Tuesday 17 September 2019

Tanya Sweeney: 'It's about time we introduced the new Bond, Jane Bond'

Modern Life

Actress Lashana Lynch could take on the 007 codename (Ian West/PA)
Actress Lashana Lynch could take on the 007 codename (Ian West/PA)

Tanya Sweeney

We've had a few gender-flip films of late, with varying degrees of success. Headed by Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, Ghostbusters breathed new life into the much-loved 80s franchise, while Oceans 8 was a sexy and stylish reboot of the blokey original. On the other end of the spectrum, What Men Want was a bit of a damp squib.

In any case, former Bond star Pierce Brosnan has said he'd like nothing more than to see one of Hollywood's most enduring roles passed to an actress. Speculation is mounting on who might take over the role of the super-spy now that dashing Daniel Craig is waiting to depart the franchise. Navan-born Brosnan notes that a female heir apparent would be "exciting" and "exhilarating".

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"I think we've watched the guys do it for the last 40 years. Get out of the way guys and put a woman up there," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

It could be argued that Bond producers are testing the waters with the casting of Lashana Lynch in the next Bond blockbuster.

Ruth Negga. Photo: Getty Images
Ruth Negga. Photo: Getty Images

The promising British actor has been cast as 007, who is based on a real-life British spy and hero. The character, called Nomi, is taking over the secret agent number that Bond has been famous for since 1953.

It's been reported that Craig is still very much reprising his role as Bond, but the 25th film will open with him, effectively retired in Jamaica, being called back into action for one last wheeze at fighting villains.

Charlize Theron. Photo: WireImage
Charlize Theron. Photo: WireImage

And when you think about it, why can't James Bond become… well, Jane Bond? As we've seen from Killing Eve, Le Femme Nikita, The Night Manager and Homeland, female spies are every bit as cunning, calculating and watchable as their male counterparts.

Earlier this year, Red Joan was based on the remarkable real-life story of Joan Stanley (Judi Dench), the KGB's longest serving British spy. Elsewhere, Atomic Blonde, with Charlize Theron taking no prisoners, was well received as a stylish, hyper-violent riff on the spy genre. We've also seen Marion Cotillard in Allied, Andrea Riseborough in Shadow Dancer, Rebecca Ferguson in Despite The Falling Snow, Diane Kruger in The Operative and Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow.

But is it just overkill to give an actress the role of an inherently male character?

In the books, Bond consistently professes to an enjoyment of cars, a love of food, alcohol and love-making, and an average intake of 60 custom-made cigarettes a day. Honestly, an actress taking this on would be heavenly. Add his other character traits - cunning, calm, sly, mature - and as roles for women go, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Oscar winner Theron can certainly turn her hand to everything from comedy to serious drama, and Jodie Comer has already proved herself worthy of the spy job-spec in Killing Eve. Robin Wright Penn, Margot Robbie, Cate Blanchett and Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory all have the ability to disappear completely into the characters they are playing.

A touch of that classically Bond English hauteur would certainly put an actress in the running for the role too, which is why English roses like Claire Foy and Phoebe Waller-Bridge would also make brilliant Bond heroines (the latter is also a dab hand at the on-screen ciggie and tin of gin, too. Handy).

But closer to home, we have no shortage of talented actresses that could easily take up the Bond baton too. Victoria Smurfit would make a smouldering superspy, while Ruth Negga has already proved herself capable of taking on a traditionally 'male' character in Hamlet.

Derry Girls star Judith Roddy, soon to show up on Irish screens in new gangland drama Darklands and set to become the villain everyone loves to hate, could end up a dark horse in the race.

Time will tell whether Bond producer Barbara Broccoli will listen to mounting calls for an actress to take on the biggest spy role in Hollywood. She certainly isn't short of candidates, which leads me to one pressing question: what male actors might be able to do justice to the role of Bridget Jones?

Irish Independent

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