Natalya Simonova: Geeky Hacker to Bond Girl
Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova, a skilled Russian programmer, and a sole survivor from a massacre at work, later teams up with Bond in his investigation of the Janus Crime Syndicate.
Brought to life by the talented Polish-Swedish actress, model, and singer Izabella Scorupco in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, Natalya Simonova’s intelligence and bravery left an indelible mark on the franchise, making her one of the most popular Bond girls in the franchise’s history.
Almost Executed at Work
Natalya Simonova is a Level 2 programmer for the guidance system at the Severnaya Satellite Control Center. She maintains a close friendship with Anna Nishkov and tolerates Boris Grishenko, a not-so-popular colleague. Nevertheless, Simonova exercises patience with him, viewing Grishenko more as an annoying little brother.
Unknown to Simonova and her colleagues, Grishenko secretly collaborates with the Janus Crime Syndicate, led by the ex-MI6 agent Alec Trevelyan. Trevelyan deploys agents General Ourumov, a traitorous Russian army member, and Xenia Onatopp, a disturbed individual with a lethal sexual appetite, to pilfer the deadly satellite weapon system known as GoldenEye.
Simonova finds herself in the kitchen brewing coffee just as Grishenko absconds. He flees aboard a purloined Tiger Eurocopter before General Ourumov and Xenia Onatopp begin their onslaught.
Observing Xenia’s murderous rampage, Simonova attempts to flee but she makes a noise, which draw s Onatopp’s attention, prompting her to fire at a ventilation shaft, where she believes the noise came from.
Luckily, Simonova had taken refuge in a cupboard. She then watches helplessly as Ourumov and Onatopp procure the three keys required to deploy the weapon, activating the Petya satellite, set to target Severnaya itself.
Left alone amidst the chaos, Simonova narrowly escapes the electromagnetic pulse that obliterates the control center. Discovering Nishkov’s lifeless body, she respectfully covers it with a coat.
Her path to the outside world is through the control center satellite, which has crashed through the ceiling due to the destruction. Navigating through the snowy night, she calls for Grishenko, unaware of his earlier escape.
Fortunately, she encounters a group of sled dogs that have survived the assault, having been far from the center during the attack. With their help, she manages to return to St. Petersburg.
Betrayed by Boris Grishenko
Upon reaching St. Petersburg, Natalya Simonova uses a computer to communicate with Boris Grishenko, informing him about General Ourumov’s assault.
Grishenko directs her to a cathedral rendezvous point, but her collegaue has set her up and she’s handed over to Xenia Onatopp. Shortly after, Simonova finds herself ensnared in a hijacked Tiger helicopter alongside MI6 operative, James Bond 007. Both are prisoners of Janus, but manage to escape the self-destructing helicopter thanks to Bond’s quick thinking.
After this, the Russian government apprehends and moves them to the Russian military archives for interrogation by the Minister of Defence, Dmitri Mishkin. Bond maintains his innocence, disclosing his ongoing investigation into the GoldenEye theft and suggesting internal treason.
Simonova, however, chooses silence over confession. Bond then confronts Simonova, insisting her knowledge of the situation is more extensive, offering help if she confides in him. Faced with no alternatives, Natalya confides in Bond about the devastation of Sevenaya and Grishenko’s disloyalty.
The conversation is interrupted by Mishkin’s entrance. A debate ensues between Bond and Mishkin until Simonova interjects, revealing that Ourumov is the GoldenEye thief. Mishkin is on the verge of liberating them when Ourumov storms in, rebukes Mishkin for his treachery, and murders him, laying the blame on Bond.
Trevelyan Takes Her Prisoner
In the chaos that follows, Bond battles through the guards, with Simonova tagging along. However, she stumbles from a precarious catwalk into Ourumov’s clutches, who takes her to Trevelyan’s Armored Train.
Onboard, she encounters Alec Trevelyan, who shares tales of his former bond with 007 and then provokes her. Natlaya Simonova is enraged and retaliates by slapping him and denouncing him as a “Svinya,” a Russian term for a pig.
Meanwhile, Bond commandeers a Russian T-55 Tank to cut off the train. Despite Trevelyan handing Simonova over to Ourumov and instructing the driver to collide with the tank, Bond manages to derail the train.
As Bond boards the train and confronts Trevelyan and Onatopp, Ourumov escorts Simonova in. Trevelyan challenges Bond to choose between Simonova’s life and the mission. Bond seemingly sacrifices Simonova, which clearly disgusts Natalya.
However, Bond turns the tables by slaying Ourumov when the execution order is given. In the turmoil, Trevelyan and Onatopp escape, locking Bond and Simonova inside the train, leaving them with a three-minute countdown before a bomb blows it up.
While Bond uses his Laser Wristwatch to carve an escape route, Simonova infiltrates Grishenko’s network, uncovering Trevelyan’s base location. Despite Grishenko’s attempts to sabotage her efforts, she discovers the base is in Cuba. And just as the bomb is about to go off, Bond snatches Simonova, and they narrowly evade the explosion.
