39 years since "Goldfinger" first hit cinema screens, MI6 catches up with Tania Mallet who played Tilly Masterson in the epic Bond adventure...

Tania Mallet Interview
21st September 2003

Tania Mallet made the big jump from being one of the 60's most famous models into an acting role with one of the most famous characters of the 60's - James Bond. 39 years after Goldfinger's release, MI6 caught up with her to talk about her time as Tilly Masterson - the one that got away...

How did you land your role as Tilly Masterson in Goldfinger?
I landed the role as Tilly Masterson in "Goldfinger" after someone sent a photo of me to Cubby Broccoli. I believe it was a picture taken by Henry Clark for Vogue and show’s me lying on some rocks in a bikini.

As one of Britain's most famous models at the time, was it difficult making the transition from modeling to acting for the big screen?
It is always very difficult for models to make the transition form photo stills to moving pictures. The better the model the harder the transition, don’t ask me why! Many girls have tried but very few have succeeded. Lauren Hutton is the only one from my generation that as made it. Even Maud Adams was a far better model than actress although you could say that she ‘made it’ in films notably as the only Bond girl to appear twice.

What was it like working with Sean Connery?
Sean was wonderful to work with a complete professional, humorous, polite and above all remarkably generous to work with.


What are your most cherished memories from the production?
I have many memories as you can imagine, but one of the best was on my first day at Pinewood when I had no idea where I was going let alone what I was meant to be doing - when I bumped into Shirley Eaton and she said “Hi, sis!” It was so friendly and reassuring, from that point I knew everything would be ok.

  Goldfinger was your first and last big screen appearance. After making such an impressive high-profile debut, was it a difficult decision to turn down film offers and focus solely on your modeling career?
It was not difficult to go back to modeling. Filming had been an interesting experience but I was always more comfortable in a small studio with just the photographer and his assistant. Besides which, the restrictions placed on me for the duration of the filming grated, were dreadful and I could not anticipate living my life like that. For instance being forbidden to ride in case I had an accident not being allowed to go abroad etc... Apart from that the money was dreadful - originally I was offered £50 per week which I managed to push up to £150, but even so I earned more than that in a day modeling so the six months I worked (or was retained to work) on Goldfinger were real sacrifice.

Your character Tania was the first really strong female character to appear on screen with Bond. Do you feel the "Bond Girl" characters have evolved over the past 40 years, or have always had the same qualities as the classic 60's films?
I don’t think any of the Bond girls have ever been a push over so I don’t consider I did much more than follow on in the movie. I was however the one that got away….

The mid 1960's saw the height of "Bond fever" with Goldfinger and Thunderball. What was it like to be involved with such a high profile series at that time? What was the publicity and media frenzy like?
To be honest I was not much affected by the media frenzy. I was already well used to photographers pointing their lenses at me and anyway it was all much more civilized in those days. The tacit understanding was that unless you actively sought publicity by going to premiers etc.. you were left alone. Even the public failed too see Tilly Masterson unless I wanted them to by removing my dark glasses and curls - the uniform for busy models in the sixties.

00-Seven Questions

How were you involved in the Bond series?
I played Tilly Masterson in "Goldfinger"

What was your first ever Bond experience?
My first Bond Experience along with millions of others was seeing “Dr. No”

What did you think of the last film, "Die Another Day"?
I have loved all the Bond films and “Die Another Day” is no exception they just get better.

What is your favourite Bond film?
I love all the Bond films and could not pick a favourite.

Who is your favourite Bond?
Of course Sean is my favourite Bond but Pierce Brosnan is a pretty close second.

Which Bond girl should come back?
I don’t think any Bond girl should come back - they should all be different that’s part of the ethos.

What is your favourite Bond moment from the series?
My favourite Bond moment is from Goldfinger when Bond is strapped down to the table when a laser advancing towards him between his spread open legs and he turns to Goldfinger and says:
Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!
It is probably the only time you will see Bond genuinely scared and it is quite unforgettable.

Thanks to Tania Mallet.

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