The new James Bond film Skyfall has added yet another Bond girl, upping the count to three. And yet, only one is vaguely recognizable to mainstream American audiences: Naomie Harris, whose popularity is niche at best thanks to her badass role in 28 Days Later ten years ago. The other two are complete unknowns: French actress/model Bérénice Marlohe and Greek actress Tonia Sotiropoulou (who lost out on the role to Bérénice but apparently impressed director Sam Mendes so much that he found a role for her).
I’ve been seeing the Bond films since I was a little kid; my dad and I would go together as part of father-daughter bonding. With that in mind, my experience with the franchise stretches back only so far as 1995′s GoldenEye, which had Pierce Brosnan tangling with Famke Janssen and Minnie Driver. It would seem that in the past 17 years, each Bond movie has utilized female actresses who are already well established and take this campy project as an opportunity to expand their versatility or simply step outside their normal roles.
This strategy can be a career boost, or it can backfire majorly: We’ll never forget Halle Berry‘s infamous bathing suit scene from Die Another Day, but at the same time we’ll forever mock Denise Richards for playing nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough. Still, the actress’ presence is a treat for audiences, something we’re losing with Skyfall since we’ll be groping for any pre-existing information about Bérénice and Tonia to help us in our enjoyment of the film.
In a franchise where your hero is relatively fixed, you wait eagerly to find out who they’ve cast opposite him, which popular actress will dip her toes into the pool in which Daniel Craig or Brosnan is already swimming. Same with the theme song—once we hear that Madonna or Garbage is recording the song that will sum up that movie’s adventures, we ruminate on what it’ll be like based on our prior knowledge of the artist.
Perhaps it’s not such a big deal whether or not we know the Bond girls in this flick, since the woman occupying Bond’s attention is M (Judi Dench). As the official synopsis teases, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. And not many women can stand up to Dame Judi.