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Any actor will tell you, there are some jobs that you shouldn’t take if you can help it. Normally, the role of a Bond Woman is something that could be seen as a blessing, as the role of women in the James Bond franchise has evolved quite a bit in the recent era of films. But when the role is something akin to the classic Bond Girl stereotype, like Gemma Arterton’s Strawberry Fields in 2008’s Quantum of Solace, the opportunity doesn’t feel as golden; especially when there are some who have criticized her for accepting the opportunity.
Arterton discussed as much with The Sun, as she was promoting her new FX/BBC series Black Narcissus. And naturally, whenever someone connected to the Bond legacy is being chatted up, the subject of how they enjoyed their time will come up in conversation. Gemma Arterton explained the changes she would have made, as well as where those criticisms came from, thusly:
At the beginning of my career, I was poor as a church mouse and I was happy just to be able to work and earn a living. I still get criticism for accepting Quantum Of Solace, but I was 21, I had a student loan, and you, know, it was a Bond film. But as I got older I realised there was so much wrong with Bond women. Strawberry should have just said no, really, and worn flat shoes.
In Quantum of Solace, the character of Agent Strawberry Fields did feel like a bit of a regression to the stereotypical Bond Girl archetype. Complete with a ridiculous name, a successful seduction by 007 himself, and a death that worked as a contemporary remix of the same fate met by Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, Gemma Arterton can’t be blamed for her own criticisms of the role in hindsight. Also, those boots must have been a pain to wear, so flat shoes certainly would have been an improvement.
The presence of such a character in Quantum of Solace feels all the weirder when you consider how progressive the dynamic between Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Olga Kurylenko’s Camille Montes was. As there was no romantic connection built into their mission, as James was still mourning the death of the woman he’s previously fallen in love with. The strictly business approach with Camille worked very well in Craig’s second 007 outing. It makes the eventual treatment of Gemma Arterton’s character all the stranger, though the years since her performance as Agent Fields have given her a wide variety of exciting roles to make up for it.
Following her stint in Quantum of Solace, Ms. Arterton’s resume would see would-be blockbusters like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters mingling with more dramatic fare like Their Finest, and most recently the FX/BBC series Black Narcissus. And, potentially most exciting, is the fact that Gemma Arterton is heading back to the world of action packed espionage with her role in The King’s Man. Only this time, she’s going to get to fight as hard as her male counterparts, and with just as many gadgets, in the prequel to the Kingsman franchise.
While it was a step back for women in the James Bond franchise, there’s still some fun to be had with the character of Strawberry Fields. Quantum of Solace sees her being resourceful, witty, and very helpful to James Bond’s mission against Dominic Green. Perhaps if the film wasn’t being made in the middle of an infamous writer’s strike, there could have been some further rewriting that would have elevated the character into more of a modern color. Despite the role being what it is, at the very least we can thank Ms. Fields for introducing the world Gemma Arterton’s talents, and keeping her in the game as long as she’s been.
We’ll have to wait until March 12th to see The King’s Man make its way to theaters, but you can watch all three parts of Black Narcissus with a Hulu subscription. And if there’s more adventure to be had in the new year, you can see it for yourself with our 2021 release schedule.