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No Time To Die’s Léa Seydoux Reveals The One Thing She Brought To Madeleine Swann That No Other Bond Girl Showed

As we look back throughout the Daniel Craig era of James Bond movies, there are a lot of changes that can be highlighted throughout his record-breaking run. But expanding that view to the nearly-60-year history of 007 adventures, one of the marked, yet constant improvements has been the female characters in the series. Léa Seydoux’s Dr. Madeleine Swann is a recent example of such developments, as she became a Bond woman who got to show the world a facet never explored before in No Time To Die: a combination of being able to take care of herself, while also exploring a rare fragility.

Sitting down to tackle the No Time To Die press day, one of the threads that stood out was the fact that Dr. Madeleine Swann is the first James Bond woman in the Craig era to return. Normally the women in Bond’s life tend to either die or disappear, never to be heard from again. But Seydoux’s character, introduced in 2015’s Spectre, returned for good reason, which allowed her to vary her approach to No Time To Die in the following context: 

I think that in Spectre, she was kind of mysterious, maybe. We didn’t really know her, apart from the fact that she was Mr. White’s daughter. This time, with Cary, we wanted to explore the character a bit more; he gave her depth. I think it was important for the audience to understand her a bit more, and also understand the relationship that she has with Bond, and why they are so connected.

A lot of the marketing for No Time To Die has absolutely focused on Léa Seydoux’s return, more specifically centering in on the fact that Dr. Madeleine Swann has a supposedly deadly secret. That mere suggestion sends James Bond, and the audience, off on a bit of a spiral. It wasn’t too long ago that we saw 007 get his heart broken in Casino Royale, as well as in the events of Skyfall. To suggest the woman he fell for in Spectre might be his greatest threat is a massive possibility to deal with, and director/co-writer Cary Joji Fukunaga’s entry into the James Bond canon makes that its thematic centerpiece.

That potential is ramped up even more when you watch how No Time To Die sets up the events of the film. Early on, we’re treated to the sequence we’ve seen in the trailers where Bond and Madeleine are on a romantic getaway in Matera. It doesn’t take long before the real Bond action kicks in, but for a moment, we’re shown a window into the life that James wants to have with Dr. Swann.

It almost feels like it’s another movie, but soon enough, an errand to make peace with the past turns into No Time To Die’s main thematic point. While you may have let the past die, sometimes those events, or persons, don’t want to let go of you. For the third time in the Daniel Craig era, someone’s returned from the darkness to try and shape the future. Only in the case of Rami Malek’s mysterious Safin, he shares a deeper connection Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine.

No Time To Die has given the world its most important Bond woman yet through Dr. Madeleine Swann. That fact ties into a lot of the basic differences between Léa Seydoux's Madeleine and the classic Bond girl archetype. The total package was too good for Seydoux not to return, and she said as much when reflecting on her decision to reprise the role: 

I was very very happy to come back, also to be able to explore more and just give her more emotion. It’s a very emotional character, and also, I think it’s the first time we see a Bond girl who’s not in a bathing suit or in a sexy dress. She’s just a normal woman with imperfections and vulnerability. And actually, it’s also something that we see for the first time: a woman with fragility.

As much as Daniel Craig and the James Bond fans can celebrate No Time To Die as a proper ending to the Craig era of films, the continued advancement of Bond women is also something to cheer about. Through Léa Seydoux’s simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming performance, there’s a chance that her prediction about audiences and their tear ducts just might come true. We’ll find out soon enough, as early showings of No Time To Die are already underway ahead of this weekend’s massive US opening. 

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.