Margot Robbie is more than a ‘love interest’: don’t waste her as a Bond girl

This is no Bechdel test-brandishing diatribe Hollywood simply needs to do better if the best part it can find for the fabulous actor is 007s latest squeeze

It should be pointed out that British bookmakers are not always so powerfully prescient as, say, the Pythian priestesses of the temple of Apollo, or even the mercurially gifted Sybill Trelawney from the Harry Potter books. But the announcement by one (actually Irish) site, Paddy Power, that it sees Suicide Squads Margot Robbie as the clear favourite to play a Bond girl in the next 007 movie has nevertheless caused a bit of a stir in the martini-quaffing spys homeland.

The first question that comes to mind is quite how anyone anywhere knows anything yet about the follow-up to last years Spectre, beyond makers Eon, when current 007 Daniel Craig doesnt seem to be 100% confirmed himself. But perhaps Paddy Power just got bored taking money from those poor fools convinced that the next actor to answer Her Majestys Call will be Orlando Bloom or Robert Downey Jr, both as low as 66-1 with some companies. (So, for the record, are Gillian Anderson and Megan Fox, if youre ready to bet your hard-earned wages on the next Bond being a Jane.)

Perhaps the question we really ought to be asking ourselves here is quite how Robbie would benefit from taking the job in the first place. And why, in 2016, playing a Bond girl is still seen as the zenith for any up-and-coming female star.

It is not as if the long-running spy saga has a fantastic record for creating strong, female partners for MI6s top man. Of modern-era Bond girls, only Eva Green, as the luminous, multi-layered Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, has really been given the chance to shine as a lover with ongoing resonance for 007s psyche. In follow-up Quantum of Solace, the Bond writers made a decent stab at couching Olga Kurylenkos Camille Montes as a different kind of match for 007, but the character is largely forgettable in a vapid entry. La Seydoux was fabulous in Spectre as the demure, vulnerable Dr Madeleine Swann. But this was a kind of throwback to the Bond girl of old, where she is always desperately in love with our suave secret agent hero, and usually only valuable as a pawn in the greater game between 007 and his supervillain nemeses.

Robbie, it must be said, has played these kinds of roles before. In fact, she has in some form or another portrayed women who are defined almost entirely by their relationships with men in every single one of her major blockbuster outings so far. In The Legend of Tarzan, the Australian actor was Jane to Alexander Skarsgrds ululating lord of the jungle; in Martin Scorseses The Wolf of Wall Street she was Leonardo DiCaprios expensive plaything turned vengeful shrew Naomi Lapaglia, and in the upcoming Suicide Squad she plays Harley Quinn, passionate long-term paramour and partner in crime to Gothams clown prince of crime, the Joker. In the trailers, Quinn even wears a jacket sporting the legend: Property of The Joker.

None of the above is any criticism of Robbie, for these are in many ways fine roles for a young Hollywood actor in 2016. Quinns passion for the Joker is a fascinating tale of psychological disturbance, the byproduct of a kind of second cousin to Stockholm syndrome. Lapaglia gets her own back in the end, even if she is presented initially as a preposterously stereotyped figure of male fantasy, the ultimate marriage-wrecking younger model.

And neither is this article intended as a kind of Bechdel test-brandishing diatribe against rigid Hollywood gender hierarchies. In the era of brilliant TV such as Orange is the New Black it is simply rather tedious to see one of our finest young female stars being pitched for parts that closely resemble every love interest role seen on the big screen for the past 50 years.

It would be nice to think that Robbie has also passed the stage where she needs to take these kind of parts. You would not see Jennifer Lawrence, admittedly an Oscar winner, signing up to play a Bond girl. And surely The Hunger Games saga, while by no means perfect by the end, proved if nothing else that female-led blockbusters are just as vital components in the Hollywood machine as spy movies and comic-book epics.

If Robbie really is being offered a role in Bond, we can only assume that studios see her rather more like that guy who wrote the Vanity Fair article about the Australian stars ability to be sexy and composed even while naked. And rather less like wed have to very much hope the rest of the world does.

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