The James Bond film franchise has entertained audiences across the world since the early ’60s with the heroic exploits of the British intelligence agent popularly known as 007.
But ahead of the 25th feature film, some have wondered if the unabashed womanizer is out of place in 2019, an era in which movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up have taken center stage.
To try to remedy this, the Bond team hired Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator and star of Fleabag and one of the creators of Killing Eve, to make edits to the script and ensure the women characters are more three-dimensional.
In an interview with Deadline published Friday, the British star said she believes the Bond series definitely has a place in today’s world, but that the movies needs to “treat women properly.”
“I think he’s absolutely relevant now. It has just got to grow,” Waller-Bridge told the outlet.
“It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly,” she said. “He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”
Bond’s cringeworthy behavior has been well documented, like the YouTube video below that shows how little has changed as far as the character’s attitude toward women, from the original films starring Sean Connery to the most recent ones with leading man Daniel Craig.
In one clip, Connery’s Bond slaps a woman on her behind as a way of telling her to excuse herself from the “man talk” that’s about to commence. A clip from Craig’s Bond in Skyfall shows him having absolutely no reservations about coercing a former sex slave into sleeping with him.
The way in which women characters have been treated and represented in the Bond franchise is not lost on the actors who’ve been part of the long-running series.
Rosamund Pike, who starred in 2002’s Die Another Day along with Pierce Brosnan, told BuzzFeed News last November she thought the films were sexist.
“One thing about Bond is that, is that now I look back on it, I think, Gosh. I mean that was a world which was ripe for an incredible amount of sexism,” Pike said.
For her audition, Pike said she was expected to undress in a scene in Bond’s bedroom, but she declined.
“I was sort of prepared in underwear and I could drop the dress, and something in me just thought, No, if you’re going to see me in my underwear you can give me the part,’” she said.
Pike said she “never was made to feel uncomfortable on set,” attributing that to producer Barbara Broccoli, who still works on the Bond movies.
Waller-Bridge said she’s excited to write dialogue for Craig on the next Bond film, which will be his last. The writer said she appreciated the “wryness” Craig brought to the franchise’s titular character.
In addition to her work on Bond, the star is teaming up with Vicky Jones as a creative partner on the upcoming HBO series Run.
The writer said she’s excited for the women on the show to receive their scripts and go, “I can’t wait to do that.”
“As an actress, I very rarely had that feeling early in my career,” Waller-Bridge said. “That brings me much pleasure, knowing that I’m giving that to an actress.”