Back in November 1978, the press grilled actress Lois Chiles on her feminist views and how her Bond girl would be different...

Balancing A Bond Girl Image

7th February 2011


As scantily clad beauties play cribbage and James Bond star Roger Moore lounges in a director's chair smoking a cigar, prop men put the finishing touches on the rubber rocks and plastic stalactites of The Mayan Cave.

"Hollywood is a state of mind," the press agent is saying. "Her hair," a production assistant says. "They're upset about her hair. All morning and all through lunch they've been working on her hair."

This is the set of "Moonraker," the 11th James Bond film extravaganza, and the troublesome hair in question belongs to leading lady Lois Chiles, the newest addition to the 'Bond Girl' subspecies of Hollywood glamour queen. Her hair, which off camera she likes to keep naturally curly, is one problem.

Another is that Lois Chiles is anything but the traditional glamour queen. Her intriguing green eyes delight photographers alright, and she has no trouble filling the bikini of such earlier Bond girls as Pussy Galore and Mary Goodnight.

 

But along with being an actress, Chiles is a serious feminist, an outspoken advocate of womens' rights who prefers meditation and "the important time of being alone" to the clatter and glitter of movie life. Playing the sexpot love object of super-chauvinist, love 'em and leave 'em Bond presents a delicate challenge to her principles. It doesn't help either that this Bond girls is named Holy Goodhead.

"I try to take it all very, very lightly," Ms. Chiles says, taking a break from having her hair ironed out. "Holly Goodhead. I mean it's funny, right? Despite the name, this Bond girl is a departure from the tradition", she says. "She's a strong, intelligent woman and a CIA agent in her own right, so Bond has to take her seriously. I wouldn't have taken the role if she had been the typical Bond girl."

Ms. Chiles, with her tall, high cheek-boned good looks, played Robert Redford's college girlfriend in "The Way We Were" and later won critical acclaim for her portrayal of Daisy Buchanan's mysterious friend Jordan Baker in the Hollywood version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." She completed filming another rich girl starring role in the next Agatha Christie film, "Death On The Nile," before coming here for the Franco-British "Moonraker" production.

With a directness that reflects her smalltown upbringing in Alice, Texas, Ms. Chiles says she feels uncomfortable with the way the movies portray women and the way the film industry - including the Bond production - markets actresses like 'commodities'.

"Hollywood remains in many ways just the way Fitzgerald portrayed it so many years ago in 'The Last Tycoon,'" she says. "Still, I suppose everyone is a commodity to some extent and I have to admit I get a kick out of the way the Bond people all treat me like a princess, having fresh flowers sent to my room all the time. But I know the flowers and all the attention aren't really for me, Lois. They're for whoever happens to be playing the Bond girl at the time."

"The trappings of this business don't interest me. What does interest me is the work part, growing and learning. I just want to be the best actress I can be."

Like many of today's young actresses, Ms. Chiles dreams of playing a realistic role like Jill Clayburgh's in "An Unmarried Woman." "I have so much to learn. Each day I realize there's so much I don't know," she says. "At this point I'm just trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can, and for this the Bond experience has been great."

 

"The Spy Who Loved Me," the most recent Bond film, earned roughly $100 million, according to United Artists officials. The budget for "Moonraker" is near $20m, and officials say Ms. Chiles' salary is "in the six figures". "I don't want to weight myself down with possessions," Ms. Chiles says. "I want to be neuter. I want to be able to adapt to anything, just pick up and go off to India or somewhere if I want and be able to feel open to the experience. This business can be a real high and I don't want to get addicted to the high. I want to feel happy about going back home and washing the dishes."

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