MI6 caught up with Bérénice Marlohe whilst the new Bond girl was in Amsterdam to promote 'Skyfall'...

Bérénice Marlohe Interview (1)

2nd November 2012

Bérénice Marlohe plays the aloof, enigmatic young Séverine, a girl with a dark history. She bears the marks of her work in the Chinese brothels, but has since sought refuge in the arms of the maniacal Silva in the hopes that she could transform her life. In real life, however, Bérénice is a bubbly, enthusiastic young actress who is adapting well to her new-found fame as she co-stars in the 50th anniversary Bond outing, "Skyfall". Whilst in Amsterdam, as part of a Heinken sponsored, exclusive screening of the 23rd Bond adventure, MI6 reporter Ben Williams caught up with the actress to chat about her role in the film.

There seems to be a public perception of what constitutes a typical Bond Girl, but what do you think of when you think of a Bond Girl?
What I really love to play with in general for any characters, is to play with the male and female side, and this is what's very interesting for me when I think about a Bond girl, you know you always have those women entering a casino, so very feminine and glamorous, but at the same time there is something very in charge, like "I'm the man. I'm the boss!" And this is what I really like, the idea of a Bond girl, what I like when I think about a Bond girl.

Above: Bond first spies Séverine in a Shanghai apartment window.

Bérénice, you wear some fantastic costumes in Skyfall. How much were you involved with your costuming for the film?
I was very lucky because I could see the dress before [filming commenced] and I just thought some changes should be done. It was very important because it has to fit also what you had in your imagination regarding the character. I'm very happy with the result because it is exactly what I had in mind - something a bit dangerous and "dragonesque". So also the tattoos and most of all the nails - which were very long and scary - I thought they were fantastic because I really wanted to be a dragon and a panther in this character, and it was really like the continuity of that.

You also wear some incredible jewelry from Swarovski in Skyfall.
They designed a special line for this movie and they are truly beautiful and they were also fitting perfectly what I was expecting [for the character]. There was a little Asian spirit in them. The dragon rings were also really amazing and really gave me a sensation of power. It was… the spirit of Bond movies, and it was exactly what I wanted to translate.

Above: Séverine and handlers deliver a package at Shanhai airport in a scene that was left on the cutting room floor.

In your scene in the Macao floating casino with Daniel Craig, you deliver a very nuanced performance, combining power and strength as well as fear and fragility. Can you describe how you prepared for the scene?
Yes, first of all I used a lot of music. In my life music is very important. Most of all for that scene, because I wanted to stay connected with my imagination at every moment, I used what really moves me as a human being, what brings in me a feeling of indignation or injustice in the world, and I just used some substitutes. So, I had to use real things - like dictators or what happened in Cambodia 37 years ago - I used all that, all that really moves me and that I would like to fight for and that I want to fight for, and I put all of that in that scene.

You've talked before about the different animal elements of your character - the dragon and the panther - can you tell us a little more about that?
I wanted to play on the different faces, different moods, almost different characters in that scene. I connected with the Chimera [Séverine's yacht] that you see in the movie. I didn't know what it was, so I looked it up on line and I saw these pictures of this creature, a mythical Greek creature with three heads - a snake, a dragon, and I wanted to put a black panther for the third head - and this was very interesting for me because I wanted the dragon, I wanted Séverine to have this kind of dangerous presence when she enters the room, and the dragon I liked because it can kill from afar. I wanted to bring the idea that when she would enter, you would feel something a bit instinctive, like an animal would come…I love this idea of working on animals because you don't think anymore. You're not a human anymore; you just connect with your instinct. I really wanted her to have that kind of power when she enters.

Above: Séverine and Bond aboard the Chimera.

Did you look at some of the older Bond films to get some inspiration for the role?
I watched the previous Bonds, the ones I didn't see, just to get inspired by everything, the universe, the music… but definitely not the Bond Girls, because I wanted to create a real human being and a unique character in a unique new story, and this is what is very exciting for me is to create something new, with my own experience and personality, and I think the audience also want to see something a bit different.

Stay tuned to MI6 for part two of the interview. MI6 thanks fellow Bond aficionados Remmert van Braam and Luke Williams for their collaboration and, of course, Heineken for making this round-table interview possible.

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