Summer 2015 was the season of the long-awaited sequel, with Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, and Terminator: Genisys all premiering to varying degrees of success. But, if there's a larger trend spanning the entire calendar year, it's this: 2015 is definitively the year of the Spy Movie. It started in February with Kingsman: The Secret Service, proceeded through Spy, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and will continue until the end of the year with Hitman: Agent 47, Bridge Of Spies, and Spectre , the highly-anticipated sequel to Daniel Craig's 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.
Women in James Bond films have long been relegated to arm candy and cliché femme fatale roles, so Spectre has a lot to live up to. To be fair, the Craig-era of Bond films has shown a marked improvement in this area. Starting with Eva Green's duplicitous Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, the rebooted franchise has featured several memorable female characters, including Olga Kurylenko's Camille Montes and Gemma Arterton's Strawberry Fields in Quantum Of Solace. (Sadly, Skyfall was lacking in this area, featuring a rather forgettable performance by French actress Bérénice Lim Marlohe as the ill-fated Sévérine.)
Fortunately, Spectre co-stars Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux seem poised to deliver two of the most memorable performances by women in the Bond franchise. In advance of the film's premiere this coming November, MGM has posted a YouTube video of the two actresses discussing their respective characters. Here's the scoop:
Dr. Madeleine Swann
Played by: Léa Seydoux
Where you've seen her before: Opposite her Spectre co-star Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds; flirting with Owen Wilson in Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris; being a cold-stone assassin in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (ironically); romancing young Adèle in Blue Is The Warmest Color; as Tilda Swinton's maid in The Grand Budapest Hotel
Who is Madeleine Swann? "She's a doctor, she's intelligent, and a very sensitive and human character," according to Seydoux. A psychologist working at a private clinic in the Alps, Madeleine is also (potential spoiler!) the daughter of Quantum leader Mr. White, played by Jesper Christensen in both Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace. (End spoiler.)
Why she's exciting: As a successful doctor, we know right off the bat that Madeleine is intelligent — and not in that unbelievable Denise-Richards-as-a-nuclear-physicist kind of way. Spectre director Sam Mendes claims the character is "pivotal" and describes her as "soulful, feisty, and complicated." In the clip, it seems as though she first meets Bond on a train, which is reminiscent of the spy's fateful first encounter with Vesper Lynd back in Casino Royale.
Played by: Monica Bellucci
Where you've seen her before: In the traumatizing French film Irréversible; stirring up trouble as Persephone in The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions; following Jesus as Mary Magdalene in The Passion Of The Christ; terrorizing Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as an evil queen in The Brothers Grimm
Who is Lucia Sciarra? "She's an Italian widow with secrets. Her mafioso husband was killed, and she risks the same thing happening to her," Bellucci says. Lucia's relationship with Bond is bound to be complicated since (potential spoiler!) he's the one who killed her spouse. (End spoilers.)
Why she's exciting: Not only does Mendes describe Lucia has having "great mystery" and "depths," but, at the age of 50, Bellucci is the oldest Bond "girl" in history. She trumps the previous record holder — Goldfinger's Honor Blackman (as Pussy Galore) — by 11 years. She's also three years older than Bond himself (Daniel Craig is 47). In a franchise known for casting pretty young things, it's nice to see the script aiming for a female character with more maturity this time around.
Spectre will cast its shadow on Nov. 6, 2015. Check out the inside look below.
Images: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (2)