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Is our Zeta licensed to thrill?

Dec 1 2003

Robin Turner, The Western Mail


CATHERINE ZETA JONES is being widely tipped to become the first female 00 secret agent in the next James Bond blockbuster.

The movie is currently being planned by Eon Films which, according to film industry experts, has already screen tested the Welsh actress to play Pierce Brosnan's sidekick.

A senior executive at Eon said yesterday, "Catherine is feisty, independent and very beautiful... a deadly combination for a spy."

If she accepts the role, she will be the first woman in nearly 40 years of Bond films to break into the male dominated world of the British secret agent.

Bond girls have generally been glamorous add-ons who are shaken then stirred into going to bed with 007.

But in recent years producers are seeking to put women more firmly into the driving seat, with the casting of Judi Dench as Bond's boss M.

The next Bond film, which has the working title Beyond the Ice, is thought to revolve around a master villain who holds the world to ransom with a "greenhouse weapon".

It will be shot in Alaska, Ireland, Boston, Norway and Britain and is due to be released next Christmas.

For Catherine Zeta Jones, inclusion in the successful Bond franchise could propel her even further to the top of the Hollywood star list.

From the moment Ursula Andress emerged from the sea in Dr No, the James Bond women have had a major impact on popular culture.

Along with the gadgets and glamorous locations, the Bond women tend to become lodged in the popular psyche.

The women have undergone numerous changes throughout the years, from feisty independent types like Honey Ryder (Andress) and Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) to stereotypical "Bond blondes" like Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland).

However, this has come full circle with later films offering up more authoritative women like Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) and Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach).

If Catherine Zeta Jones appears in the next Bond as expected, she will maintain a long tradition of Welsh involvement in the long-running film series.

For decades, Newport-born actor Desmond Llewellyn (who died in 1999) was Bond's chief gadget man Q, equipping the British secret agent with everything from a rocket launching sun roof to a toxic fountain pen.

Welshman Timothy Dalton played Bond twice in Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989).

His female co-star in Licence to Kill, Carey Lowell, struggled to maintain stardom after the role, with one of her best-known roles afterwards being Tom Hanks's dead wife in Sleepless in Seattle (1993).

Holywell-born Jonathan Pryce played the villain in Tomorrow Never Dies and Cardiff's Shirley Bassey belted out probably three Bond theme tunes - Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker.


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