Miss Moneypenny is one of the longest-running characters in the James Bond movie series. From her first appearance in the first Bond, Dr. No in 1962, to her most recent outing in No Time To Die, she has been a perpetual fixture, starring in almost every Bond movie as a steadfast ally to 007.
But who exactly is Miss Moneypenny? Is she a Bond girl? Well, she’s the personal secretary to M (Head of MI6), but with her wit and charm there’s always a flirty tension with her and Bond.
From Connery to Craig, the way Bonds and Moneypennys bounce off each other in every movie has made her a favourite among Bond fans. It’s clear they like each other, but is that as far as it goes? Does it ever get beyond professional between the two?
In this blog post we will explore her complex history of the character both on screen and on page. We’ll look at the actresses that have played the part of Miss Moneypenny and discuss how she has become integral to the story of the Bond universe.
So if you’re interested in getting to know one of cinema’s most endearing characters better, then read on.
Who is Miss Moneypenny?
Miss Moneypenny is the personal secretary to the Head of British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). She wasn’t given a first name in the Ian Fleming novels, but in the Miss Moneypenny Diaries spin off novels, she was called Jane.
But we don’t get her official first name until Skyfall in 2012, where we learn that she was called Eve, and it was the first time we’d heard a first name of her in any Bond movie.
It’s thought that Ian Fleming got the idea of Miss Moneypenny character from two women: old flame Joan Bright Astley and his personal assistant Kathleen Petrigrew.
Astley worked for MI6 during WWII and was known for her warm and welcoming demeanor when senior officers came to her office. And Kathleen Pettigrew was known for her wit and loyalty to Fleming while she worked for him.
Bond and Miss Moneypenny
From the moment Bond arrives in M’s office to meet Miss Moneypenny, an undeniable flirtatious energy ensues. The early movies capture this by having Bond kiss and caress her sensually, but there’s been a distance from this in recent times.
In recent movies there’s more of a lighthearted exchange of humour and sexual innuendos rather than physical affection. That said, the moment many Bond fans had been waiting for happened in Die Another Day as Bond and Miss Moneypenny share a kiss. Or did they?
Late one night, Bond visits Moneypenny, played by Samantha Bond, in her office and they embrace and share a passionate kisses and she pulls Bond by his tie as they both lay down on her desk and continue their passionate embrace.
The Q walks in looking shocked and appears to catch them, and confusingly questions ‘Moneypenny?’. She then jumps up from the floor and takes off the Virtual Reality glasses that she had been trying out.
She’s all flustered and her blouse is unbuttoned. Q is clearly confused, and Miss Moneypenny is embarrassed, but it’s a classic scene and arguably the best she has been in.
No Kiss But Plenty of Sexual Innuendos
This is the closest they have come to sharing a kiss, but despite never progressing beyond professional boundaries between them, it’s clear that Miss Moneypenny would like to become a Bond girl.
But the Bond and Miss Moneypenny flirtatious relationship has gone on through the decades, and brought some of Bond’s best one liners and plenty of innuendos.
Their relationship starts in Dr No, when Sean Connery as Bond enters the office and playfully dances with her while swirling in her office chair. She complains that he never takes her to dinner, but Bond tells her he would only but ‘M would have me court-martialled for illegal use of government property.’
From I Love You to an Independent Girl
Miss Moneypenny finally hopes to get Bond to tell her that he loves her in You Only Live Twice. The words ‘I love you’ are the secret password that Bond needs to remember. Moneypenny tells him and asks her to repeat it, but in typical Bond style, he tells her, ‘Don’t worry I’ve got it,’ before slipping away.
Although Miss Moneypenny always had wit and quick retorts, she was always the one who worshipped Bond and only Bond. And while this is still relatively true she became more independent in GoldenEye.
Played by new Moneypenny, Samantha Bond (ironically), she’s at MI6 HQ late one night in a nice evening gown, which Bond comments on, thinking she’s trying to impress him. She tells Bond with an attitude of independence that their work had interfered with her date and that she doesn’t wait for a reason ”to run down here all dressed up to impress James Bond.”
A Close Shave
Arguably Miss Moneypenny and James Bond’s raunchiest moment came in Skyfall. Now played by actress Naomie Harris, Miss Moneypenny barges into Bond’s hotel room in Shanghai and finds him recovering from an injury, she doesn’t simply offer her support like other characters have done.
The two discuss their past and future as well as the mission at hand. Then after Bond’s initial attempt to shave himself fails, Miss Moneypenny steps in with a razor blade and proceeds to expertly remove his stubble.
As she works her magic, tension begins to build between them, and they exchange meaningful glances getting very close to each other. The scene ends with Miss Moneypenny giving Bond a tender kiss on the forehead as a sign of her devotion to him.
This along with the VR kiss scene is the most intimate moment between the two and showed the deep bond between Miss Moneypenny and Bond, signalling to viewers their importance and connection to each other.
Miss Moneypenny Actresses
Miss Moneypenny has been played by 4 actresses, 6 if you include the unofficial Bond movies. Let’s take a closer look at each actress…
Lois Maxwell was the first Miss Moneypenny actress, and the longest in the role starring in 14 Bond movies from 1962 to 1985. She worked with 3 Bonds: Connery, Lazenby and Moore.
Because of her longevity in the role, Lois Maxwell is the actress generally considered the face of Miss Moneypenny. The Canadian actress never spoke with a British accent even though Moneypenny is British in the novels.
