Wednesday, 26 November 2014

007 Film History: Black Bond Girls - From Trina Parks To 'Skyfall' Star Naomie Harris

007 Film History: Black Bond Girls - From Trina Parks To 'Skyfall' Star Naomie Harris

NON-WHITE BOND GIRLS have only featured sporadically within the history of the 007 films. Naomie Harris in 'Skyfall' is the first black British actress to star. Will others now follow? By Ben Arogundade.


BLACK BEAUTY IN BOND: Actress Naomie Harris, the first ever black British Bond girl, stars in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall with Daniel Craig as 007. The star of Pirates Of The Caribbean and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, is one of only five black actresses ever to feature within the famous film franchise. Trina Parks was the first, in the 1973 movie Diamonds Are Forever, opposite Sean Connery as Bond.

THE LATEST BOND film, Skyfall, stars actress Naomie Harris opposite Daniel Craig as 007. She has made history as the first ever black British Bond girl to appear in the franchise. The Cambridge University graduate and star of the films Pirates Of The Caribbean and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, follows in the footsteps of only four other black actresses that have appeared in the role since the series first hit cinema screens in 1962. Some might contend that this is a relief, considering that Bond girls are traditionally no more than eye candy, and have a tendency to end up dead or cast adrift romantically, but nevertheless the part still holds tremendous prestige for any young actress.

The first non-white Bond girls did not feature until the late 1960’s, assisted by the momentum of the American Civil Rights Movement, which expanded the landscape for alternative definitions of beauty. In 1966 Star Trek launched on television, featuring a multi-racial crew aboard the starship Enterprise, and the makers of the Bond films responded in similar fashion the following year with the movie You Only Live Twice, which featured three East Asians — Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama and Tsai Chin.

Next, the first black Bond girl debuted in 1973 when African American actress and dancer Trina Parks starred as the light-footed villain, Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever (1973). The timing coincided with the Blaxploitation era, and the Bond franchise picked up on a new beauty archetype — the ass-kicking, chocolate-skinned Blaxploitation goddess, armed with an Afro and an attitude.

Parks’ debut was closely followed by that of model and former Playboy bunny Gloria Hendry, who starred as double agent Rosie Carver in Live And Let Die (1973). She was the first black Bond girl to be sexually involved with the British agent — on this occasion, Roger Moore as 007. When the film was first released in South Africa during the apartheid era, sex scenes between the pair were cut.

There would be a 12-year gap before the next black Bond girl would feature, this time recording artist and former fashion model Grace Jones, who starred as the ultra-macho and slightly scary May Day in View To A Kill (1985). But there would be an even bigger wait for the next Asian Bond beauties — 30 years would pass before actress Michelle Yeoh starred in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).

Halle Berry became the most popular black Bond girl ever when she played Jinx Johnson in Die Another Day (2002). In a tribute to Ursula Andress’s famous scene from Dr No, Berry — dressed in a skimpy orange bikini — rose gracefully out of the sea as a racially upgraded sex bomb for a new multi-ethnic age. Today’s racially diverse film fans now have Naomie Harris as James Bond’s fifth black femme fatale. Five is a conspicuously low number, and the large gap between their appearances suggests that the franchise’s racial revisionism is moving at a slower pace than it is in Hollywood. One can only hope they catch up quickly.

The new book BLACK BEAUTY by Ben Arogundadeis out now.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

'James Bond 24': Christoph Waltz Cast as Iconic Villain Blofeld?

'James Bond 24': Christoph Waltz Cast as Iconic Villain Blofeld?

Christoph Waltz has reportedly signed on to play classic 007 villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in 'Bond 24', which will shoot in London and Rome.

