British actress Gemma Arterton talks about landing
the role of Agent Fields in "Quantum of Solace" and
joining the long line of Bond Girls...
Gemma Arterton Interview
12th November 2008
British actress Gemma
Agent [Strawberry] Fields in "Quantum
of Solace", an MI6
operative stationed at the British consulate in Bolivia.
wrapped, she talked about how she landed the role and what
to join the long and illustrious ranks of Bond
How did you get the part in Quantum of
Well I met the casting directors for another job that I
didn’t get. I was up for a Russian part and it was
such an awful audition I was like ‘this is crap,
isn’t it?’ (laughs) And we laughed about it
and I thought I’d never see them again. And then
I was doing a play at The Globe, Love’s Labour’s
Lost and I was playing quite a haughty type of character
and the same casting directors came to see it. My agent
said ‘you know they are casting the Bond film?’ and
I thought ‘oh God, this is funny after that awful
audition I did for them.’ And I did get called in
for an audition but at that time I didn’t know which
part I was up for. I didn’t think I’d hear
anything but then I was called back for a second time – I
hadn’t actually seen a script at that point, because
it’s all top secret with Bond, so I did a scene from
What happened after that?
I was called back for a screen test with Daniel.
Did you know him?
No, I didn’t. I’d heard a lot about him because we
share an agent. But I first met him at the screen test and I
was nervous and trying to funny and said something that I thought
might break the ice but wasn’t funny. And then I thought ‘oh
no, I’ve lost the job..’ but in the end it worked
in my favour because we got on very well. We share that same
very British sense of humour and wit and that was really nice
when we were on set. I take the piss out of him all the time
and he loves it and he takes the piss out of me (laughs). We
got on really well and that worked so well for the characters.
And with Daniel it’s nice to have someone so grounded and
down to Earth involved with something so huge like that. He’s
such a lovely guy.
Who did you call first when you knew you’d
won the part?
I sent out this huge text message to my family and close friends
but the thing was, I asked my agent ‘am I allowed to tell
anyone?’ Because it was all top secret. I did tell my mum
and dad but I was like ‘don’t tell anyone!’ But
obviously it got about and then we had the St Trinian’s
premier the next week and people were coming up to me and asking ‘is
it true you are in the Bond movie?’ But we did try and
keep it under wraps, which was hard because you want to shoot
it from the rooftops because you’re so pleased.
What was Mum and Dad’s reaction?
Well with Bond it’s mad because everybody knows it. With other parts I’ve
been so excited to get them and they say ‘oh that’s great’ but
because they don’t know what the story is they weren’t quite as excited
as I was. But with Bond they were just so happy for me and they still are amazed
and quite bewildered by it, too. Because you never think you are going to end
up in anything like that but they are absolutely thrilled for me.
What was the preparation like?
Olga Kurylenko (who
plays Camille) does all
of the action stuff. My character is an MI6 agent but she’s
more of a Miss Moneypenny type of character, she is kind of office
prudish and priggish but she has a twinkle in her eye and she
is cheeky and charming. She is kind of the antidote to the
action and provides a bit of comedy. There’s some lovely
banter between her and Bond. I think she’s a typically
Ian Fleming type of character.
And does your character get intimate with Bond?
She does, yeah. She has a bit of canoodling with him! (laughs).
A bit of a smooch. And that was another surreal moment in my
life, I’ll tell you.
The filming took in some exotic locations. Did you get to visit
any of these places?
Some of my stuff was at Pinewood Studios and then I was in Panama
for about a month because my character meets Bond in Bolivia
and we used Panama for Bolivia. Panama is a weird but fascinating
place. It’s developing and there are areas where there
is huge wealth with these amazing properties and they are next
to areas that are very poor, so that was quite weird. And when
we were there, there were riots and workers striking and guns
going off and people getting shot and all sorts of things. And
also it was very humid, quite oppressive and dusty and that was
really great for the film, but when you are out in that intense
heat it can be tiring. But we had such a laugh out there. I loved
it. My attitude is to turn up and do it and not take myself too
seriously because then I can enjoy it. And I think it worked
for my character, because there is a fun aspect to her, she is
fun and cheeky and that wouldn’t have worked if I’d
been too nervous.
So your ethos is ‘just do it’ and
not over analyse it?
Absolutely. And you can’t with a character like that – she is what
she is, she is funny, she is a Bond girl and there was nothing to worry about,
really. The only thing I was worried about was other people thinking ‘can
she do it?’ But then you just have to show them, don’t you. And it
was great – a good laugh.
Have you grown up watching the Bond films over the years?
Yes I have although I’ve never been like a die-hard fan and I was brought
up in a house full of women so it was never a huge thing for us. But I always
remember the look of them and the iconic images from the films. And they seemed
to be on a lot – they were part of our lives growing up. And you always
see those fantastic images in the magazines and they are timeless. And then
I saw the last two Pierce Brosnan films in the cinema and I saw Daniel in "Casino
Royale" in the cinema as well – so I started to watch them properly
then. I actually sought them out as opposed to them being on TV.
What did you think of Casino Royale?
I really loved Casino. I went to see it with two guys, friends,
and they were a bit pessimistic about it at first – probably
because Daniel had a really fit body and they were a bit jealous
(laughs). I think guys have this thing, they either want to
be James Bond or they don’t like him because he gets
the women and he is so cool and clever. And I remember sitting
there thinking ‘this is brilliant, this is a brilliant
film.’ I was so impressed and then when I got the part
I was thrilled – it’s a brilliant time to be in
a Bond film. I think they did a fantastic job with Casino – the
film stands alone, you don’t need to know anything about
the history and it had so much to it, with the love story and
everything. And the guys I went to the cinema with absolutely
loved it as well.
