Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton Interview

Female Bond-ing

British beauty Gemma Arterton dishes on what Daniel Craig did to send shivers up her spine and what it really feels like to be an iconic Bond Girl in Quantum of Solace

By Bonnie Laufer-Krebs

You beat out about 1500 girls for this role! How did you catch director Mark Forster's eye?
Arterton: I have this attitude to life that is not to take anything too seriously and not worry about anything, and when I met him I wasn't too nervous and I was being myself. The character I play in the film is funny. She's charming, cheeky and sparky and even though she is quite professional and straight-laced, she has this glimmer in her eye of naughtiness, and I think that's what it was.

Then you had to screen test with Daniel Craig.
Arterton: That's right. It was nerve-racking, actually. It's a surreal thing because you are there and made up and dressed up as if you're making the film. You do the scene, which is going to be in the film, and I met him and I'm working with the director, and so it is different to just a normal audition. It was great and I had fun that day even though I was so sort of pleased when it was over to get through it. I didn't realize at the time that usually they screen test a number of actresses for the part, but they only tested me. So I think they knew then they wanted me to do it, and I wish they told me because I wouldn't have been so nervous. That was quite funny.

Can you recall when you actually got that phone call telling you that you got the role?
Arterton: Actually, it is a real moment in my life because I was on this boat in the middle of the ocean scuba diving for this film I did, and I was with actor Mackenzie Cook, who is in it as well, and I didn't have my phone on me. The producer of the film handed me over this phone and said "someone is on the phone for you Gemma," and here I am completely in all of the scuba gear on with the tank on, and a helmet. My agent just went "dum, dum, dum, dum"(hums Bond theme song), and I just knew then, and I went ahhhh madness, and I was over the moon,

Your character Agent Fields is working side by side with James Bond. Tell me about her.
Arterton: She works for the British consulate in Bolivia, which is where Bond ends up going and he gets into trouble. I'm sent to send Bond back home, but obviously he is Bond, and he charms me much against my wishes, even though she privately does fancy him. We have this banter and my character is very much like miss money penny and she is quite sort of straight laced and very professional but she is not very good at keeping her cool, and she is doing her very best to kind of control Bond and get him to do what she wants, but obviously doesn't. He is James Bond and he does whatever he wants. It's quite charming actually the relationship we have and the film itself is very modern and quite serious in tone and it is a revenge film, so it is very forward pushing all the time and very fast. My character is a homage to the 1960s original Fleming-type Bond girl and definitely the way she looks. She is just fun and lovely and I hope people like her.

Do you have a favorite Bond girl?
Arterton: I think my favorite is Honor Blackman because she is classy and she is British. With Bond, I love how British it is actually. She is classy and clever and smart and sharp.

So what was it like shooting your first scene with Daniel Craig?
Arterton: Actually, the first shot I did with Daniel was the love scene. It was quite good to do that first otherwise I think I would have built myself up into a frenzy! I just turned up and did it and it was brilliant. It was mad because you are suddenly on this set and it is huge and there are all these people. I have done those films before but nothing like that and it's quite incredible. And then Judi Dench was there and she is one of my favorite actresses, and I'm acting with her. She is so relaxed and so is Daniel, they are so relaxed. I don't know how they maintain that in such a huge film, but they do.

In the middle of your love scene were you thinking, "I'm actually kissing James Bond?"
Arterton: All the time. There is one scene where he is kissing up my back. It is really sexy and I didn't know he was going to do it. He started doing it and in the film you see me saying, whew, and that wasn't acting, that was really me thinking, whew, oh my goodness Daniel Craig is kissing my back! I really did. I had to stop and remind myself that I was playing a character and I was acting in a film.

Why do you think Daniel Craig makes such a great James Bond?
Arterton: He is mysterious, and I think that that's the thing Bond has to exude, that kind of mysterious edge. He draws you in, but he is also incredibly cool, you know, James Bond is cool and sharp and Daniel has that to a tee, and he's also got the rawness and an edginess to him that is slightly unhinged, and you're not sure what is going on there, and I think that is really intriguing and interesting. It is a lot weightier and gritty, and he has that.
He doesn't look bad in a bathing suit either. Arterton: No. Well that is a bonus! (laughs)

What is it like for you to have the Bond girl label? It's pretty iconic.
Arterton: It's brilliant. I grew up on Bond, and it is part of my culture, especially in Britain. Just to be known as a Bond girl is an incredible thing for me, because some of my favorite actresses have been Bond girls, like Diana Rigg and Honor Blackman, and they have continued to work and be brilliant. I am honored and flattered to be called that, even though I don't really think my character is Bond-girly, but I'm still going to be labeled as a Bond girl, which is completely brilliant.

I want to ask you about Mathieu Amalric who plays the baddie in the film. What was it like working with him? He is such a fabulous actor.
Arterton: He is just effortless. He makes it look so easy playing the villain, and the character he plays in particular is well known as a really nice guy. He is very intelligent and he knows his stuff and can bring that.

Are you ready for the onslaught of what will happen to you and the attention you will receive once Bond actually comes out?
Arterton: I don't know. I kind of feel like I can take it on, but you never know until these things happen to you. I am just going to take it in my stride and see what happens.

You are the new face of Avon for their new fragrance. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Arterton: I was approached by Avon which took me by surprise, cause I thought "why me?" I thought it would be Olga, but they wanted me to be the face of their fragrance and since filming Bond I have recorded an ad that looks great and obviously the stills. It's brilliant because I never thought I would get to do anything like that and it is a lovely opportunity. My mom used to sell Avon when my mom was a kid for about three years, and so it was like the first make up I saw. And when I first found out about makeup it was Avon makeup and I remember putting my mom's red lipstick on my cheeks and thinking that is where it went, and that was Avon. So it's weird how your life turns out and how things come round, and it is brilliant.

You're also going to be in Jerry Bruckheimer's new film Prince of Persia?
Arterton: Yes. It is a huge, massive movie, which is exciting and scary at the same time. We are shooting half of it in morocco and half of it at Pinewood Studios in London. Jake Gyllenhaal and I are the leads, and Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina. It is just amazing cast and a brilliant directors and actors and script. I think it is really going to be special.