craig came along.
"It has to be Sean Connery, I remember him well," she says. "Bond is a great tradition for England and all over the world."
This time around, Bellucci's casting process was quick. Mendes decided she was in straight away and she wasn't left hanging -Bellucci was told she'd gotten the part three months before filming started. Again, with lips pursed tight about the plot, she explained, "I came to London, I met with Sam and we talked about the film and the script and the role and then it was really quick."
"Bond is the ideal man for Italians. He’s courageous, strong, mysterious, sexy and the perfect English gentleman. Daniel Craig is perfect"
Surely she can talk about Christoph Waltz, who is expected to play legendary returning villain Blofeld?
She says, “Oh yes, what an amazing actor he is. I mean, this cast is really great and to have a chance to be in this new experience, for me it's really amazing."
That's a no on getting anything of substance then. Born in the Italian village of Citta di Castello, Umbria, Bellucci was an only child with a dream of becoming a lawyer. She went to university to study law, modelling on the side to help pay for her course. With her feline features and impressive vital stats, it wasn't long before modelling started bringing in the big cheques to lure her away from her legal studies.
After only a few years of modelling she was spotted in a magazine feature by Italian director DinoRisi who hired her for her first film, a television movie called Vita Coi Figli.
Two years later, another shoot caught the eye of Francis Ford Coppola, who cast her in Bram Stoker's Dracula. She's previously said how the thought of returning to modelling as a career makes her feel sick.
“Oh my God! It's horrible! I felt like a cow that is fullofmilkand nobody will take it," she says. “I felt I don't want to do this shit any more - I want to do films."
Fortunately, her healthy filmography means she has never had to go back.
She got her break in the 1996 French film L'Appartement in which she starred with future husband Vincent Cassel There was the Oscar-nominated Malena, The Matrix franchise (after which she was named one of the planet's most desirable women) and playing Mary ivlagdelene in Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ.
Bellucci married Cassel in 1999 and they had two daughters together, Deva and Leonie.
In 2002 the couple starred - and got naked, a lot - in Gaspar Noe's controversial movie Irreversible, which also featured Bellucci in possibly cinema's most gruesome rape scene. Bellucci split with Cassel in 2013 despite the closeness they showed on camera in Irreversible and said the separation was by “mutual agreement".
Shortly before the split Cassel said, “My wife and I are very different animals."
Despite Bellucci's serene outward appearance, get on the wrong side of her and you'll feel the wrath of her Mediterranean roots. She's fluent in Spanish and French and, as Cassel knows, is able to give you both barrels in any language.
“I may look calm, but I'm not. I'm very agitated. It partly derives from being Italian," she has said.
“Wherever I go, I am Italian. The way I talk, the way I eat, the way femininity is important tome.
“It's about the womanliness that comes to your face and your body from your life."
Photo: FORMING A BOND Bellucci with Spectre cast Naomie Harris, our cover star Lea Seydoux, Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz.
[Source: Loaded, March 2015. P.1,9,58-71. Copyright © Simian Publishing Ltd 2015, all rights reserved. Cover Photo Marcel Hartmann / Contour By Getty Images]