Berenice Marlohe

With her exotic French, Cambodian, Chinese lineage and an Eiffel Tower-sized fearless streak, Skyfall leading lady Berenice Marlohe strikes you as the silver screen starlet most likely to be a Bond girl in real life.

The evidence? She owned three guns before getting anywhere near the Martini-downing secret agent.

Then there's the anecdote about how the striking Parisienne clinched the part of a 007 femme fatale.

Berenice knew it was a done deal when Sam Mendes, director of the 23rd Bond film, asked her what kind of animal she saw herself as and she answered: "Half black panther, half dragon."

Born on 19 May 1979 to a French teacher mother and Asian doctor father, Berenice originally dreamed of being an artist or pianist.

After studying at the prestigious arts school Conservatoire de Paris for ten years, she settled on a career on screen. But the film world wasn't ready for her.

Her unusual looks meant Berenice wasn't considered for regular French roles. Her television credits from that time include Emergency Medical Team, a low-budget hospital drama in which she played a transsexual.

Recalling those early struggles, the actress said: "One agent asked me 'Who do you know in the business? What producer do you know?'

"And I said, 'Nobody!' So he told me, 'OK, then come back when you know people.'"

"I decided I was going to count on myself and no one else," she said, relating her agent's efforts which turned up two auditions in one year for small-time TV.

Hearing that the makers of Skyfall were looking for new talent, she contacted everyone involved, until her show reel landed on the casting agent's desk.

A few months later she was in Shanghai grappling with Bond star Daniel Craig in the role of the enigmatic Severine.

It's probable her agent is wishing he'd believed in her more. Unfortunately for him, the French beauty takes great pleasure in telling interviewers that she fired him.
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