Just weeks after we reported that Christoph Waltz is playing the main villain in Bond 24The Daily Mail claims that the actor is actually playing the classic James Bondnemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld in this highly-anticipated sequel.
Eon Productions is expected to confirm Christoph Waltz's casting during a press conference to be held in the first week of December. At that time, they will announce that the actor is playing Franz Oberhauser, son of the late Hans Oberhauser, a ski instructor who was a father figure to 007 (Daniel Craig). However, one unidentified source claims that the announcement will be a misdirect, and that Christoph Waltz is actually playing Blofeld.
"Christoph Waltz is playing Blofeld in the next Bond film. The tone of the 007 films has changed significantly in recent years and the producers have changed the character to fit in with the new-look 007."
We reported in November 2013 that Eon Productions won the rights back to the Blofeld character and his evil organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E., after MGM won a 50-year legal dispute with the estate of writer Kevin McClory, who created Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Blofeld has appeared in six 007 movies, played by Anthony Dawsonin From Russia with Love and ThunderballDonald Pleasence in You Only Live TwiceTelly Savalas in On Her Majesty's Secret ServiceCharles Gray inDiamonds Are Forever and John Hollis in For Your Eyes OnlyMax von Sydowalso played Blofeld in the "unofficial" James Bond movie Never Say Never Again.
Daniel Craig is returning as 007 in Bond 24, alongside Skyfall stars Ralph Fiennes(M), Naomie Harris (Eve Moneypenny) and Ben Whishaw (Q). Léa Seydoux has also signed on to play a femme fatale, while Dave Bautista is playing an evil henchman named Hinx.
In related news, The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Bond 24 will film some scenes in Rome, along with their primary location at Pinewood Studios in London. The production will shoot at least three key action scenes in Rome, including "nighttime high speed car chases" through the city's narrow and winding streets, and on the historic street Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. One scene will feature a car that ends up in the Tibur River.
Another scene will reportedly feature a Fiat 500 getting crushed at Borgo Vittorio near The Vatican, and 007 himself will be seen parachuting from a helicopter onto the 15th Century pedestrian bridge Ponte Sisto. Production will also take place outside of Rome at the Royal Palace of Caserta in Campania. Production in Italy will run from February 19 through March 12, with the production offices based in Cinecitta Studios.
Bond 24 comes to theaters November 6th, 2015 and stars Ralph Fiennes, Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Léa Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Christoph Waltz. The film is directed by Sam Mendes.

Naomie and Idris have a reunion over a brandy at La Maison Rémy Martin in London.

Suits you! Naomie Harris goes braless in plunging blazer and two-tone trousers for launch of new pop-up members club

Finding the right balance between sexy and sophisticated can often be tricky, however Naomie Harris made it look effortless when she stepped out on Monday evening.
The Bond girl left her bra at home for the launch of new pop-up members only club, La Maison Rémy Martin in London.
With her tresses worn up in a relaxed 'do, the 38-year-old set pulses racing with her plunging outfit before reuniting with her Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom co-star Idris Elba. 
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Turning heads: The actress caught up with Yasmin Le Bon at the capital's newest members club
How low can you go? Naomie Harris looked stunning as she arrived at the La Maison Rémy Martin launch party on Monday evening
The beauty stood out from the crowd in her black blazer, which was teamed with a pair of two-tone ankle-grazing trousers, complete with orange hem.
Elongating her already lengthy pins with elegant strappy heels, Naomie added just a simple silver chain to her ensemble.
However the Skyfall star made sure to give her classic look some edge with thanks to a printed clutch bag.
Turning heads: The actress caught up with Yasmin Le Bon at the capital's newest members club
Turning heads: The actress caught up with Yasmin Le Bon at the capital's newest members club
Plunging: The 38-year-old went braless under her black jacket, which she teamed with a matching pair of trousers, complete with orange hem
Naomie was seen chatting to Yasmin Le Bon while Idris, 42, looked dapper in a grey jumper, jeans and dark leather shoes.
The 28 Days Later actress looked upbeat after tweeting at the weekend to say: 'Was anyone else totally wiped out this weekend? I couldn't stop sleeping! Apparently it was the change of seasons affecting us all!'
The star recently finished filming Our Kind of Traitor opposite her on-screen love interest Ewan McGregor. 
Stand out: The James Bond beauty polished off her attire with eye-catching clutch and a relaxed up 'do
Stand out: The James Bond beauty polished off her attire with eye-catching clutch and a relaxed up 'do
The thriller – an adaptation of the 2010 novel by John Le Carre - was shot in Paris and is expected to be released next year.
Susanna White’s new film will see the couple in the middle of Russian oligarch Dmitri ‘Dima’ Vladimirovich Krasnov’s plan to defect after he reaches out to Perry, believing him to be a British spy.
Their involvement with the billionaire money launderer puts them in a precarious position when they are caught between the British Secret Service and the Russian mafia. 
Reunion: Naomie's former Mandela co-star Idris Elba was also in attendance, where he looked dapper in a grey jumper and jeans
Reunion: Naomie's former Mandela co-star Idris Elba was also in attendance, where he looked dapper in a grey jumper and jeans

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Naomie Harris In Alexander McQueen – La Maison Remy Martin Members Club Launch Party