Lois Maxwell got the job as Moneypenny after she requested a job, as she was short of money. She was guaranteed a minimum £200 for 2 days work, but had to supply her own clothes.
During her time as Miss Moneypenny she took on other work of course. She starred in British TV series The Saint and The Pretenders both of which starred future Bond, Roger Moore.
Maxwell also played a part in Operation Kid Brother, a James Bond spoof, that starred Sean Connery’s younger brother Neil. She wasn’t Miss Moneypenny in the movie but portrayed her known mannerisms and attitude. Connery was said to be angry with Maxwell for this.
In her last role as Moneypenny in A View to a Kill, the producer wanted the character to be killed off, but they chose to change actresses as they had done with Bonds.
Caroline Bliss was the second Miss Moneypenny actress and the shortest serving in the role. Many regarded it as an impossible role to fill after Maxwell’s exit, but she did an admirable job alongside new Bond Timothy Dalton for the 2 movies they both starred in.
Caroline Bliss is a British actress, and initially trained as a dancer before pursuing an acting career. She had her first appearance on stage at the age of 8. Ironically, she went to the same school, albeit a year above, as her successor as Moneypenny, Samantha Bond.
After appearing in various television series throughout the 1980s, Caroline eventually scored her breakthrough role playing Miss Moneypenny. Although her roles were limited in both her appearances, she did “jokingly” try and entice Bond to her place by inviting him ‘to come over and hear my Barry Manilow collection…’ after Bond asked for information on a cellist.
To this day , Caroline continues to work both on stage and screen, but she hasn’t found any elevated success such as the prestige and exposure of a Bond movie.
Samantha Bond took over the role of Miss Moneypenny from lifelong friend Caroline Bliss, making her debut in the 1995 Goldeneye movie alongside new Bond Pierce Brosnan. She remained as Moneypenny until 2002 and starred in all four of Brosnan’s Bond movies.
She was born in London on 27 November 1961, and grew up around the theatre. She attended the same school as her friend and predecessor to the role of Moneypenny, Caroline Bliss.
She had a successful career in TV and on the stage before she took on the role as Miss Moneypenny actress. She decided to hang up her typewriter at the same time as Pierce Brosnan finished as Bond in 2002.
She had plenty of exposure over the 7 years, but her most memorable was when she and Bond got passionate one night after the secret agent visited her office. It was the first ever onscreen kiss that Bond and Moneypenny had shared. Unfortunately for her and Bond fans, it was all in her vision through the VR glasses that she was trying out for Q.
She had many memorable scenes, however. One in The World is Not Enough in which Bond walks into her office, she asks if he’d brought her a souvenir back from his trip. He abruptly put a large metallic case cigar on her desk, which had the shape of a sex toy.
‘I know where to put that,’ she said teasingly, before expertly throwing it in the bin. ‘Oh Moneypenny,’ Bond retorts. ‘The story of our relationship: close but no cigar.’
Naomie Harris is an English actress who became the fourth actress to take on the Miss Moneypenny role. She was born in London on September 6, 1976, and studied social and political sciences at the University of Cambridge.
After graduating, Harris began her acting career with a series of stage roles, including productions of Hamlet and The Importance of Being Earnest. She made her film debut in 2002 and went on to star in several movies including Pirates of The Caribbean and Miami Vice before starring as Moneypenny.
She became the first black actress to play Miss Moneypenny, after the character hadn’t appeared in Daniel Craig’s first 2 Bond movies Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
Her role as Moneypenny breathes new life into the character, transforming her from a mere secretary to an MI6 field agent and Bond’s agile partner in crime-fighting. In her debut role in Skyfall she almost kills Bond, when she’s forced by M to shoot down a suspect from distance while Bond is in the line of fire, potentially killing him.
She does some more field work in Macau with Bond, but at the end of the movie she realises she isn’t cut out for work as a spy and so takes on the desk job as M’s secretary. A job she has maintained since.
Miss Moneypenny Random Facts
In the first draft of the Casino Royale novel, Miss Moneypenny’s name was Miss Petty Pettaval.
Lois Maxwell was paid more for starring in Bond spoof movie Operation Kid Brother than she was for playing Miss Moneypenny in all her 14 Bond movies.
Lois Maxwell was offered the role of either Miss Moneypenny or Sylvia Trench, but requested M’s secretary because she was uncomfortable with the scenes that Trench had as a Bond girl.
To further set herself apart from Lois Maxwell’s portrayal of Miss Moneypenny, Caroline Bliss chose to wear glasses for her role.
Samantha Bond quit as Moneypenny in 2002, but later appeared in the role alongside Roger Moore in a commercial for the 2012 London Olympics.
Naomie Harris was the first Miss Moneypenny to be given a first name. Eve made her debut in Skyfall in 2012.
In the 1990s at the height of the rave scene, a nightclub in Birmingham opened and named Miss Moneypenny’s. It became one of the biggest clubs in the country with top DJs from around the world playing there.
Miss Moneypenny – Only a professional Relationship Allowed
Miss Moneypenny is an iconic character in the Bond series. Played by 4 different actresses, she has been present since the first movie, Dr. No, and starred in nearly every movie since.
Although her role in each film varies slightly, she typically provides comic relief and serves as a love interest for James Bond. Miss Moneypenny may be a personal assistant, but she more than a stereotypical secretary.
An example of a strong female character who stands up for herself, and her presence in the series has made a huge impact on Bond fans. Her role as M’s loyal secretary and Bond’s love interest remains unique and timeless, making her an irreplaceable part of the Bond movies.