Do you think that being in Quantum of Solace has already had
an effect on your career?
I think it helped with getting my name about, definitely. I think
people sit up and pay attention and go ‘oh OK..’ I
got quite a lot of work before that but I think Bond makes people
What sort of clothes does your character wear in Quantum?
I’m glamorous but I don’t think I’m hot glamorous.
There was this thing with my character where we wanted to make
her really retro and a bit of a throwback. I can’t reveal
her first name yet but it’s typically Fleming and quite
cheeky and a little bit tongue in cheek. So she wears a typical
Mac (raincoat) and yet in one scene she hasn’t got anything
on underneath (laughs). We tried to make her straight laced but
with a real naughty edge to her. She has this mad hair do which
looks like I’ve done myself. I wanted her to look kind
of clumsy but with a lot more going on beneath the surface. I
think the thing about her is that she is desperately trying to
be proper and correct but doesn’t quite succeed so she
looks a bit odd (laughs). And she looks a bit dishevelled.
Did you have some input in creating the way she looks?
Yes, along with the costume department. When I was approaching the character,
working out what I was going to bring to her, I felt that in the past some
of the Bond girls were such strong characters that you didn’t feel you
could actually know somebody like that in real life and therefore you can’t
connect with them. So I wanted my character to be a girl from down the road
who does this job – we don’t know exactly what she does but she
goes to work every day - and comes back and she goes down the pub at the weekend
and has a drink. You’d have a chat with her and at first you might think
she was a bit of a snooty bitch but she’s actually quite nice when you
get to know her. And I wanted to make her real. She’s not hot but I hope
there’s a charm to her. I’m not sure whether she’ll be the
Bond girl who the boys pin up on their walls but they might say ‘I don’t
know what it is about that Agent Fields, but I quite fancy her!’ She’s
the thinking man’s crumpet. (laughs).
What have you done since finishing Bond?
I did a BBC production (mini series) Tess of the D’Urbervilles and played
Tess, which was just brilliant. It was so nice to do something like that because
obviously my part in Bond was huge fun but quite straight forward and obviously
Tess was quite a contrast – a huge, massive, fully rounded emotional
journey I had to go on so it was nice to throw myself into that. And then I
did a Richard Curtis film called The Boat That Rocked – it was only a
fleeting cameo really but it was nice. I like to vary things and every part
I do is very different so it was nice to throw that in as well. And obviously
I’ve just started working on Prince of Persia, which is huge. It’s
a 20 week shoot and we film in Morocco and we finish up in Pinewood again.
"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" is
the blockbuster produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring
a big film – you’re on a roll.
I can’t believe all of this is happening – it’s
mad stuff! (laughs). I’ve been in Madrid learning to horse
ride for the last few weeks and then back in London for some
training. It’s an action romance – a bit like Indiana
Jones meets Gladiator! It’s set in the 6th century so there
are lots of Sinbad style costumes, which I love. And it has a
great cast, with Jake and Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina and
a fantastic director, Mike Newell, so I think it’s going
to be great. I’m very excited. I’m the only girl
in the whole thing. I’m the hot totty in it – which
freaks me out! (laughs) I can’t believe I’m going
to be the girl who has to get the bums on seats. But since Bond
it’s been crazy.
Do people recognise you more now?
No, not really and I think a big part of that is that first of
all 80 per cent of what I’ve done hasn’t been released
yet and I look so different in all of them that I don’t
even recognise myself. In Bond, I’ve got red hair and
pale skin and in Tess I’ve got hair down to my waist.
I like doing different accents and playing totally different
characters - that’s part of the fun of the job. I don’t
really see myself when I’m on screen and that’s
nice because people don’t really see ‘you’ and
I can walk down the street I can get on the tube, get the bus
and have my life. I think in England it’s different anyway,
I think people mostly leave you alone and I sort of hope that
it stays like that.
Who is your favourite Bond?
Oh definitely Daniel. I do love Sean Connery but I just think
Daniel is so good and he’s our Bond, isn’t he?
By that, I mean, he’s the perfect Bond for this time.
He’s a brilliant actor and fantastic in the part. And
it’s great working with someone who is a proper actor.
He really is such a bloody brilliant actor and he makes things
work and he makes them real and it’s really nice to work
So Quantum was a good experience?
Yes it was. And everyone made it so memorable for me. It’s
like a big family on set and everyone is so excited to be working
on a Bond movie so there is such a good vibe. And the producers
are lovely and are constantly looking after you. The film is
so important to them, they are keepers of the flame, and it’s
a family thing for them, too.
Marc Forster is an interesting choice to
direct a Bond film, don’t you think?
He was absolutely brilliant. He is so chilled out. I think he
was a great choice to direct this. His work has been so varied – every
film he does is different so you can’t put him in a box
as a director because he can do so many different things and
that’s exciting. When I was working on the film he just
trusted me to do things with the role, he let me play around
and be funny with the character and I think that’s quite
something and very admirable when you are working on such a big
film like this, to be so playful with it and chilled and to say ‘maybe
Gemma’s humour will add something good to this.’ is
just fantastic. He never shows any signs of stress and he just
let it flow. He trusts that you are good enough to do your job
and he will give you a little note here and there. I think he
has done a great job with the acting, the look of it, everything
has been thought through and he has really made it into his own
film. He’s great.
Thanks to Sony Pictures Releasing UK.