Born to be a Bond girl

French actress B�R�NICE MARLOHE tells Pierre de Villiers that she is more than a match for 007

“They showed the Bond movies on French TV and I saw a lot of them that way,” she recalls. “Then, when I was older, I would go to watch each new one at the cinema. It is a unique franchise that has lasted 50 years and many people were raised with the films. A lot have joked with me over the years: ‘Oh, you should be a Bond girl’.”

The fantasy is about to become a reality for the 33-year-old actress as she follows in the footsteps of fellow French stars Carole Bouquet, Sophie Marceau and Eva Green to become a Bond girl in the 23rd official 007 adventure Skyfall. While the exact part that her character S�v�rine plays is a secret, trailers suggest she is a strong, sexy woman who has little problem seducing 007.

To get into character Marlohe turned to one of the biggest names to be involved in the evergreen franchise. “I enjoyed listening to Shirley Bassey a lot when I was preparing for the role because she is the incarnation of a Bond girl,” she says, discussing the Welsh diva who recorded the theme song to three Bond movies: Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker. “She gives me the sense of a sexy, powerful woman and so I took a lot of my inspiration from her. She is so great and her voice – oh my God!”

The fact that Marlohe, whose mother is French and father Cambodian, turned to a singer for inspiration hints at her musical background. Her early years in Paris were spent not on stage but behind the piano.

“I played the piano for eight years and I love to paint and draw, but acting came later. An agent noticed me a long time ago and she put me on the road towards becoming an actor. Meeting and working with a wonderful acting coach, I fell in love with acting. I was 23 when I started and still go to the same coach, because he is great.”

Marlohe has appeared in several French TV series and made the step up to feature films with Un Bonheur N’Arrive Jamais Seul and L’Art de S�duire, but nothing could prepare her for joining the Bond juggernaut. “I’m sure I’ll never get the chance to have such an amazing adventure like that again. It was magical in so many ways. I was surprised and delighted by the sets created at Pinewood Studios; they were incredible. I felt like a child in a magical playground.”Marlohe enjoyed her Bond experience so much that she might just be lost to the French film industry. “For years, I was hoping to have a big break in France so that I would be noticed in England and in the States. I always dreamt of an international career, so I shall continue with English and American movies; I love to act in English.”

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As much as Marlohe has adored making her first blockbuster, the actress is well aware that becoming a Bond girl means the end of her relative anonymity.

“I’m trying to enjoy the fact that I can still walk in the street [in Paris] without being noticed, because it will change a lot of things when the film is released.”

Skyfall is in cinemas from 26 October.