Naomie Harris In Alexander McQueen - La Maison Remy Martin Members Club Launch Party
I was delighted to see Naomie Harris back on the red carpet again for the launch of La Maison Rémy Martin members club on Monday (November 24) in London, England.
The British actress was looking very sharp wearing an Alexander McQueen classic tuxedo jacket updated with a contoured, feminine shape.
Working the look sans blouse for a more sultry vibe to this mannish offering, I’m not usually a fan of ankle-swinging trousers, but the red colour block gives this piece a new dimension and totally helps win me over.
Styled with Bionda Castana ‘Alexandra’ pointy pumps and Bee Goddess jewels, the look was pulled effortlessly together with a red, black and white McQueen clutch.
One for the BDOTW list, methinks.
You can buy Naomie’s Alexander McQueen Contrast Cuff Trousers from
Credit: Getty

Monday, 17 November 2014

'James Bond 24' Casts Christoph Waltz as the Main Villain?

A new report from the Daily Mail claims that 'Django Unchained' star Christoph Waltz has joined 'Bond 24' as the villain, though Sony hasn't confirmed.

There is no official confirmation from Sony at this time, but the Daily Mail is claimingDjango Unchained star Christoph Waltz has signed on as the main villain in Bond 24.
There is no further information about whom Christoph Waltz may be playing. It has been rumored that the Blofeld character and his villainous organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. may feature into the storyline of Bond 24, with Sony winning back the rights almost exactly a year ago. That has never been confirmed by anyone associated with the project.
In October, it was reported by Latino Review that Guardians of the Galaxy starDave Bautista had signed onto play the villainous henchmen Jinx in the film. That news, while seemingly confirmed by their sources at the time, has never been confirmed by Sony. Will we see Christoph Waltz and Dave Bautista working as a team? That certainly would be fun.
Skyfall director Sam Mendes is returning to direct a story that is said to continue the previous sequel. Daniel Craig is reprising his iconic role as 007, with Ralph Fiennes,Naomie HarrisBen Whishaw and Léa Seydoux all set to appear.
According to the Daily Mail, Bond 24 will shoot in early December in Mexico, Morocco, Austria, Italy and London. Now we just have to wait for some official confirmation from the studio

SIGNS ON FOR BOND24.Shoots early December Mexico Morocco Austria Italy & London.

Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Naomie Harris join Benedict Cumberbatch in Jungle Book: Origins

Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Naomie Harris join Benedict Cumberbatch in Jungle Book: Origins

Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Naomie Harris join Benedict Cumberbatch in Jungle Book: Origins
Some of Hollywood’s finest are assembling for Warner Bros' Jungle Book: Origins, with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Naomie Harris the latest to be added to the line-up.
Their casting follows this week’s confirmation that Benedict Cumberbatch will also lend his voice and motion capture experience to the film, an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s book directed by Andy Serkis.
Well, as Cumberbatch rather aptly put it, he’s been “rolling around a carpeted floor like a lunatic” doing the movements and voice of Smaug the dragon in the final Hobbit film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. He’s more than ready for the part of tiger Shere Khan.
Bale arrives to voice panther Bagheera, while Blanchett (another Hobbit alum) will lend her vocal talents to the teasing python Kaa. Skyfall’s Naomie Harris joins as the wolf Nisha, while Serkis himself will voice Baloo the bear, The Hollywood Reporter confirms.
The film will see motion capture, CG animation and live action all at work. Steve Kloves, writer on the Harry Potter film series, joins as a producer alongside Jonathan Cavendish, who counts Bridget Jones and Blanchett’s Elizabeth: Golden Age among his work.
There’s also, just to be confusing, another Jungle Book adaptation in the works, coming from Disney. Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Lupita Nyong’o are among the confirmed stars.
Jungle Book: Origins is expected in cinemas on 21st October 2016. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Naomie Harris interview: 'Playing Winnie is the hardest thing I've done'- November 2013

Naomie Harris interview: 'Playing Winnie is the hardest thing I've done'

Naomie Harris became a global star as the Bond girl in Skyfall, but her biggest challenge yet has been playing the controversial figure of Nelson Mandela's wife in the new biopic. Luckily, she says, her co-star was Idris Elba…

