Berenice Marlohe Talks SKYFALL, Playing a Femme Fatale/Bond Girl, How She Was Cast, and More

     May 1, 2012


In every James Bond movie, there is always an insanely attractive woman cast to play the so called “Bond Girl.”  In director Sam Mendes, Skyfall, the 23rd Bond movie currently filming in Istanbul, Turkey, she’s being played by French actress Berenice Marlohe.  And after speaking with her on Sunday afternoon with a small group of reporters, I can say that the role has been perfectly cast.

During the interview, Marlohe revealed what she could about her character, how the script changed since being cast, her thoughts on being a “Bond girl,” what kind of training she went through before filming began, if she plays a lethal femme fatale, her costumes, how she got cast, and more.  Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.

As usual, I’m offering you two ways to get this interview: you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below.  Skyfall opens October 26 in the UK and November 9 in the US.

Berenice-Marlohe-Skyfall-James-BondQuestion:  Could you talk about how much of the movie and your character has changed from when you first got the script to now?

Berenice Marlohe: Well what’s interesting is that you read the script, and then you get to play it in real circumstances.  So it’s interesting to see this ability of everybody—Sam, Daniel, etc.—to not be afraid to change some things from the script when you see that when you’re on set in the real circumstances, something else is going to work better.  This is part of being a professional, actually.  So then you do your work, regarding the script and your perception of the character and the scene, and then what’s interesting is that once you’ve done your job, what will appear on the screen is none of your business anymore because the editing, the music, and the story they want to tell could be completely different from what you had in mind.  So I’m very curious of seeing the final result of all that, after initially reading the script.

Within the bounds of what you’re allowed to tell us, can you talk about your character?

Marlohe:  Well we have used, previously, glamorous and enigmatic.  Enigmatic is important for me because I really want her—and the script is made in this manner too—to not be obvious.  You can’t put her in an obvious field like you could before, saying she’s a good girl, a bad girl, a Bond girl.  So she’s complex, like Daniel did for James Bond.  He built something with different colors that could seem opposite, like very tough but very vulnerable, human but sometimes very cold like a snake, a killing machine.  This is what is finally interesting to see on screen as an audience member, and I really want to do that with her, give her the most complexity possible so that she’s not obvious to you.

Talk a little bit about how you decided with the costume department what you wanted to wear, what they wanted you to wear, and how you did you compromise?

Marlohe: We worked together with the costume department, and what’s great about James Bond movies is that you can find this femme fatale concept that you don’t see anymore in movies.  We’re losing a bit, unfortunately.  Yes, you see women in bikinis but it’s not the classy, femme fatale concept that we had to get before.  So the clothes are very glamorous and made in a femme fatale mood; very sexy and dark.

skyfall-movie-image-daniel-craigWhy are the French women the femme fatales these days? What’s the secret of these beautiful French women being dangerous?

Marlohe: I have no idea (laughs).  I’m 50% Asian actually, so yes I was born in Paris but I feel more international than French so I can’t talk about French women.  I don’t think this is glued to a nationality, so—yeah I don’t know why they’re French.  Because they’re fitting certain specific demands on a specific movie on a specific time, so they got what they’re looking for so sometimes it’s landing on French women.

What’s your nationality in the film?

Marlohe: She’s not French (laughs).

So she doesn’t have an accent?

Marlohe: No (laughs).

What makes Daniel sexy?

naomie-harris-skyfall-imageMarlohe: What you see on magazines is very boring, because it’s cold and most of the time it doesn’t have charisma.  What’s very important is personality and what you have to say, because then it’s the magical aura you spread; it’s your personality.  So when I got to meet him finally, he had such a beautiful humanity, very grounded, very nice personality, sense of humor, truly a great person.  So this is what makes someone sexy or attractive.

Do you like that you’re a Bond girl? Do you want to own that?

Marlohe: You know, honestly, I see her like a unique character in a unique movie more than a Bond girl.  Because when I think Bond girl, for me it’s very abstract; it’s a kind of label.  It has meaning, but it’s not speaking to me, it has no resonance.  So I really see her as a unique character that I have to build and give life to, putting away the Bond girl thing.

