Six months before she landed the role of Bond girl Sévérine in Skyfall, the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Agent 007 (due out this week), Bérénice Marlohe was newly arrived in L.A., cold-calling casting directors and applying for her work visa. “I was asking myself, ‘How am I ever going to get an agent?’” says the 33-year-old Marlohe. “And then I had a dream with Javier Bardem in it.” She interpreted that oneiric appearance of the actor as a positive omen. “I woke up with a sensation in my stomach that told me everything was going to be fine,” she says. And, in fact, it wasn’t long before she was running lines with Skyfall director Sam Mendes and the film’s stars Daniel Craig and—by pure coincidence—Bardem, who plays Bond’s platinum-haired antagonist.
Success, though, did not always appear so imminent for Marlohe. Beginning in her twenties, the Paris native toiled away in supporting roles on French TV and was told repeatedly that she had neither the connections nor the look (her father is Cambodian and half Chinese; her mother is French) to make it as an actress in her home country. But those early struggles, she says, gave her the couilles to decamp to Hollywood.
For her turn as the enigmatic Sévérine, who is working for Bardem’s character when she meets Bond, who may or may not be able to dissuade her from darker deeds, Marlohe took pains not to model her character after any of the girls in the 22 previous Bond movies. Instead, she drew inspiration from a mythological creature, the chimera. “She’s a mix between a lion and a serpent,” Marlohe says of the unpredictable, smoky eyed, and—as franchise custom dictates—very sexy femme fatale she portrays. She’s hoping the audience will be impressed by more than just appearances. “My biggest fantasy would be that men will fall in love with Sévérine because of my acting skills,” she says. “If that were to happen, I would be very, very happy.”
PHOTO: BÉRÉNICE MARLOHE IN PARIS, JULY 2012. BODYSUIT: HERVE LEGER. EARRINGS: REPOSSI. COSMETICS: M.A.C COSMETICS, INCLUDING EYESHADOW IN CARBON AND SUPERSLICK LIQUID EYE LINER IN ON THE HUNT. HAIR PRODUCTS: BUMBLE AND BUMBLE, INCLUDING HAIRDRESSER'S INVISIBLE OIL. MANICURE PRODUCTS: KURE BAZAAR, INCLUDING NAIL LACQUER IN SCANDAL. STYLING: DIANE BOULENGER. HAIR: TOMOHIRO OHASHI FOR BUMBLE AND BUMBLE/MANAGEMENT ARTISTS. MAKEUP: ADRIEN PINAULT FOR M.A.C COSMETICS/MANAGEMENT ARTISTS. MANICURE: SOPHIE A. FOR KURE BAZAAR/L'ONGLE SINGULIER. SPECIAL THANKS: WM GROUP.