Spectre's Léa Seydoux Talks Being A Bond Girl & That Sexist Tweet

Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures.
Léa Seydoux likes that the Bond girl she plays in Spectre turns down 007 — at least at first.

"I love when she says, 'You think I’m going to fall into your arms,'" Seydoux told us during a recent phone chat. "She’s like, 'Okay, you think you’re going to have sex with me, but no, it’s not going to happen.'" Of course, Bond and her character do wind up getting busy. "How can you resist Bond?" Seydoux said.

Yes, Spectre adheres to some familiar tropes. But Seydoux, the French actress best known in the U.S. for 2013's Blue Is Warmest Color, defends what she calls her character's "depth." Seydoux plays Madeleine Swann, a doctor who is the daughter of a former 007 foe. Bond vows to protect Madeleine, who, in turn, helps lead him to Christoph Waltz’s nasty Franz Oberhauser.

Being a woman in a Bond movie means contending with Bond's misogynistic legacy, and Seydoux was served a heaping dose of sexism when the writer who profiled her for Vogue U.K. tweeted about hoping to "shag" her. (The tweet was then deleted.) We asked her about that and more.

When you were first approached to star in Spectre, did you have any trepidation about playing a woman in a Bond movie?
"Yeah, I have to say I was very surprised, of course in a good way. I was quite anxious to work with such an amazing team and Daniel [Craig], because I’m a huge fan of his work. I was a little nervous, but very excited also. I got the chance to rehearse with everybody before. I spent a month and a half in London in the the 007 studios. I just rehearsed, and learned the choreography for the action scenes. I immersed myself in the world of James Bond."

Did you go back and watch some of the older films?
"Of course, I knew James Bond, but for me, Daniel is the Bond of my generation. I was blown away when I saw Casino Royale, I thought it was great. I love this film. It was more than an action film for me. I think that Daniel brings something new to this character. He’s a deeper character and more human in a way. There’s something dark about the film and more psychological also."

Do you have favorite female character in the history of Bond?
"I love Eva Green, I have to say. The relationship between her character [Vesper Lynd] and James Bond in Casino Royale — I love the love story, this impossible love between them. I have to say that it was the first time that we were able to see a real female character. She’s my favorite."

Madeleine seems like someone who follows along in Vesper’s footsteps, even though — spoiler! — Madeleine lives. Might we see more of her?
"I would love to. I don’t know, you know? Nobody knows. Maybe, if they ask me I would love to do it again."

It’s really interesting how Madeleine knows how to wield a gun and fight, but chooses not to. What do you think that says about her?
"I think what’s interesting about my character is she’s not impressed by Bond. Her father is an assassin, so she knows this world. When she meets Bond for the first time, she doesn’t want to be part of this world. That’s what I like; I like the contradiction. She has to go with him on the journey because she wants to know what happened to her father. It becomes a choice to follow Bond. I think it’s nice to see that she’s equal in the way that she’s smart and she knows how to protect herself. She’s not a woman in distress. But in a way, she needs to be saved as well."

Monica Bellucci described her character as a Bond woman, not a Bond girl. How would you describe Madeleine?
"It’s the first time I think we see a character that’s James Bond’s equal. She doesn’t need him. I think it’s a good representation to have a character like this, to see a tough woman who’s not just an object of desire. You don’t see her in bathing suits. She’s smart, and then they fall in love. For me, it’s more than just a beautiful face. She’s sensitive, and for me that’s beauty."

Daniel Craig recently called Bond a “misogynist.”Do you think that’s accurate?
"Yeah, he is. That’s the character, how he’s portrayed in film. I think that’s why we like him as well. He’s not perfect. He has many faults. He’s alcoholic. He kills people. I think that’s why we like him. He’s an anti-hero. It’s the difference between a character like Ethan Hunt from Mission: Impossible. Ethan Hunt, you don’t see his failures in a way. What we like about James Bond is the fact that we have access to his emotions and that makes him human. Yeah, he’s a misogynist, but I think he falls in love with Madeleine. Yeah, he’s not perfect, but that’s what we like. I think perfect is very boring."

It’s funny you mention Mission: Impossible, because there was a lot of talk over the summer about Rebecca Ferguson in Rogue Nation, and the roles women play in action films. How do you see Madeleine fitting into that discussion?
"She’s a hero in a way, Rebecca, because she’s very strong. Madeleine is not a hero and she’s not an action girl. She’s a doctor. That’s what I like about her. In this action film, we have a real character. She’s very different from Bond. She doesn’t want to have this life. She doesn’t want to save anyone. She has her own issues with her father as well, like Bond. I think they are connected because of that. In a way, they have problems in common. I think it’s very new for an action film to have a woman where women can project themselves in Madeleine."

You think women can see themselves in Madeleine? The idea of the Bond girl has been this idealized beauty.
"She has her own story. That’s what I like about this character. She has depth. To see something deep and sensitive in this kind of film, I think it’s very revolutionary in a way. I think it’s because of [director] Sam Mendes also. It has texture. It’s more than just an image of the action girl. I think he really created a real character."

There was a bit of a media scandal after Giles Coren, who profiled you for Vogue U.K., tweeted out: “In the new Vogue I suck up to Bond girl Léa Seydoux by saying Bond is sexist while quietly hoping she might shag me.” What was your reaction to that, if you even heard about it.
"No, I didn’t know. I didn’t know. (laughs) What did he say?"

He tweeted out the profile he'd written about you —
"The British Vogue?"

The British Vogue.
"Oooh, yeah. The article was terrible. I think it’s very...uninteresting. I really thought this article was uninteresting. And I heard later that he writes for food, you know? Food guides. [Ed. note: Coren is a restaurant critic.]

And you hadn't heard about the tweet?
"No, the tweet? What is the tweet?"

[A publicist cuts in and tells us to wrap up the interview.]

"I will check this out! Thank you so much. Thank you, bye!"

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