Taking Down the Janus Crime Syndicate
Natalya then heads to Cuba with Bond, where Jack Wade, a CIA contact of Bond’s, welcomes them. He provides them with a plane and alerts them to Alec Trevelyan’s knowledge of their impending arrival.
Later, on a moonlit beach, Simonova probes into Bond’s capacity to kill Trevelyan, his former friend turned foe. She is perturbed by the brutal world she’s stepped into and Bond’s apparent professional detachment.
Bond explains it as his survival strategy, but Simonova tells him it will keep him isolated. Their intense conversation transitions into a passionate kiss and they end up making love.
The following day, Bond and Simonova head to Trevelyan’s base, but their plane is brought down by a missile. They crash land safely, but the fall leaves them both unconscious. As they regain consciousness, they’re ambushed by Xenia Onatopp, who descends from a helicopter.
Onatopp lunges at Bond, so Natalya tries to intervene but is promptly headbutted to the ground by Onatopp, who instructs her to wait her turn. Bond swiftly reattaches the rappelling rope to Onatopp’s safety harness and uses her AK-74 Rifle to shoot the helicopter’s cockpit, causing fatal damage.
As the helicopter plummets to the ground, it drags the screaming Onatopp along, eventually trapping her in the branches of a tree, killing her on the spot before the helicopter explodes.
In the meantime, Trevelyan and Grishenko have readied the antenna, planning to obliterate the U.K. economy by setting off GoldenEye’s other satellite, Mischa. This would wipe out all evidence of their theft and cause extensive economic damage.
Simonova and Bond locate the base entrance, cleverly hidden beneath the Cuban ocean, and narrowly evade Trevelyan’s guards.
As Bond installs explosives on the volatile tanks within the base, Natalya Simonova slips into the control room of the mainframe. She hacks into Grishenko’s system, altering the satellite’s access codes.
However, the guards discover her just as she hacks the system, and bring her to Trevelyan, who’s also captured Bond by now. On seeing Grishenko, Natalya slaps him in fury and attempts to attack him further before the guards hold her back.
In response to her attack, Grishenko warns her sternly against doing it again. Disgusted, Simonova reveals her loathing for his betrayal, blaming him for the potential deaths his twisted games will cause. As he threatens her with a clenched fist, Trevelyan holds him back, instructing him to check the system hasn’t been hacked.
Grishenko dismisses Simonova as a mere second-level programmer incapable of causing damage. Yet, to his surprise, he finds that the satellite has already been set for re-entry and will burn over the Atlantic.
Furious, Grishenko informs Trevelyan that Simonova has changed the access codes. In turn, Trevelyan points a gun at Bond, threatening Simonova to undo her actions. But she echoes Bond’s earlier defiance, stating that they can shoot Bond as he means nothing to her.
Boris claims he can crack her codes, but when he struggles, he demands Simonova to give him the codes while holding Bond’s explosive pen that can be armed and disarmed with three clicks. Seizing the opportunity, Bond flings the pen amongst the canisters, triggering a destructive blast in the control room.
Bond and Simonova then escape via an elevator. Bond then takes out a guard and hands Simonova the guard’s weapon for protection, instructing her to stay hidden while he deals with the transmitter. Grishenko, however, manages to reboot the system and begins reprogramming the satellite to its original target.
While Bond engages Trevelyan and sabotages the antenna, Simonova boards a helicopter dispatched to retrieve Trevelyan. Holding the pilot at gunpoint, Natalya watches as Bond sends Trevelyan falling to the dish and to his death.
Meanwhile, Bond’s interference causes the Mischa satellite to spiral out of control and explode in space, leaving Grishenko devastated. Simonova then orders the helicopter pilot to rescue Bond from the antenna just as it explodes and collapses.
After landing at a secluded location, Natalya Simonova and Bond share a tender moment, only to be interrupted by Jack Wade and a team of American soldiers, who’ve arrived for their rescue and to arrange their transfer.
Izabella Scorupco, a Polish-born Swedish-American actress, singer, and model, is famed for her role as Bond girl Natalya Simonova in GoldenEye (1995). Born in Białystok, Poland in 1970, she moved to Sweden at a young age following her parents’ separation.
She rose to fame in the late 1980s as a model and actress, and quickly gained international fame as Bond Girl, Natalya Simonova. Afterwards, a number of films followed, including With Fire and Sword, Vertical Limit, Reign of Fire, and Exorcist: The Beginning.
Apart from acting, she enjoyed a successful, albeit brief, stint as a pop singer in the early 90s, releasing a gold-certified album. She returned to music in 2011, collaborating with Peter Jöback. Scorupco has also hosted Sweden’s Next Top Model and appeared in a romantic comedy. Her most recent acting performance was in the 2018 film, The Undreaming of Anna Bell Zeigler.