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Naomie Harris: 'I feel comfortable acting, I've been doing it since I was nine.' Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Observer
The first time I met Naomie Harris was in 2010 in a noisy cafe in Portobello Road, London. I thought then that she was the sort of girl you would have wanted to make your best friend if you had met her at school: warm, talkative, not at all puffed up and not dressed up either. I don't remember what she wore but it wasn't aiming to be memorable. The cafe was noisy so she suggested we talk in her nearby flat. She was best known then for her role in Pirates of the Caribbean and for television dramas (Clara in White Teeth, Hortense in Small Island). She was about to pull into the fast lane, but had not yet accelerated into being a Bond girl (or as she prefers "Bond woman") in Skyfall. Nor would she have had any inkling that she would take on Winnie Mandela in a £22m biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom opposite Idris Elba as Mandela (opening in the UK in January).
Today at the Dorchester, the quick-witted readiness to talk, the sparkle and infectious peals of laughter are as I remember. But the look is transformed. The 37-year-old is dazzling: 100% film star. I fail to ask who designed her close-fitting black and white dress because I am focused on her insanely high Louboutins, their scarlet soles flashing as she walks in. She protests: "I am always tripping over, very much a klutz." And being Naomie Harris, she is relaxed about her transformation.
"As a child, I used to wear my cousin's hand-me-downs and be perfectly happy. I was like: why is anyone interested in fashion?" Being in "the business" changed that: "I realised the power of clothes to change the way you feel. If you wear dowdy jumpers, you feel dowdy.
"If you dress differently, you feel differently," she continues. "You know what? It is a celebration of you. As you come more into yourself, you want to celebrate yourself more, and that is a beautiful thing and an important thing – as you get older, you should fall more and more in love with yourself."
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I prefer her thoughts on jumpers. On the other hand, celebration has been the order of the day for Harris, not least because Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, based on Nelson Mandela's autobiography, has been getting the red-carpet treatment worldwide. The Johannesburg premierewas especially daunting, Harris tells me. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela – now 77 – was present, as was Mandela's third wife, Graça Machel. Ahmed Kathrada, in prison with Mandela on Robben Island, and lawyer George Bizos, who defended Mandela half a century ago, were also in the audience.
"It was nerve-wracking," she says. "When we showed the film in Toronto, people were laughing, responding noisily. In South Africa, there was silence. I thought: oh no! But afterwards, people were in tears, incredibly moved, processing the film on a profound level. One of Mandela's nieces was sobbing in my arms."
The Mandelas are – naturally – the film's ultimate critics. At 95 and after three months in hospital with a lung infection, Nelson Mandela, who lives in the suburbs not far from where the film was being shown, has not seen it. But he has watched a clip in which he is said to have mistaken Elba for himself. Winnie has been outspoken in her approval and got treated to ululations at the premiere. She dubbed Harris and Elba "honorary South Africans" and said it was "the first time [she has been] truly captured on screen".
Harris is over the moon – "It is the greatest accolade possible" – and is, unsurprisingly, careful not to say anything critical. You see her difficulty: Winnie Mandela will never be a less than controversial figure but Naomie Harris's task has been to treat the transition from innocent young woman to violent demagogue sympathetically – or at least with understanding.
She admits that playing Winnie Mandela is "the hardest thing I've ever done". Learning to speak with a Xhosa accent in front of South African actors required nerve. And she had never played someone who ages: "I had to plot it out. At 21, Winnie had joyfulness, innocence, openness, excitement and an ability to fall in love deeply. But as people get older – well, some people – they close down. Winnie is a complex woman – like seven people in one. She was a grass-roots activist – on the streets with the people. She could only survive the level of brutality she went through this way." Harris has extraordinary ferocity in the role: she is at her most moving when most militant, punching the air with her first, crying: "Amandla!"
The film's second high-profile screening was in Washington – at the White House. Harris describes Barack Obama coming into the library to meet the cast: "He lights up a room, he is so magnetic and charming. He said: 'The last time I saw you, you were kicking butt in Skyfall.' And I thought: 'Oh my God, the President knows who I am!'" But we will have to wait for Obama's verdict – he introduced the screening but was too busy to watch the film. (Michelle Obama has promised Harris that she and her husband will be seeing it together soon).
