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Unshaken & Stirring
Scott Huver | Photo: Photography by John Russo | November 28, 2012
Bond girl Bérénice Marlohe is licensed to thrill.
Skyfall actress Bérénice Marlohe made a great impression as the enigmatic Sévérine, a classic Bond girl femme fatale with a heart of gold. But she might have made a formidable secret agent herself: It’s not every relatively unknown Parisian ingenue who can land a starring role in a beloved 50-year-old film franchise by tracking down the project’s creative team on Facebook.
After years of watching dream roles slip through her fingers, thanks to less-than-effective agents, the 33-year-old actress took matters into her own hands. “It’s [my] own life and destiny,” she says simply. “I couldn’t bear waiting for someone to give me an audition that would never come.” After a trip to Hollywood, she found herself back in Paris, waiting for an American work visa—and learned that a new 007 adventure was in the making. “A friend told me, ‘You should try to do that, because it’s you.’ I really believe in signs, and I felt very strongly connected with the freedom in the Bond universe—it’s a world of imagination! I thought: This is the moment I don’t want to miss. If there are people who will understand my universe, it’s the Bond people.”
She scoured the Internet, including Facebook—admittedly, it would be hard to resist friending the exotic beauty—and sent her acting reel to any name associated with Skyfall, until she finally found the casting director’s email. Five days later, she auditioned in Paris, which led to reading scenes opposite current 007 Daniel Craig for director Sam Mendes. Soon after, the part was hers.
The fact that she’d be playing opposite Javier Bardem (who plays Bond’s slick nemesis Raoul Silva) was not lost on Marlohe. The night she decided to claim the role by any means necessary, she dreamt of the swarthy Spanish actor. “When I woke up, I had this deep feeling of peace and quiet, as if the universe told me: Go in that direction—this is the right one,” says Marlohe. One year later, after she’d scored the part, she was informed that Bardem was joining the Skyfall cast. “This was one of a lot of signs that I had in my life.”
Marlohe admits that, despite being the latest in a long lineage of 007’s playmates, she’s resisted trying to encapsulate five decades of iconography. “I never took inspiration from any Bond girls because I just wanted to forget that [Sévérine] was a Bond girl,” she explains. “I wanted to create a real human being with a complexity... You create a real character, and, then, the audience will know you’re a Bond girl.” Currently single, she’s yet to truly test the effects of her new Bond girl credentials on her male admirers. “I’ve been so much into promotion [of Skyfall], that I haven’t had time to go outside and see the behavior of people.”
Recently, Marlohe packed up her apartment in Paris and began the process of moving to Hollywood, a place she’s looking forward to immensely—despite being slightly apprehensive about the traffic and the fact that she has yet to obtain a driver’s license. “You really can sense that you can do things [in Hollywood], and you don’t have to know people,” she says. “It’s just about work and believing in your dreams, and things can happen.”
She’s also in production for Terrence Malick’s latest untitled film, starring alongside Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman. Marlohe eventually hopes to break from the sex-siren mold to play charismatic nut-jobs: Her out-there acting role models include Christopher Walken, Benicio Del Toro, Gary Oldman, Gena Rowlands and Nicole Kidman. “I have a big tenderness for psychopaths,” she offers, citing Heath Ledger’s Joker portrayal as one of her all-time favorite performances. “He was just phenomenal and so free and brilliant. These are the kinds of fantasies I have.”
And if all continues to go well, she won’t have to Google her way into those psychotic dream roles. “Too much work!” she says, laughing, having secured reliable representation. “I’m happy that I’ve got real agents that get me auditions.”