African News

New Bond Girl is from Zimbabwe

9 February 2006 at 08:04 | 857 views

It is not a common thing for an African girl to make it big in the international film industry. But it seems the spell has been broken when the Zimbabwean beauty Thandie Newton became the new Bond girl.Our London bureau chief tells Thandie’s story:

By Abu B. Shaw, Vanguard London Bureau Chief

Her Majesty’s secret service agent James Bond 007 is a worldwide phenomenon. It is inevitably the pride and hallmark of the British film industry. Bond Girls are widely known for their extraordinary beauty and their pivotal roles in Bond movies for over four decades and have added quality to these series. It’s big news for a typical African woman to act as Bond Girl for the first time.

The first woman to play the Bond babe character was Ursula Andress. She was born in Bern, Switzerland March 19, 1936. Ursula’s role in the first Bond film Dr. No in 1962 was particularly memorable because of the attraction it got worldwide when she was first seen emerging from the sea wearing only a small bikini which even modern celebrities in showbiz circles have continued to emulate today.

Forty four years later, a new Bond Girl has hit the headlines. The only difference this time round is that she hailed from Africa. Her name is Thandie Newton. She is of Zimbabwean origin. Thandie Newton’s mother is called Nyasha. She is a princess in the Shona tribe of Zimbabwe. The family relocated to the United Kingdom when the Bond babe was only five years old.

Thandie Newton, 33, will star in the next Bond film Casino Royale opposite the new James Bond David Craig. Casino Royale is presently being filmed in Prague. Reports from the Czech Republic say the first footage clips of the new Bond babe have already put Casino Royale in serious contention for future laurels.

David Craig, the new 007 was recently selected among several actors to replace Pierce Brosnan whose last Bond film was Die Another Day. Halle Berry, born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA on August 14th 1966, starred in Die Another Day, making her the first African American to have the spotlight in the Bond industry.

Sexy actress Thandie, a married mum of two, came to prominence when she featured in Mission Impossible 11 in 2000 along side Hollywood bigwig Tom Cruise. Other movies she acted in include The Truth About Charlie in 2002, The Chronicles of Riddick in 2004 and Crash which hit cinema screens last year.

Her sail to stardom was not as smooth for the African beauty as some might think especially when Thandie Newton was growing up in the film industry. She told the press in London how fame as a teenager led to serious problems. “It’s not a place for young people unless you have your mum standing by you the whole time. It’s too much responsibility and you just grow up too quickly.”

The Bond babe, who has been nominated for Oscars, narrated her first baptism of fire. “I was 16 when I fell for film director John Duncan when I moved to Hollywood to produce my first movie, Flirting. I was exploited at work and in personal life by Duncan who was 41.” Thandie added that after splitting with Duncan she developed an eating disorder and went in to therapy. She eventually returned to Britain and now she is happily settled with her script writer husband Oliver Parker.

Thandie, whose family fled to the UK in 1977 because of political upheaval in Zimbabwe, is homesick. Her nostalgic condition was apparent when she told of her regrets of leaving her homeland. “I wish I spoke my family’s language. I was so busy at university and work that every time my mum paid a visit to Zimbabwe she would go alone.”

Politically, the new Bond girl feels uneasy about President Robert Mugabe’s oppressive regime in Zimbabwe which she points out to be the primary reason for not going back to her country of origin.

“The political unrest is terrible for the people. I want my husband to visit what is a huge part of my heritage and that ofmy two daughters too,” she said.

Thandie Newton is also a British citizen.

Photo: Thandie Newton.