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« A Year with Kate: Love Affair (1994) | Main | Female Screenwriter Tops 2014 Black List »
Wednesday
Dec172014

James Bond's Women, Frozen in Time?

TFE welcomes back its friend and resident 007 expert Deborah with a statistical investigation brought on that recent "Spectre" press conference. If you love Bond Girls or Bellucci, and who doesn't?, read on - Editor

With the announcement earlier this month that Monica Bellucci had been cast in the forthcoming Bond film, Spectre, the media has recently been replete with headlines like “James Bond finally falls for a woman his own age” It was the oft-repeated “finally” that put me in an analytic mood. Is this really the first time (“finally”) that Bond has been with a woman his own age? How often has there been a really large age disparity?

I decided to analyze each movie so I could derive some statistics. James Bond is almost always with two or more women per film, but we can generally identify the “main” and “secondary” woman. I decided, for the sake of my own sanity, to disregard however many other women there might be, with the following exceptions: You Only Live Twice has three women of almost equal importance. Meanwhile, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, and The Living Daylights give us only one important woman each. Sure, Bond made love to other women in each film, but they had little screen time and were strictly fly-by-night. Let’s not trouble ourselves.

First question first...

No Firsts For Bellucci
This is not the first time that Bond has been with a woman his own age, although Bellucci is definitely the oldest woman who has had a primary or secondary love interest role in a Bond film (we don’t know which yet). In four previous films, Bond has been with a woman older than himself. Sylvia Trench, the only repeat love interest, appearing in both Dr. No and From Russia With Love was 2 years older than her costar. Pussy Galore, in Goldfinger, was five years older. Tracy Di Vicenzo, the woman Bond married in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, was played by Diana Rigg who was a year older than George Lazenby's Bond. It’s interesting Di Vicenzo, the most important woman in Bond history, the only one referenced in subsequent films (Roger Moore’s Bond even visited her grave), was not a younger woman. And now, Monica Bellucci is four years older than current Bond actor Daniel Craig.

PUSSY GALORE (Goldfinger) the most 'older than Bond' of them all-- and one of your 3 favorites-- was five years older than Bond.

The Younger Women
How many years younger is too young? It’s kind of random; any number could be argued. As my own spouse is seven years younger than me, I chose seven years as a reasonable cut-off. That gives us only three additional instances of Bond being within an appropriate distance of his costar; in all cases, these were Sean Connery films (Honey Ryder, Jill Masterson, and Fiona Volpe make the cut-off). Upping the range to 8 years adds Moneypenny (Skyfall version) to the list, and upping it to 9 means that Paris Carver and Solange are included (costars of Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, respectively). There is no reasonable range, though, that includes any Roger Moore or Timothy Dalton movie.

Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher) is an interesting case. In Tomorrow Never Dies, she’s a woman from Bond’s past; you’d think a little age would work for the role. Teri Hatcher was 33 when she played the part; Sela Ward, who was 41, was considered but rejected specifically because of her age.

All Photos From 1997 - Sela was deemed 'too old' despite being 3 years younger than Brosnan

007 Ages. Bond Girls Do Not.
One of the obvious causes of age disparity is that the “right” age for a beautiful woman is frozen in these films. Bond’s age range is vast, from 30 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, to 58 in A View to a Kill. Yet every woman in the existing Bond movies is between 21 and 39. While each actor (except Lazenby, who played 007 but once) ages in the role, the women he plays opposite do not. This means that the age disparity increases per film per actor, and in the case of Moore, who was the oldest Bond by far (he made 4 films past the age where every other Bond actor had hung up his license to kill), it’s really dramatic... even uncomfortable.

[Disclaimer: I’m not calculating for Never Say Never Again, which was made by a rival production company. Since it makes sense to attribute something like this to the film’s producers, we don’t want to mix in a competing brand. And all ages are calculated based on release year; I haven’t attempted to make age accurate to the month.]

The thing about Roger Moore is he was incredibly young-looking, even though he was actually older than Connery. At the point where Connery was looking long in the tooth (42, gray, and a little paunchy in Diamonds Are Forever) Moore came along with a perfect, unlined baby face. Moore was 46 in Live and Let Die, making him 22 years older than costar Jane Seymour. But because he looked no more than 35, it didn’t seem egregious. Unfortunately, when time caught up with Moore, it did so all at once; suddenly he was a dirty old man, still sleeping with women in their 20s when he was 58.

Age difference was actually addressed in a Roger Moore movie, For Your Eyes Only. The character of Bibi Dahl, a figure skater played by Lynn-Holly Johnson, attempts to seduce Bond. He turns her down with, “You get your clothes on, and I'll buy you an ice cream.” Bibi Dahl (“baby doll”—get it?) is dressed and treated as a teenager, and Bond has no interest in sleeping with her.

