The daughter of a Quantum kingpin, Léa Seydoux’s character is Bond’s equal, she tells Robbie Collin in our exclusive video
Madeleine Swann is “not really a Bond girl as we can imagine”, French actress Léa Seydoux tells our film critic Robbie Collin: “she’s a real character”
Seydoux got her break in 2013 when she starred in the Bafta winning French lesbian romance film Blue is the Warmest Colour, which made headlines thanks to an explicit seven-minute sex scene. Since then she has also appeared in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Wes Anderson's Oscar-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel –
Speaking of her SPECTRE role, Seydoux emphasised the importance of not looking to the history of side-lined Bond girls for inspiration. But she did admit that she saw Eva Green’s portrayal of Vesper Lynd in 2006’s Casino Royale – "a real character" – as a turning point for Bond actresses. Seydoux even read Eva Green’s lines when auditioning for SPECTRE. But Swann, she says, is “a little stronger”.
A psychiatrist working at an Alpine clinic, Swann is also the daughter of Bond’s enemy from the previous Daniel Craig films: Mr White, a mysterious high-ranking member of the organisation Quantum, (and – by the look of things – an operative of SPECTRE, the evil organisation that might even be running Quantum). In footage from the new film, Bond has seemingly tracked a dishevelled Mr White to an unknown location and is interrogating him.
Bond goes in search of Swann, hoping that she might be able to shed light on SPECTRE and his own involvement in their plot. The two start working together, with bond telling Swann her is her “best chance of staying alive”. But, Seydoux insists, Swann “doesn’t need Bond”. The intelligent daughter of a master-villain, one imagines she has a store of resourcefulness and deadly tricks.
The name of Seydoux’s character is an allusion to Marcel Proust’s 1913 novel The Way by Swann’s, in which a character remembers his past when he eats a cake called a madeleine. Swann similarly acts as a key to memories Bond might have forgotten. But we will have to wait to discover what these are.