Monica Bellucci has spoken of her surprise at being asked to appear in the upcoming James Bond movie ‘SPECTRE’ at the age of 50.
The esteemed Italian actress will be the oldest ‘Bond girl’ in the history of the franchise - although the specifics of her character remain unknown, including whether or not she will have a romantic entanglement with 007. But let’s not be coy - it’s hard to imagine Bond wouldn’t try.
Bellucci told the Sunday Times Style Magazine that when she first spoke to director Sam Mendes, she thought he might want her to take over from Judi Dench as M.
"I just blurted out: I’m not a girl, I’m a woman, I’m a mature woman. Do I have to replace Judi Dench?"
However, Bellucci says Mendes explained, “For the first time in history, James Bond is going to have a story with a mature woman. The concept is revolutionary.”
In another interview with the Mail on Sunday - in which she remarked, “I’d prefer to be called a Bond woman or perhaps a Bond lady” - Bellucci said that Mendes would become “a hero among women” for casting an older actress in the type of role typically reserved for younger women.
Historically, the film industry has tended to neglect actresses once they approach middle age, and the Bond series has of course been no exception, with an oftentimes sizeable age gap between Bond actor and Bond girl actress (particularly in the Roger Moore years).
The eldest Bond girl actress to date was Honor Blackman, who was 39 - and five years older than Sean Connery - when she starred as Pussy Galore in 1964’s ‘Goldfinger.’ There is a similar age gap between Daniel Craig and Monica Bellucci, Craig being four years her junior.
Bellucci’s casting in ‘SPECTRE,’ though rumoured in the few days leading up to the big cast reveal in December, still came as a pleasant surprise to many, but the actress reveals it was something she’d kept quiet for some time.
"If keeping a secret is the key to being a good spy then I think I’d make an excellent secret agent. When Sam told me I had the role of Lucia, I was also told that I had to keep it a secret for a few months. I didn’t tell a soul. That wasn’t a sacrifice for me. I respect a secret. Keeping a secret, for me, is a sign of maturity."
It’s no surprise, then, that Bellucci will reveal almost nothing about her character Lucia Sciarra: “All I can say about Lucia is that she brings to life the idea that femininity can be a thing of strength. In life and in movies, femininity is often depicted as a weakness. But not in ‘SPECTRE.’”
She also declined to comment on rumours (though this is the first we’d heard of it) that her character may be bisexual: “I don’t know if I can answer that. Let the fantasies swirl around. People will find out the truth when they see the film.”
As to whether there might be a love connection between Bond and Sciarra, Bellucci was again tight-lipped, though she did declare 007 to be “my ideal man. He’s got the danger and the mystery but he is also a perfect English gentleman.
"That sense of danger is maybe his greatest quality. He’s looking for danger even when he’s not in action. ‘Even if there is pain involved he cannot help looking for danger because that’s when he feels most alive. Of course, in real life, there can be too much danger in a man. But we all love a little danger…
Teasingly, she added, “And how good a kisser is Daniel Craig? I assume that he is very good indeed. To find out if this is more than an assumption on my part, you’ll have to watch the movie. Voila!”
Currently in production, ‘SPECTRE’ is scheduled to hit UK cinemas on 23 October 2015.
Picture Credit: Sony/MGM-UA, Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images