The Bond Girls Who Made It Big

Image for The Bond Girls Who Made It Big

It used to be seen as a bit of a curse. A role as a Bond girl in the action-man franchise seldom led to a stellar career for the actress who took it. Sure, there might be some exotic travel for filming and sure, you’d be fitted for a really nice bikini, but soon the train would break down and you’d be back to casting calls and modelling work. There have been some, however, particularly post-‘90s, who broke that mould and went on to transcend the stereotype. As one of them, Rosamund Pike, stars in the new David Fincher film Gone Girl, here are ten who escaped the Bond girl typecasting.

Diana Rigg

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Role: Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo. Her father, gangster Marc-Ange Draco, is concerned about his troubled daughter, and gets Bond to agree to romance her in exchange for information about Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Uniquely for Bond, the romance of convenience becomes something more. Tracy is the only ever Mrs. Bond – however brief the marriage.

Best Bond Girl Line: “Why do you persist in rescuing me, Mr Bond?”

Prior To Bond: Rigg was already known for Bond-ish TV adventures as The Avengers’ iconic Mrs. Emma Peel. She had also had an accomplished theatre career, including a five-year stint at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

After Bond: Rigg stayed busy in the ‘60s and ‘70s with films like Theatre Of Blood (with Vincent Price) and Evil Under The Sun (with Peter Ustinov). In the ‘80s she played Regan to Laurence Olivier’s King Lear on TV, and in the ‘90s she fronted The Mrs Bradley Mysteries on the BBC and won an Emmy as Mrs. Danvers in ITV’s Rebecca. She was recently in Doctor Who episode The Crimson Horror, took a one-woman show to the Edinburgh Festival and can currently be seen in Game of Thrones playing the coolly devious Lady Olenna “Queen of Thorns” Tyrell (pictured above).

Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour

Film: Live And Let Die (1973)

Role: Solitaire, the psychic tarot expert in the employ of Mr. Big. Her powers only work while she’s a virgin, which causes problems when she fails to resist the raised eyebrow of Roger Moore.

Best Bond Girl Line: [After taking some “instruction” from Bond] “Is there time before we leave for lesson number three?”

Prior To Bond: Seymour’s first film role was in Richard Attenborough’s Oh! What A Lovely War in 1969, and she played her first lead in The Only Way in 1970. Her breakout was on TV in the BBC’s popular drama series The Onedin Line.

After Bond: Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger followed immediately, and she starred as Twelve Colonies news reporter Serina in the Battlestar Galactica film and the first few episodes of the TV series. In the ‘80s she starred with Christopher Reeve in Somewhere in Time; won a Golden Globe for the TV Steinbeck adaptation East of Eden; and took the female lead in the 12-part epic War And Remembrance. She won a second Golden Globe during her five years and 150 episode stint (plus two TV movies) as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on CBS. Since then she’s made regular guest star appearances in the likes of Smallville, Wedding Crashers, How I Met Your Mother and Marple. She also has sidelines as a writer and a model.

Famke Janssen

Famke Janseen

Film: GoldenEye (1995)

Role: Janus Crime Syndicate henchwoman / assassin Xenia Onatopp, working with rogue '00' agent Alec Trevelyan. She derives sexual pleasure from killing and has a nifty strangulation move with her thighs.

Best Bond Girl Line: “Once again, Mr Bond, the pleasure was all yours.”

Prior To Bond: A former model fronting campaigns for Yves St Laurent, Victoria’s Secret and Chanel, Janssen started acting in TV roles including appearances on Melrose Place and Star Trek: The Next Generation (she was offered the part of Jadzia Dax in Deep Space Nine but turned it down). Her first film role was in Fathers And Sons with Jeff Goldblum, and just before GoldenEye she appeared in Clive Barker’s horror Lord Of Illusions.

After Bond: The rest of the ‘90s saw her doggedly avoiding Bond girl typecasting, working with Woody Allen in Celebrity, Robert Altman in The Gingerbread Man and Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty. Then, of course, there was X-Men in 2000, where she first played Dr. Jean Grey. She reprised the role four times, most recently with a brief turn in this year’s Days Of Future Past. She also squeezed in a season of Nip/Tuck and the Taken films (pictured above). She directs too: her debut behind the camera was 2011’s Bringing Up Bobby, starring Milla Jovovich.

Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh

Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Role: Colonel Wai Lin, a Chinese spy initially competing with Bond on the case of world-dominating media baron Elliot Carver. Later they decide to join forces, because East-West détente is a beautiful thing.

Best Bond Girl Line: “Don’t get any ideas, Mr Bond.” (He does).

Prior To Bond: The former Miss Malaysia made her film debut in Sammo Hung’s acton comedy Mao Tou Ying Yu Xiaofei Xiang (aka The Owl Vs. Bombo) in 1984, and more kick-assery followed until she briefly retired. She made her comeback in Police Story 3: Supercop in 1992, starring with Jackie Chan, followed by a dozen other martial arts epics in the ensuing four years.

After Bond: Ang Lee’s wuxia masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000 was an immediate international hit, but she put the fighting aside for Memoirs Of A Geisha, Sunshine and The Lady (pictured above), in which she played Aung San Suu Kyi for Luc Besson. She also showed up in The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor, and returned to China for Reign Of Assassins and Yuen Woo-Ping’s True Legend. She voiced The Soothsayer in Kung-Fu Panda 2, and is currently filming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Green Destiny, again with Woo-Ping.

Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher

Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Role: Paris Carver, duplicitous wife of villain Elliot Carver and former squeeze of spy James Bond.

Best Bond Girl Line: “I used to look in the papers every day for your obituary.”

Prior To Bond: Bit parts in the likes of The Love Boat, MacGyver, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seinfeld and Quantum Leap lead to her breakout as Lois Lane for four years of The New Adventures Of Superman.

After Bond: Hatcher trod water in films like Spy Kids, 2 Days In The Valley and Heaven’s Prisoners for a few years, until she found a second massive television success on Desperate Housewives in 2004 (pictured). She became one of the highest paid actresses in America, although her on-set relationships with her co-stars were reportedly often fractious. She also voiced both Mothers in Coraline and Dottie in Pixar’s Planes movies, and made a Superman return in Smallville playing Lois’ mother Ella Lane.

Sophie Marceau

Sophie Marceau

Film: The World is Not Enough (1999)

Role: Elektra King, an oil magnate who seems to be in Stockholm Syndrome thrall to pain-immune terrorist Renard, but who actually has rather more going on...

Best Bond Girl Line: “You don’t take no for an answer, do you?”

Prior To Bond: Marceau made her film debut in Claude Pinoteau’s La Boom in 1980, aged just 14. She went on to star with Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve in 1984’s Fort Saganne, and worked with Depardieu again in Catherine Breillat’s Police. In the ‘90s she tried her hand at some lighter fare like Pacific Palisades, Fanfan and D' Artagnan’s Daughter, and made her international breakthrough in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart in 1995.

After Bond: She immediately returned to France for Fidelity, and has pretty much stayed there excepting a turn for Rob Reiner in 2003’s Alex & Emma. She starred in Female Agents, LOL, Happiness Never Comes Alone and Arrest Me, and co-starred with Monica Bellucci in Don’t Look Back. She also wrote a novel, Menteuse, and directed Speak To Me Of Love and Trivial. Her most recent film is Tonie Marshall’s The Missionaries.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry

Film: Die Another Day (2002)

Role: Jinx, an NSA agent who gives Bond a run for his money in the action stakes.

Best Bond Girl Line: [Questioning Bond’s cover story] “Ornithologist eh? Now there’s a mouthful.”

Prior To Bond: A former Miss Teen All America and Miss Ohio, Berry was a model in Chicago in the late ‘80s, and moved to New York to pursue acting in the early ‘90s. She did some television (Knots Landing, Who’s the Boss?) before making her film debut in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. After that there was Boomerang with Eddie Murphy, The Last Boy Scout with Bruce Willis, The Flintstones with John Goodman, Losing Isaiah with Jessica Lange, and Executive Decision with Kurt Russell. She played Storm in X-Men, and won an Oscar in 2002 for Monster’s Ball, making her the first Bond girl with an Academy Award.