Did you have to go through as much hardcore training as some of the other guys?

Marlohe: I don’t have action scenes as much as Naomie, but I asked to train with guns.  First of all, it’s a very interesting discipline; I see it like Tai Chi because you have to focus and calm down.  And it gives you this sensation of power when you have to focus and fire, and I felt that it was very interesting me to do that just to feed my character.  So I trained with guns.

Does think there’s something a bit uncomfortable about the fact that you get such a sensation of power from wielding guns around?

Marlohe: In real life it means that you’re in danger, or there’s something dramatic about that.  But for a movie it is very interesting, I really like that actually.  It’s like meditation, you have to be focused and reach something.

What’s your favorite weapon?

Marlohe: Oh I’m very bad with names (laughs)

You never actually answered my question about how many different outfits you have in the film, or what is it exactly that you’re wearing?

Marlohe: There are some more casual but very feminine, sexy things.  There is one extremely theatrical and spectacular, extremely glamorous and femme fatale outfit.  It’s completely surreal, you never see it in movies.  There are some more—you know in Hitchcock movies, very classy women? We play with several outfits.

Has your character traveled all around the world?

Marlohe: I have been many places.

james-bond-skyfall-movie-image-daniel-craig-01So you filmed in China and all these other places?

Marlohe: Yeah, yeah.

Did you enjoy any one place more than the others?

Marlohe: They all have their unique charm.  For instance, I had never been to Istanbul before and it’s a very interesting mixture of ancestral architecture and it’s amazing.  When I was in the bazaar, you see this wonderful architecture and you feel the power of the past, and then you see the TV’s.  It’s very science fiction-y and very interesting.  And Shanghai is amazing.  I’m a fan of science fiction so when you’re there in the night with all the lights and all this modernity, it’s like a set in a movie.  And because I’m half Asian too, it was great to be connected to my Asian side too.

Earlier you said you were gonna be a femme fatale, are you gonna be a lethal femme fatale?

Marlohe: I hope so, yeah (laughs).

skyfall-sam-mendes-movie-image-set-photoIs this something that you’re gonna continue doing, Hollywood films?  Or are you gonna go back to France and make more French movies?

Marlohe: For years I wanted to have my break in France, actually, to be able to work outside in Asia and the States and London.  Because I was born in France, I thought it was my way of reaching that, but finally France didn’t want me (laughs).  But I did it!  So yes, I will go on with English and Asian projects.

Are you enjoying the action side of things?  Will you continue on that path?

Marlohe: Well, they could be very interesting.  I really like to fight and so this is very funny.  It’s like dance, you feel like a child when you have to fight with someone, I really like that.  But not only [action movies]; I would love to do comedies and I would love to do maybe dramas.  I’m very passionate about art, music, drawing, acting, so I’d like to have the chance to get the larger choice regarding acting.

james-bond-skyfall-movie-image-daniel-craig-01How did you get the part in Skyfall?

Marlohe: Well as I said in France I didn’t get auditions, and it’s very difficult to get an agent in France because they conduct the business in a strange way.  They would ask you, “Who do you know?  Who are your relationships? What producers do you know?” You said, “No,” and they said, “Okay, come back later when you know everybody.” (laughs). So finally I heard about this audition and I always felt connected to the James Bond movies, because I knew as it’s between reality and fiction that I would have the opportunity to be given the freedom to enjoy creating something colorful and that I would not be limited.  So I tried to find the name of the people involved in the project on the Internet or by sending my stuff, and finally I managed to find [casting director] Debbie McWilliams email and I sent her my reel and it started from there.  She really liked my work and I got to meet Sam and did the auditions with him, he saw my previous tapes and then I met Daniel.  So yeah this is the fruit of working a lot (laughs).

Is it true that there were two actors in the running for your character and one was a Spanish actor?

Marlohe: I have no idea. I don’t think so, no.

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