Bond (Moore iteration) shows rare restraint refusing to sleep with teenager "Bibi Dahl"

In real life, though, the actress was 23 at the time, just a year younger than Carole Bouquet, who played the main “Bond girl,” and was fully 30 years younger than Moore.

Daniel Craig, the Loner
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that Daniel Craig’s movies have all been outliers where romance is concerned. Casino Royale gives us the most conventional “Bond girl” relationship, but even then, Bond is alone at the end for the first time in 007 film history. It is common for a secondary Bond girl to be killed in the course of a film, but only in Casino Royale did both women die. In Quantum of Solace, Bond never sleeps with, or even kisses, the primary Bond girl; he again ends up alone. In Skyfall, the only woman who can be seen as a primary love interest is Moneypenny (although we don’t know that’s who she is until the end). The movie gives us a “did they or didn’t they” scene to keep the long history of flirtation between 007 and M’s assistant alive. Skyfall is the third of three Daniel Craig Bond movies in which 007 ends up alone—Eve Moneypenny now behind her iconic desk, and the secondary Bond girl (Bérénice Marlohe, 33 at the time, pictured left) dead at about the film’s halfway point.

So, bringing us to the present and Spectre (2015), the presence of Lucia (Bellucci) is unusual, but for a Daniel Craig movie…that’s not unusual.

Some Numbers

  • Sean Connery averaged just seven years older than his costars. 
  • George Lazenby was a year younger than his only important costar. 
  • Roger Moore averaged an appalling 22 years older than the women he was involved with as Bond. 
  • Timothy Dalton averaged 19 years older. 
  • Pierce Brosnan averaged 14.5 years older. 
  • Daniel Craig, if you include only released movies, has been 11.5 years older on average; Spectre brings the average down to 10. Don’t forget that Madeline (Lea Seydoux) will be 30 in 2015, and we don’t know which of these women is the primary love interest. 
  • Overall average is about 15 years older, dipping down to 14.5 if Spectre is included.

 

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Reader Comments (10)

Certainly M (an almost 78 year old Judi Dench) is the primary love interest in Skyfall, even without sex.

And Bond does kiss Camille in Quantum Of Solace.

December 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

I love realizing that about Pussy Galore. It's just one of many reasons why she's one of the best Bond girls I guess. She seemed like such an equal. Even if the power of his magic penis was still too much for her Sapphic Strength.

December 17, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I wasn't sure if they kissed or not in Quantum of Solace. I was writing while on an out-of-town trip, so I didn't have my DVD to check. But you know, it's a goodbye kiss, not a moment of passion.

Craig's Bond calls M a mother or mother-figure in more than one movie. I think calling her a love interest is facile.

December 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

"I think calling her a love interest is facile."

Certainly not for Silva.

December 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

Interesting and impressive facts and figures. I prefer the Bonds where the actress is more age appropriate so I'm hoping it is Monica Bellucci(!!!) who is the main love interest. She and Daniel Craig seem like they would have an interesting vibe and certainly sparks.

It would have been great if they had cast Rachel Weisz, who obviously is a great match with him but in lieu of that Monica Belluci is about as good as they could get.

I've always regretted my favorite Bond girl, Diana Rigg who was such a perfect choice to be Mrs. Bond because of her sophistication, intelligence and class, was paired with the weakest of the Bonds. She and Sean Connery would have been a fascinating couple.

December 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Wily, HAH!

December 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

This was such a neat and fun article to read-thank you for it!

December 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Love Marlohe in Skyfall. What a pity her role wasn't bigger

December 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

"As my own spouse is seven years younger than me, I chose seven years as a reasonable cut-off."

To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davis: she would say that, wouldn't she? ;-)


Isn't the rule half your age plus seven?

December 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

Hi Joel6:

"I've always regretted my favorite Bond girl, Diana Rigg who was such a perfect choice to be Mrs. Bond because of her sophistication, intelligence and class, was paired with the weakest of the Bonds. She and Sean Connery would have been a fascinating couple."

I tend to agree, but to play devil's advocate, two thoughts:

1) Arguably, Lazenby being so wet behind the ears went into the casting of Rigg. IF Connery had agreed to do OHMSS, they might not have cast so accomplished an actress as Rigg to play the love interest.

2) Also, as witnessed by his listless outing in You Only Live Twice, Connery was in a funk playing Bond. So there's a good chance a dream pairing with Rigg may have disappointed (unless Connery got what Peter Hunt was trying to in OHMSS).

December 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Maul

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