With the announcement this weekend that Jodie Whittaker is to become Doctor Who‘s first female Time Lord, a significant glass ceiling in the TV industry has been spectacularly shattered. But what of cinema’s most iconic and macho “male” role, James Bond?
James Bond is known for being a notorious womanizer and all-round action hero. Agent 007 has been played by a succession of white men ever since Sean Connery worked his Martini-swizzling, baddie-busting moves in 1962’s Dr. No. But has gender equality now evolved to the point where a woman could step into Bond’s super-shiny shoes, seducing a series of beautiful Bond boys as she goes about disrupting heinous bids for world domination?
Halle Berry in the 2002 Bond movie Die Another Day
Well, according to a lead producer on the show, yes, it’s a distinct possibility! In a recently unearthed interview by GQ — first published in 2015 — the Bond franchise’s executive producer, Barbara Broccoli, was open to the idea of a female lead for Hollywood’s most coveted role. Broccoli has worked closely with Skyfall and Spectre director Sam Mendes, and according to him, she has the final say on casting. “It’s like Hamlet, who has been played by a variety of different people, including women,” she said. “So presumably Bond could be.”
The exec added that she was keen to see Daniel Craig — Bond’s current alter ego — reprise the part in the immediate future. “But do I want to be making a Bond film without Daniel Craig? No, absolutely not!” she said. “He’s so integral to the whole process that I’m in denial about anyone else playing Bond. Genuinely.”
However, that was two years ago and at this point in 2017, it’s not yet clear whether Daniel will sign on for a fifth outing as 007. Other names in the running to play one of cinema’s most iconic characters include Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Tom Hardy.
And a number of women have thrown their hat into the ring, too. “It’s Bond. Jane Bond,” Gillian Anderson tweeted last year, along with a Photoshopped snap of herself on a movie poster.
— Gillian Anderson (@GillianA) May 21, 2016
Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke is also keen. “I would love to play Jane Bond,” she once said. Even the new Baywatch star Priyanka Chopra also voiced her interest. “I get that all the time,” she said, when asked whether she would consider playing 007. “I wanna be Bond!”
Of course, the appearance of Bond women thus far in the franchise has been contained to sultry Bond girls. While the depiction of 007’s notoriously picturesque sidekicks has changed over the years — Bond girls have become progressively more vocal and complex, and less overtly sexual — the very existence of this traditional eye candy role still seems sexist.
Ursula Andress in 1962’s Dr. No.
But Broccoli denies this is the case. “I think they’ve got a bad rap really because most of them are heroic, and even if they do sacrifice themselves for Bond it’s for the higher purpose. We tried to maintain that,” she said. “It’s much more interesting to have interesting women. Vapid women on screen are so boring. Why would anyone want to have a vapid character?”
She branded the first ever Bond girl Ursula Andress a “powerful feminine force.” “[She] completely broke the mold in the early sixties. She was natural when everyone was overly made up, and she was athletic and physically powerful and could hold her own.”
This story originally appeared on Grazia Daily.