Naomie Harris Born September 6, 1976. Starred as Selena~28 Days Later, Tia Dalma/Calypso~2nd+3rd Pirates of the Caribbean, Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall and SPECTRE.Winnie Mandela in Mandela:Long Walk to Freedom.Southpaw, Our Kind of Traitor,Moonlight (Oscar Nominee) plus Collateral Beauty and Jungle Book (2018)
Actress Naomie Harris, 36, was in Pirates Of The Caribbean and 28 Days Later. She starred in Skyfall as Moneypenny, for which she did her own stunt driving.
What was doing Skyfall like? It was a dream come true – I never thought I’d be part of a Bond movie so it was a surreal experience. There was a lot of hard work. I’ve never had to be so fit and I had a personal trainer who kicked my butt five days a week and had to do combat training and stunt driving.
Did you keep up the training? I promised myself I would – but I lasted a month. There’s an amazing shot the on-set photographer took of me hitting a bad guy in the head with a briefcase. I look ready to enter a bodybuilding competition. I’ve got that as evidence of how fit I got.
How was the stunt driving? I had six car accidents before doing this film and I’m a much better driver now – they weren’t all my fault, two of them were when I was sitting in stationary traffic. The stunt driving was useful. When you learn to drive no one puts you in slippery road conditions and asks you to spin the car round – but driving in the worst possible conditions does improve your skills so nothing phases you when you’re driving on set.
Do you read articles about yourself? No, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about me because I have the opinions of my friends and family to go on. I love acting but everything surrounding it, like press, isn’t of interest to me.
Were ladies fainting all over the place when Daniel Craig was around? They were – he’s so loved all around the world – women and men actually adore him. I can’t imagine what it must be like being him and getting that sort of adoration. I knew Daniel in a different context and he’s a lovely, down-to-earth man, so to interact with him at that level then see people getting hysterical about him was strange.
Have you ever been like that about anyone? I was completely obsessed with Michael Jackson. I did a film called After The Sunset, which Brett Ratner directed. He was really good friends with Michael and he kept saying he was going to visit the set but he never did. It’s one of the great disappointments of my life.
What difference has Skyfall made to your career? A big difference. There’s a lot more interest now. People in the industry who didn’t know my name before know who I am now. It hasn’t affected my personal life, I can still take the Tube and walk down Oxford Street.
Other than Skyfall what’s had the biggest impact? Pirates Of The Caribbean had a big impact but people didn’t really associate me with that role. Then, 28 Days Later was a huge one. Everything followed from that.
You started acting very young – did you ever consider doing anything else? No, it’s always just been acting for me. I did a degree in social and political sciences at Cambridge because I was a child actress and looked too young for adult roles but too old for kid’s roles. I thought while I was maturing I’d go to university. I also didn’t want to look back and regret not going to university. I didn’t want to be considered a bimbo actress.
Long Walk To Freedom’s coming up. What was doing that like? Harrowing. Playing Winnie Mandela, she went through a hell of lot, she had her children taken away from her, the love of her life was taken away from her – doing that every day was tough. I had two days between doing Bond and starting on that. You can’t portray the life of a woman like Winnie Mandela without being affected by it – you have to go to dark places and can’t be jolly on set every day.
Was it a relief to finish it? A real relief. I could let go of her pain and anger. I don’t hate anyone and feel really thankful about that but a big part of what fuels Winnie is hatred, a big part of what fuelled the apartheid regime was hatred, so to explore that was tough and very draining.
Do you feel obliged to portray someone in a more flattering light after meeting them? No, I’ve played living people before and had a problem with it but when I met Winnie I asked how she wanted people to see her and she told me to portray her as I saw fit.
Dawn French once told you to toughen up. What was that about? I did corporate training films when I was at university and Dawn French did some too. I was very shy when I was younger and very softly spoken. Dawn just said: ‘If you want to survive in this industry you have to develop a thick skin.’ It’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given.
What lesson has 25 years in showbiz taught you? Anything’s possible. You can feel powerless as an actor but that’s not true – there’s a lot you can do to create work and demand.