Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(September 6, 1976–     ): Accomplished British actress of Jamaican and Trinidadian descent who made her debut as M’s aide Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall and reprised the role in Spectre and No Time to Die. Harris was raised by her mother, TV writer Lisselle Kayla (EastEnders), and began acting in British television at age eleven. She later attended the Anna Scher Theatre, a prestigious acting school in Islington, before making her feature film debut in director John Miller’s comedy Living in Hope (2002). However, it was her costarring role as Selena in Danny Boyle’s stunning postapocalyptic thriller 28 Days Later (2002) that jump-started Harris’s feature film career. She also played the scene-stealing witchy woman Tia Dalma in Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, and costarred as Winnie Mandela opposite Idris Elba’s Nelson Mandela in the biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013).

Moneypenny’s introduction in Skyfall is atypical for a character that had been a part of every Bond movie between 1962 and 2002. After sitting out the first two films of the Daniel Craig era, she returns as a field agent who is forced to take a desperate shot to stop an enemy agent engaged in a fight with 007. She flirts quite a bit with Bond, but Harris was well aware of the ground rules: “The Bond girl has to die, and Moneypenny can’t have sex.”[1] Her field agent experience was short lived. Said Harris, “By the end of Skyfall my character realises that she doesn’t have the stomach for killing people and being shot at. I imagine her to be someone very academic and thorough, better suited to being behind a desk doing research. She’s happier now, she’s found her feet and anyway she’s not M’s secretary; she’s more like an advisor.”[2] Amusingly, after spending two months learning the ins and outs of stunt sequences for Skyfall, to prepare for her second film in the series she was offered a typing course, though she insisted that “if you see me at a computer screen, it’s because I’m accessing top secret files.” As for her relationship with Bond, Harris admitted that in Spectre, “I see them as friends. She’s the only person Bond can trust. . . . He may have gone rogue. Everyone thinks he has lost his mind because of M dying. Moneypenny is the only one he can confide in about the true nature of his mission.”[3]

For every role she plays, Harris creates a biography; for Moneypenny, she explained, “I imagine she comes from the Home Counties, is very bright, a tomboy and much closer to her father than her mother. He was in the military and she wants to impress him. She was recruited by MI6 at university and the only person who knows what she does is her dad.”[4]

In 2016, Harris was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Moonlight, that year’s unexpected Best Picture winner. The following year, she was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) designation by Queen Elizabeth II.

[1] “Emerging Icon: Naomie Harris,” Elle, November 2013.

[2] “Spectre: Naomie Harris on Playing Miss Moneypenny, ‘the Only Person Bond Can Trust,’” Radio Times, November 8, 2017.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


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