It is Harris's ability to convey happiness on screen (as when she falls in love with Nelson) that is her most striking quality and defines her other work too. (She had a memorable radiance and a deliciously teasing manner as a hard-working Kenyan schoolteacher in The First Grader, directed, like Mandela, by Justin Chadwick.) What makes her happiest in life? "Simple things. I love being in the countryside. I adore family. The more artifice involved, the more uncomfortable I become." When her family visits her on set, they tell her she seems at her happiest in front of a camera. "I feel comfortable because I've been doing it since I was nine [in children's television dramas]. I love being someone else, accessing different worlds – there is joy in that." Her dream of future happiness is not elaborate either: "When I retire from acting, I'd like to have a home in the countryside and write. I wrote a novel when I was 13. I imagine a south-west facing house and rolling hills. It is sunny, so probably not in England… though it is always summer in my imagination…"
mandela film stillIdris Elba and Naomie Harris in a scene from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Photograph: AP
What was it like playing opposite Idris Elba (star of The Wire and Luther, and recently voted Harper's Bazaar's man of the year)? "He's playful, mischievous and has a very silly sense of humour. I'd always make him laugh for some reason. And he has this little giggle and it's really cute. But the wonderful thing was that, after the first rehearsal, he came up to me and said: 'I am scared. Are you scared?' He made me feel so much better by being open about it." She adds that they bonded over a shared birthday, 6 September, and because "he is an only child and so am I".
I remember last time we met how present her mother, Lisselle Kayla, was in Harris's conversation – as an empowering figure. Her mother raised her on her own in Finsbury Park, north London (her Trinidadian father, Winston, left when she was little) and their relationship seems always to have been tremendously close. Yet she is undeceived about single parenthood.
"A child needs male and female influences. It is important for their wellbeing and sense of being a whole person. As a child, I thought my mum was a kind of god who knew everything and was always right, and actually life is never like that. It's a compromise, a balance…"
I ask at what point it occurred to her that her mother was as faulty as everyone else. "I am still realising it! I still think she is so amazing." Her mother used to be a scriptwriter on EastEnders and is now a healer who helps Harris overcome performance nerves. "She does EFT, emotional freedom technique, about releasing childhood traumas impacting on your life through a process of tapping along your meridian points."
Thanks to her mother, she was able to trace her nerves about having to give a speech back to being 17 and at school. "I had to give a speech in a sociology class and it went really badly. I had done so much research, I got overwhelmed and froze. I felt really awful… But we tapped through that and it has made me much more confident."
Naomie loved Finsbury Park and still does because it is "so multicultural. I had no idea growing up that I was in an ethnic minority. There were so many black, Asian and oriental people – a real mixture." And she still remembers her first stabs at acting: "My grandad gave me a children's Bible and I was obsessed with it. Whenever anyone came through the door, I wanted to perform the Adam and Eve story."
She grew up without knowing her father and then, encouraged by a friend, met him when she was an adult. She says: "Unfortunately, I can't talk about that now. My dad asked me not to, as he does not have any recourse to tell his side of the story, and I respect that." And if there is a man of a more romantic sort in her life, she is not in any rush to talk about him, either.
mandela still2Naomie Harris in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex
The director Sam Mendes once described Naomie Harris as "gentle and loving" but also as a "ditherer". Does she recognise herself in that description? "Um. I don't think I really… I don't know because I dither sort of… I think of dithering as someone who is unsure constantly and I am very certain but er…" I laugh and interrupt her to tell her it is a dithery answer. But evidently once she has set herself a task, she sticks to it. Last time we met, she told me she was bullied at school. Did this help her develop a thick skin? She replies that it was independent-mindedness that got her bullied in the first place.
How much does she care what other people think of her? "Not very much at all. I care what I think about myself. I am always trying to find what the truth is for me and, weirdly, that is one of the things I find hardest to do." Her determination must have helped her get into Cambridge university, where she read social and political sciences and where the novelist Zadie Smith was a contemporary. ("She was the cool one. I was the nerdy one with glasses.") Although she was not happy there, she insists: "Going to Cambridge is one of the things I am most proud of. I learnt so much."
Finally, I ask about South Africa. She hesitates. You can see it is a question to which she has given much thought: "The legacy of apartheid is incredibly apparent still. It is extraordinary that a structure like apartheid was dismantled and a new regime put in place without [a war] but, in a way, this hasn't allowed people the opportunity to vent their grievances, to get a sense of justice. It is a beautiful country and the people are open, generous and warm. But South Africa still has a lot of healing to do."
Our conversation is almost over when the door opens and Idris Elba walks in, saying to Naomie that he needs a word. They disappear briefly and, on the other side of the wall, I hear laughter – they sound like conspirators. On their return, he apologises and exclaims in a way that manages to avoid out-and-out thespiness and sound heartfelt: "It was a moment I needed with my co-star, who I love. We really helped each other get through this film."