ANDRESS, URSULA

Entry Source: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin


(March 19, 1936–     ):  Swiss actress who portrayed Honey Ryder in Dr. No. A stunning presence in the first Bond film and a fantasy figure for many young men of the 1960s, her entrance on the Crab Key beach—coming out of the water in a white bikini that Andress designed herself—is ranked among the great screen introductions. Unfortunately, thanks to the screen standards of the period, the producers could not recreate the scene as Ian Fleming wrote it. In the book, Honey wears only a belt around her waist, where she carries her knife. When she’s spotted by 007 for the first time, she covers her crotch and her broken nose, allowing her magnificent breasts to jut out at Bond. Fleming describes her as the incarnation of Botticelli’s Venus—quite a tall order for the film’s casting director! A photograph of Andress in a wet T-shirt eventually won her an audition, although her then husband, actor John Derek, had to persuade her to take the part.

Remembered Andress, “We were a small production, and it was like a family that got together to do a movie. We were every day together. We had lunch together, dinner together, and the next morning worked together. It was fabulous. . . . I was supposed to be very tanned, because Honey Ryder was living in Jamaica, a diver looking for shells, but I was snow white, so I had to get makeup from head to the toe. John O’Gorman was the makeup man, a lovely man, so he said, ‘Okay, take your clothes off.’ So I had to stand there all naked in the room, and he began with this pancake, going from top to bottom, covering me in this dark makeup. Then every other second, somebody was knocking on the door. And John would go, ‘Come in.’ And here I am all nude. They came with the breakfast tray. Finally, when they were finished, I think we had 20 trays of breakfast, because everybody wanted to come in to watch me naked. Sean would come into makeup and there was no room from the door to his makeup chair, because it was full of trays. He’d say, ‘Well, we’ve had a few visitors today.’”

As for the role itself, Andress found it “easy, because I used to do competitive swimming, so the sea was no problem. Running around up and down the hills, through the mud, through this marsh was very easy for me. The difficulty was when I had to speak. I used to be so scared, but Sean helped me a lot and was adorable to me.”[1] Ultimately, Andress was entirely revoiced in postproduction by actress Nikki Van der Zyl, who did all the other female voices in the film other than Miss Moneypenny, Miss Taro and Sylvia Trench.

Andress returned to the Bond world, albeit in spoofy mode, playing seductress and double agent Vesper Lynd in the comedic 1967 adaptation of Casino Royale. A native of Ostermundigen, Bern, Switzerland, Andress made her uncredited feature film debut in the Italian comedy An American in Rome (1954). Her role in Dr. No netted her a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer—Female, an honor she shared that year with Tippi Hedren (The Birds) and Elke Sommer (The Prize).


[1] Paul Duncan, “The Gold Standard,” Taschen, Winter 2012.