The Best Part Of The 007 Movies Are The “Bond Girls.” Here’s How They’ve Evolved With The Franchise

Much like with the stars of Charlie’s Angels, the women in action hero James Bond’s 007 film series have been evaluated, re-interpreted and updated since their introduction decades ago. They kick butt, can hold their own, talk back, have sassy one-liners and, of course, are sexy and beautiful. Being a “Bond girl” in the 1960s-1980s was essentially having your cake and eating it too.


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The ladies got to be just as strong and powerful as Bond himself, but through the eyes of the male gaze with skimpy outfits and obligatory love sequences. Watching a classic 007 flick with Sean Connery is a bit mystifying through today’s eyes with the casual chauvinism and lack of consent in some scenes. Yet the franchise still lives on in 2021, as we reach Cary Fukunaga’s much-awaited No Time to Die this month.

So what’s the appeal of starring opposite the king of suave as an actress in the 21st century? Well, let’s take a look back in history and see how the action role has treated its starlets over the years. Ursula Andress was a Swiss fashion model and ex-girlfriend of screen icon James Dean when she was cast as the first ever Bond girl, Honey Ryder, in Terence Young’s Dr. No (1962). Andress was instantly catapulted into superstardom for her introduction alone, where she wore a white bikini with wet hair and snorkel goggles on an exotic beach. For the next two decades the model-turned-actress would be featured as eye candy in many comedies and action flicks. Honey Ryder set the bar for future Bond girls, and is still considered the quintessential 007 leading lady sixty years later.

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Although a large chunk of Bond girls are traditionally portrayed by professional models, sometimes an already established actress is cast opposite the secret agent as well. TV star Diana Rigg recently completed her hit action series “The Avengers” (1965-68) when she had the distinction of playing the sole Mrs. Bond in Peter R. Hunt’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). Honor Blackman had a steady working career in her native UK when she appeared in Guy Hamilton’s Goldfinger (1964) as the provocatively named Pussy Galore. Blackman was not only a few mature years older than Andress and fellow Goldfinger femme Shirley Eaton, but was also one of the least visually sexualized Bond girls of the 1960s. Unfortunately, Pussy also suffers from the offensively outdated trope of starting the film as a frigid lesbian who suddenly falls in love with James once they kiss.

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By the time Bond reached the 1970s, Roger Moore was leading the franchise and beauties like Jane Seymour, Britt Ekland and Barbara Bach filled the stilettos and handguns in Guy Hamilton’s Live and Let Die (1973), Hamilton’s The Man with the Golden Gun (1975) and Lewis Gilbert’s The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). One of the most unique Bond castings in the series’ history was in John Glen’s A View to a Kill (1985), where alternative popstar Grace Jones portrayed femme fatale May Day. Once we got to Martin Campbell’s GoldenEye (1995), one of the best regarded Bond films from critics and audiences, the screenwriting got a bit more progressive. It’s the beginning of the Girl Power phenomenon in the late 1990s, so Pierce Brosnan’s Bond is less nonchalantly sexist and the women more independent. Supermodel and movie star Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp is naturally sexy without being objectified too much, and Izabella Scorupco’s Natalya Simonova is a mix of brains and wit who is realistically cautious during the action sequences.

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Campbell would direct the other semi-modern, very well-received Bond film still topping fans’ lists, Casino Royale (2006), which features one of the greatest Bond ladies of all time: Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green. Vesper begins as only a new colleague of James before the two form a legitimate, romantic relationship that’s treated by the filmmakers and viewers as more than just sex appeal. Vesper gets a proper backstory and character development you wouldn’t have seen in the early years of the series. And it helps that Green herself is both charming and sophisticated on top of gorgeous. Even though we’re progressing with the portrayals of gender roles on film with every year, I still feel like no one has yet to top Vesper as the ideal Bond girl; and that includes one of my fave contemporary actresses, Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann in the recent 007 movies, Sam Mendes’ Spectre (2015) and No Time to Die.

And how have the actresses themselves fared since being crowned a 007 ingenue? Kim Basinger of Irvin Kershner’s Never Say Never Again (1983) went on to have a successful acting career, including winning Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for Curtis Hanson’s LA Confidential (1997). Halle Berry made history as the first black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress with Marc Forster’s Monster’s Ball (2001) while on a break from filming Lee Tamahori’s Die Another Day (2002). Berry’s Die Another Day co-star Rosamund Pike has garnered critical acclaim and award nominations for films like Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice (2005), Lone Scherfig’s An Education (2009) and David Fincher’s Gone Girl (2014). Jane Seymour had her own hit TV western-drama for half a decade with “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (1993-98). Barbara Bach continued acting and modeling, and is seen at many Beatles events with her husband Ringo Starr. Famke Janssen co-led the original X-men franchise as Jean Grey in 2000-2014. Eva Green, Léa Seydoux as well as Michelle Yeoh of Roger Spottiswoode’s Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and Sophie Marceau of Michael Apted’s The World is Not Enough (1999) have careers both in Hollywood and internationally. Teri Hatcher and Denise Richards of the latter two features also continue to work in movies and TV shows.

Now we wait and see what the future has in store for No Time to Die newcomers Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch, and where the spotlight takes them.


Are you a James Bond fan? Do you think the Bond girls have naturally progressed with time? Let us know in the comments!

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