After years of building her career on French television, Bérénice Marlohe has now hit international stardom with her role as the sultry Bond girl Séverine in "Skyfall."
The daughter of a French mother and Cambodian/Chinese father, her exotic look is tailor-made for the franchise that loves its women tall, dark and sexy. In the film she not only gets to share a steamy shower scene with Daniel Craig but also swap spit with Javier Bardem, who plays the film's villain.
Here we chat with the lovely Marlohe about the disadvantages of being a Bond girl and why Facebook stalking sometimes has its advantages.
Were you familiar with the Bond films before auditioning?
Yes. I feel I've been connected to the Bond universe for a long time. For me they are like cartoons in how powerful they are in terms of imagination and originality. I also felt a connection with the music, I respond a lot to music. A lot of people for many years would tell me, "Oh, you should be a Bond girl," so when I heard they were doing auditions for "Skyfall" I searched out for the contacts of the people involved in the casting. I managed to find Sam Mendes' agent on Facebook.
You Facebook-stalked Mendes' agent?
[Laughs] Yeah. I sent my reel everywhere and finally I got to meet the casting director and then I met Sam and then Daniel. So it was a long process and I felt that the long process I had in France of auditioning for roles for years really prepared me for this. So when Sam told me I was chosen, I was really peaceful. Like a feeling that everything was going the way they had to be. A big feeling of peace.
Do you have a favorite Bond girl?
One that I remember particularly is Famke Janssen in "GoldenEye" because she was very funny and had a great confidence and I loved that in an actor, to take risks and create something unconventional or funny. So she's the one I think of the most.
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How are the Bond films portrayed in France? Are they as big as here or England?
Yes. People really love it. You grew up on the Bond films because they were always on TV. I think the first one I saw was "A View to a Kill" with Christopher Walken and Grace Jones.
Did it take time to build chemistry with Daniel Craig?
I felt comfortable from the beginning. I had a lot of laughs with Daniel and Sam right away. It was amazing because you have to try to forget what the stakes are and just act when you're auditioning, and having a comfort with them really helped. I felt safe.
You have a playful yet powerful scene in the casino scene with Craig in the movie. Did you do a lot of variations of the scene?
We spent three days for that scene. But not only the moment when we're at the bar, but every shot for the sequence was different actually. It was great to play across a great actor like Daniel because it's full of surprises and you work moment to moment.
You also have a scene with Javier Bardem. Who's more down-to-earth off-screen, Bardem or Craig?
They were both like that. That is what I liked. I feel that talent comes with humility and it was just the case for both of them. They are very grounded and very funny. Of course, I had more scenes with Daniel so I got to know him better.
Has your life changed since becoming a Bond girl?
Of course. The main positive change for me is now I have an agent. [Laughs] After years and years. I have received very interesting scripts and this is a new thing for me. It's very exciting.
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What's the negative change?
What's very strange is you realize how some people are very passionate with these characters and the films and to see that some people judge you right away before they have seen you perform. To state if you will be a good actor or not, it's immediate judgment and it's strange. This is what is disturbing for me.
What will we see you in next?
I have two American independent movies coming up. The big fantasy I've had as an actor for a long time is to portray the characters that are usually portrayed by a male. So thanks to this movie I will have the opportunity to do that.
Mac or PC?
Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?
Beer or wine?
I don't drink a lot but maybe a little bit of wine with good cheese.
Rock or rap?
Crepes or French Fries?