Sévérine: From Sex Worker to Anti-Heroine Bond Girl
Sévérine is an intriguing and complex character, known for her enigmatic nature, and captivating allure. She bears the burden of her complicated past as a representative for the menacing Raoul Silva, a notorious terrorist and member of Spectre.
James Bond first comes across Sévérine as she’s helping French terrorist Patrice in an assassination mission targeting an art dealer. From a strategically positioned apartment opposite Patrice, Sévérine lures the dealer to an expansive window, setting up the perfect line of sight for Patrice.
Following Patrice’s successful execution, Bond intercepts, disarming Patrice and demands answers about his employers. But Patrice refuse to utter a word, and plunges from the building to his death.
Alone in the apartment, Sévérine witnesses this unexpected development. After casting a menacing glance towards Bond, she quickly leaves to rejoin her security team.
Looking through Patrice’s briefcase, Bond discovers a poker chip from a Macau casino. Intent on unmasking Patrice’s employer, Bond decides to visit the casino, cash the chip and draw attention to himself.
Knowing Bond has the bag and casino chip. Sévérine patiently anticipates Bond’s arrival at the Macau casino to claim its earnings. Noticing Sévérine elegantly poised against a staircase banister, Bond’s arrival doesn’t escape her notice. She tells her guards, she’ll handle Bond personally, and she joins him on the casino floor where she invites him to share a drink.
As they get to know each other over drinks at the bar, all under the watchful eyes of her guards, their conversation unravels more about their identities. While Bond sports his trademark Walther and tuxedo, Sévérine reveals her hidden weapon – a Beretta 70 strapped to her thigh.
Their verbal dance of outwitting one another takes a turn when Bond discloses his real intention: to meet Sévérine’s boss. Suddenly, a more cautious and wary side of Sévérine surfaces as she advises him to be wary of his desires.
Bond, upon closer observation, spots a tattoo on her wrist, a telltale sign of her past involvement with the Macau sex trade. He concludes that she was rescued by her current employer, and now acts as his emissary. Bond offers her a chance at escape, proposing that they team up to reveal the face behind the shadows.
Placing her trust in Bond, Sévérine warns him that her guards’ are intending to kill him outside. She suggests that if he survives their attempt, he can find her on her yacht, the Chimera. From there, they would set sail to Raoul Silva‘s island lair, bringing Bond face-to-face with her enigmatic employer.
Raoul Silva’s Hashima Island
Sévérine is overjoyed to see James Bond survived the assassination attempt outside the casino, as he heads to her yacht, and they spend the night together.
As morning dawns, Sévérine nervously watches the looming form of Silva’s base on Hashima Island. Bond accompanies her on the deck, before they’re overwhelmed, by Silva’s armed men on the boat to ensure there’s no turning back.
Now restrained with handcuffs, 007 and Sévérine are ushered through the desolate streets of the deserted island. Sévérine reveals to Bond that the island was once bustling with life until Silva fabricated a chemical plant leak, causing a mass exodus.
Aware of Silva’s manipulative strategies, Sévérine cautions Bond that Silva usually attains his desired outcomes. As Bond is escorted to meet Silva, Sévérine is beaten for her betrayal.
After an intense interrogation by Silva’s, Bond is led outside to see Sévérine, bruised and chained to a statue, while a vintage French song, “Boum!” by Charles Trenet, plays in stark contrast over the island’s speakers.
Silva places a glass of scotch on Sévérine’s head, hands Bond an Antique Percussion Cap Pistol, and dares him to knock the glass off – an eerie jest at Bond’s recent less-than-stellar marksmanship.
Bond points the pistol away and shoots, firing far to her left. However, Silva takes the gun and nonchalantly fires it and lands a deadly shot squarely on her head, killing Sévérine’s on the spot.
Bérénice Lim Marlohe, a French actress of Cambodian-Chinese descent, initially had dreams of becoming a pianist and artist. She transitioned into acting, starting with minor roles in French TV series.
Her belief in fate manifested when she dreamt of working with Javier Bardem six months before landing the role of Bond girl Sévérine in Bond 23, Skyfall, which catapulted her to international fame. As an admirer of the James Bond franchise, Marlohe was particularly drawn to Bond’s adversaries, specifically lauding Grace Jones‘ portrayal of May Day in A View to a Kill (1985).
Marlohe also counts Xenia Onatopp from GoldenEye (1995), as her favorite Bond girl and credits Famke Janssen‘s portrayal of the character as a major influence in shaping her own interpretation of Sévérine.
Despite her success, Marlohe remained committed to her acting career, participating in various projects such as the French comedy Happiness Never Comes Alone, the crime series R.I.S, Police Scientifique, and international ventures like 5 to 7 and Terrence Malick’s experimental film Song to Song.
Since 2012, Bérénice Marlohe has also been an ambassador for Omega Watches.