April 1, 2015
Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike in Die Another Day. 'Pike has also been a Bond girl. This idea is the stuff of dreams.' Photograph: Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar
The election campaign can stop here. There is not going to be a better idea. The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, thinks Rosamund Pike should be the next Bond. This is, simply, the perfect proposal – perfect for Bond and incidentally pretty good as a piece of political positioning, all the better for looking like the sort of off-the-cuff idea you would like your prime minister to be capable of having.
Pike is surely out in front as the actor of her generation. Most recently she was in Gone Girl as the woman who sat down and invented her life and also her husband’s; plausible, irresistible and icily cruel as she plotted the perfect revenge.
She was beautiful and funny in Lynn Barber’s wonderful film, An Education, in which she pulled off the even trickier feat of being thick too. She’s as brilliant on stage. Her genius was first confirmed to me when I saw her in the title role of the weird Madame de Sade at the Donmar Warehouse, subtly commanding attention even alongside Judi Dench.
Describing her like that makes her sound a bit overqualified for Bond. But Daniel Craig’s Bond is a more intelligent, nuanced creation than his predecessors, and the franchise would not be half as successful if it did not mature to keep pace with the more complex and demanding thrillers out there in the market. Pike could raise the bar. Or not. Stay with it, Sam Mendes, please.
There is, purists will argue, the gender thing. So far, the feminist revolution has been largely limited to comics. We pointed out last week that there is a thing going on in that world with feminist superheroes. If Thor can be a woman, so can Bond. (Idris Elba could obviously be Bond too, but that is a different piece).
What would be dazzlingly transformative about Pike as Bond is the effect on the mental landscape. The whole James Bond proposition is constructed around the idea of women as throwaway accessories, baubles recruited exclusively for what they say about Bond himself. It is true that Craig’s Bond has occasionally shown an approach marginally more evolved than the caveman, but still women are there – except Dench, who is M as in Mother – purely instrumentally.
Pike’s Bond would turn the whole premise on its head. Even better, she would do it completely differently. Pike as Bond would obviously be smart enough to crack a cypher, tough enough to withstand being doused repeatedly in icy water, and ruthless enough to make use as necessary of her licence to kill. While retaining the capacity to make dry asides about the gruesome fate of her enemies, she would not be casually exploitative of the people around her, or if she was, then only because it was a necessary, if nasty, aspect of her character, rather than on the basis of their gender, race, creed etc. Also, she has been a Bond girl. This is the stuff of dreams.
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