Angelina Jolie: The Bond Girl That Never Was
Angelina Jolie, with her commanding presence and penchant for steering cinema’s spotlight, did something most wouldn’t even dare. The A-list Hollywood star turned down the role of a Bond girl.
As the iconic James Bond character underwent a transition from Pierce Brosnan’s urbane charm to Daniel Craig’s steely resolve in 2006’s Casino Royale, another subtle revolution was underway. Gone were the glib remarks that some say courted the edge of misogyny, making way for a Bond more rooted in the here and now.
Yet, amidst this transformation, the allure of the Bond girl persisted. For many, it represented timeless elegance and a badge of honour in cinematic history. To be christened a Bond girl was to join a legacy of iconic figures, celebrated for their unique roles alongside the world’s most famous spy, even if their role often leaned too heavily on Bond’s charm.
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No to Vesper Lynd But Yes to Evelyn Salt
By 2005, Angelina Jolie had ascended to arguably the pinnacle of Hollywood stardom. Fresh off her indomitable run as the iconic Tomb Raider, she was in the enviable position of cherry-picking roles. Yet, she sidestepped what countless actresses might consider a dream.
Martin Campbell, directing this rebooted Bond vision, sought a marquee name for the pivotal role of Vesper Lynd. And although Eva Green masterfully filled those shoes, the most tantalising story remains the woman who didn’t: Angelina Jolie.
Recounting a rather intriguing conversation with Amy Pascal of Sony Pictures, Jolie explained how a call from Pascal “if I wanted to play a Bond girl. I said, ‘No, I’m not comfortable with that, but I would like to play Bond.’”
While the very thought of Jolie donning Bond’s sharp tux might have amused both parties, Pascal saw beyond the jest. And a year or so later, she cast Jolie not as James Bond, but as the gritty, resilient Evelyn Salt.
“Salt is nothing like Bond,” Jolie said, pulling no punches. “In so many films, women are femme fatales, and we wanted to avoid that. My character doesn’t use her sexuality to get anything. It’s the roughest I’ve looked. When we fight, it gets ugly. Somebody breaks my nose in the film. It’s not pretty.”
Reflecting on her cinematic journey, Jolie mused, “I think when people write things for women – at least with the films I’ve done in the past, such as Tomb Raider – they’re not serious. They’re not raw. They’re not hard. So when we wanted a real female action hero, we looked towards something that wasn’t written for a woman.”
In Retrospect: Breaking Moulds and Ceilings
Angelina Jolie’s brave decision to sidestep a role alongside Bond stemmed from her reservations about being pigeonholed. Even as the Bond girl archetype has undergone evolution, Jolie’s decision carved a path for her unique espionage narrative.
By portraying the relentless, dauntless Evelyn Salt, she showcased that turning down the ‘Bond girl’ mantle was not a retreat but a pivot. And in doing so, she reimagined the action-hero mold, showcasing that sometimes, the allure of crafting your own story surpasses joining an established one.