After Bond: A mooted Jinx spin-off never happened, but there were, of course, more X-Men, including this year’s Days Of Future Past (pictured). Immediately post-DAD Berry starred in the disappointing Sam Raimi-produced horror-thriller Gothika (with Robert Downey Jr.), and then stumbled badly with the disastrous Catwoman. She came back with dramas Perfect Stranger (with Bruce Willis again) and Things We Lost In The Fire, and won a Golden Globe for Frankie And Alice in 2010. She’s since appeared in some quite pedestrian thrillers (Dark Tide, The Call), but balanced them with the enormous likes of DOFP and the Wachowskis’ Cloud Atlas. She’s currently appearing in CBS’s sci-fi drama series Extant.

Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike

Film: Die Another Day (2002)

Role: Miranda Frost, a double agent who turns out to be working for both MI6 and North Korea.

Best Bond Girl Line: “I know all about you: sex for dinner, death for breakfast.”

Prior To Bond: Pike started acting professionally while still a student at Oxford. She appeared on stage in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, and had TV roles in A Rather English Marriage, Wives And Daughters, Love In A Cold Climate and Foyle’s War. Die Another Day was her first job after graduating.

After Bond: Eclectic work followed, from period pieces Pride And Prejudice and The Libertine to psych-thriller Fracture, dramas Fugitive Pieces and An Education, and Rock-starring video-game action movie Doom. She returned to the stage for productions of Hedda Gabler and Gaslight; goofed off with Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Reborn, and played warrior Queen Andromeda in Wrath Of The Titans. She starred with Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher and Simon Pegg in The World’s End and Hector And The Search For Happiness. And then, of course, there’s David Fincher’s Gone Girl (pictured).

Eva Green

Eva Green

Film: Casino Royale (2006)

Role: Vesper Lynd, a treasury agent sent to supervise Bond, but who is also being strong-armed and coerced by Le Chiffre and the mysterious organisation behind him.

Best Bond Girl Line: “You think of women as disposable pleasures, rather than meaningful pursuits. So as charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government's money and off your perfectly-formed arse.”

Prior To Bond: Green made her startling film debut in 2002, baring all for Bernardo Bertolucci in The Dreamers. Ridley Scott then cast her in Kingdom Of Heaven as Sibylla of Jerusalem, sidelining her in the theatrical cut but restoring her in the extended version.

After Bond: Following the BAFTA and Empire Awards, Green moved onto The Golden Compass as the good witch Serafina Pekkala. Moving away from blockbusters she then starred in the off-kilter trio of Franklyn, Cracks and Womb, and played Morgan le Fay for ten episodes of Starz’s Camelot. Then came Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, and, most recently, a brace of Frank Miller adaptations in 300: Rise Of An Empire and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.

Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton

Film: Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Role: Agent Fields (the end credits reveal that her first name is Strawberry), an MI6 “office worker” at the British consulate in Bolivia.

Best Bond Girl Line: [Post-coitus] “Do you have any idea how angry I am at myself?”

Prior To Bond: After some early stage work, Arterton debuted in St Trinians in 2007, as sexpot Kelly Jones. She then played Tess in a four-part BBC Tess Of The D’Urbervilles and showed up in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla.

After Bond: She boarded The Boat That Rocked and donned Kelly’s stockings again for St. Trinians 2. She then alternated small and large projects, slotting The Disappearance Of Alice Creed and Tamara Drewe (based on the Posy Simmonds graphic novel) around Clash Of The Titans and Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. She played vampire Clara in Neil Jordan’s Byzantium (pictured), Gretel in Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters, and Affleck’s moll Rebecca in Runner Runner. She starred with Ryan Reynolds in The Voices, and we last saw her as the lead in another Simmons adaptation, Gemma Bovary. She’s due on stage soon in the musical version of Made In Dagenham, following another sell-out stage run in The Duchess Of Malfi.