On Wednesday night, Naomie Harris was flying under the radar at the Peninsula New York on Fifth Avenue. The actress was perched barefoot on an armchair in a hotel room, having just touched down in New York from Los Angeles, and was still waiting for the polish on her hands and feet to dry before heading across the street to a cocktail at the Omega flagship. Harris, who portrays Eve Moneypenny in the latest Bond film “Spectre,” has been all over the world on a massive press circuit for the past week — she was heading to Miami after New York, and she’d been in Mexico a few days earlier for the North American premiere.
“It was craziness,” she said of the Mexican event, which fell on Día de los Muertos. “It was so cool to see these people going around with these amazing creations on their faces. I was really pleased I had the chance to experience it. “
Despite the press whirlwind, Harris hasn’t tired of the film — the first time she had seen it was in fact at the London world premiere, the week before. “I went with my family,” she said. “It was so much more special — it does make it more nerve-racking [though].”
The actress, who was also in the previous Bond film, “Skyfall,” has helped shepherd a modern idea of what it means to be a leading Bond woman. “I think they have a sexual allure, I think they’re intelligent, I think there’s a magnetism about them,” said Harris, starting to tick off the qualities of the designation. “I think there’s a classic elegance about them, and a sophistication.”
The role has also evolved considerably over the years. “I think the shift really started from ‘Casino Royale,’ [the Daniel Craig version] when you see Bond for the first time really fall in love and have his heart broken by a woman — and a strong woman as well,” she explained. “In ‘Spectre’ both [Bond girls] sort of reject Bond’s help, they’re like, ‘No, I got this, I don’t need you, I can do this on my own.’ Ultimately they succumb, as most women do with Bond.”
There’s a chance that “Spectre” might be Craig’s last run as James Bond — a strong chance. The actor, who worked on the film as a producer in addition to the eight months of filming required, has run low on steam for the franchise. When he recently told Time Out London that that he’d rather “slash his wrists” than reprise the role, the quote bounced around the blogosphere for days. “I think he just needs a break, and have a holiday, go somewhere nice and sunny, and he’ll decide whether or not he wants to come back,” Harris disclosed. “I hope [Craig] comes back. I think he has everything that the previous Bonds had, but more. He has the prowess, he looks like an agent, you totally believe he could take people out, he has that sort of sexual magnetism, but I think on top of that, he has this sensitivity and he has this emotional quality. There’s a real interior life going on. I think we definitely don’t want to lose him as Bond.”
With her nail polish set, Harris slipped into a pair of heels and headed across the street to the Omega boutique, where VIP customers mingled and sipped martinis (shaken, not stirred) before heading to an uptown screening of the film. With Craig missing in action, Omega’s leading man for the night was instead Stephen Urquhart, its chief executive officer. The luxury watchmaker partnered with the Bond franchise in 1995, and 007 has worn the brand’s Seamaster model ever since.
“The new Bonds are a little bit like Omega in the sense [that] they have the essence of DNA of the past but in today’s contemporary world. Who drinks martinis today? Nobody drinks martinis,” said Urquhart, who had flown over from Switzerland for the event and was meeting Harris for the first time. “Bond drinks martinis and it’s part of his whole legacy. It’s like Omega — you say, who wears a mechanical watch today? Come on. Millions of people do.”
And at least 7,007 people can wear the same watch as Bond wears on-screen — a limited-edition version of the model is for sale, timed with the movie. “It’s not one of the 7,007, this is a prototype,” Urquart clarified of the timepiece on his wrist. “I wouldn’t dare take one from the consumer.”