007 is back and better than ever! As one of the most critically acclaimed Bond films in decades, Skyfall hit theatres last Friday (November 9) and one thing’s for sure: Naomie Harris is one fierce female. Joining the ranks of Hollywood history as the latest Bond Girl to grace the big screen, Harris got in serious shape to play the infamous role next to “Bond. James Bond” himself.
While the beautiful Brit isn’t new to rocking action flicks (28 Days Later, Miami Vice, and Pirates of the Caribbean to name a few), the actress admits she’s never had to work this hard physically.
“I had no idea the amount of training that goes into a film like this,” Harris said during a Los Angeles press conference for the film. “For someone like me who is generally lazy and doesn’t exercise at all, it was a big change for me to exercise for two months before we even started the movie.”
So how intense was her preparation? Considering she plays an MI6 agent who does a whole lot of shooting, chasing, butt-kicking (and not to mention, seducing), we’re not surprised just how vigorous it was!
The 36-year-old sexy star worked out with a personal trainer two hours a day, five days a week for two months prior to the film. She also spent three months of extensive training in shooting, combat fighting, and stunt driving.
We went one-on-one with the famous flick’s fearless stunt coordinator, Gary Powell (check out his impressive credits), where he dished on Harris’ grueling training, her craziest stunts, and what sets this Bond Girl apart from the rest.
SHAPE: It’s so great to connect with you! As the stunt coordinator on Skyfall, give us the scoop on working with Naomie Harris. She looks amazing in this film!
Gary Powell (GP): Thank you! We started working together three months before filming. I’ve actually never worked with her before, so we always try to meet as soon as possible for a basic assessment of an actor’s capabilities, depending on what kinds of stunts they’ll be doing in the film. This role was something very different from what Naomie was used to. There was a lot of very physical running, gun training, driving, that sort of thing… and she was amazing. She really put in the hard work before the film and it definitely shows on screen.
SHAPE: We hear Naomie also worked extensively with a personal trainer before the film. Did you work together with her trainer to figure out a specific workout plan that would help with the stunts?
GP: Absolutely, we gave them set exercises to do. Mostly running sort of stuff—like pulling up in a car, jumping out, grabbing guns, running up stairs—over and over. We did three months of rehearsals together getting her to run for long periods of time. The whole filming process and schedule was very long and very strenuous, which can become very tiring, but Naomie really put in the work and did what she needed to do.
SHAPE: What do you think it is that sets Harris apart from the rest of the Bond Girls?
GP: This time around, as a Bond girl she is definitely very heavily involved in all the action of the film. She is supposed to be trained as a field agent, so she was trained properly in weapons and driving—and she had to look like she knew exactly what she was doing, just like James Bond. She did that work and it pays off. From the very first frame of the film, there is character building between her and Bond, all the way till the very end. They have a big relationship building experience, and hopefully that pays off and makes it more special than before. We always try to do even better than the last one!
SHAPE: What was the craziest stunt she had to do in the film?
GP: Definitely the driving. She has to drive alongside the camera, keeping her mark and moving very fast. You’re in very close ground, like a tightrope, and it’s a difficult thing to do. There was so much running as well. And actually, a lot of stuff she trained for prior to the film didn’t end up in the film, but you have to be ready for anything because you don’t know what will end up on screen.
SHAPE: How would one get into being a stunt performer?
GP: Different parts of the world have different rules. In England you have to have seven different classifications, things like being an expert martial artist, scuba diver, etc. But in America, having a good gymnastics background and military background is very helpful. Stunt work is so different than what the general public thinks. It’s really hard work, and it can be a very dangerous job because everything we do has a risk to it. Just don’t do it for the glamour. It’s a fantastic job and a fantastic career, but it takes a toll on your body.
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