Bond Girl: Domino Derval

Dominique Derval, known simply by her nickname Domino, is the mistress of SPECTRE operative Emilio Largo in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball. The character was based upon Dominetta Vitali’s Ian Fleming novel Thunderball. She was portrayed by the late French actress Claudine Auger and was dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl.


James Bond first heard about Domino during a briefing from M to all the double-0 agents in Europe. Bond had recognized her brother from a photograph, having seen him dead the night before at the Shrublands health clinic, and requested that he be allowed to investigate this potential lead as opposed to his original assignment.

Domino is seen when Bond is swimming in Nassau. Her foot gets stuck in the ocean floor, but Bond sets her free. She swims up to her boat and thanks Bond. Bond swims back to his boat with his Nassau contact, Paula Caplan. Paula takes care of their boat as Bond is about to learn more about Domino. Domino and Bond have lunch on the beach. But Quist spies on the two. A sign that Domino had to go back to the Disco Volante.

At the hotel Bond stayed in, Bond sees Domino with Largo. Domino was smoking a cigar as Bond bid in the game against Largo. Domino tells Largo that Bond pressed her to a drink. Domino and Bond slow-dance outside, but Largo collects her. At Largo’s home, Palmyra, Domino is swimming when Bond visits. She leaves Bond with Largo to make lunch. Largo invites Bond to the Nassau Junkanoo.

After attending the Junkanoo with Bond, Domino tells Bond that Felix Leiter is trying to contact him. He leaves Felix with Domino to go and search for Paula, who Fiona Volpe had kidnaped. It turns out Paula committed suicide by swallowing cyanide. Domino sees Bond in the water the next day, and they go to shore. She helps Bond kill Vargas and spies on the Disco Volante but is caught and tortured by Largo. Bond tells the somewhat misunderstood Domino the entire predicament that Largo killed her brother, and Largo plans to create a nuclear holocaust with the bombs SPECTRE gave him.

Domino shoots Largo in the back

After being released by a repentant Kutze, she proceeds to the ship’s bridge to find Largo holding Bond at gunpoint. As he prepares to pull the trigger, Domino shoots him in the back with a harpoon. He turns and collapses dead on the ship’s wheel, jamming the controls. Unable to move the body and with seconds to spare, Bond, Domino, and Kutze leap overboard as the Disco Volante runs aground and explodes violently. The two are saved by the CIA and carried off into the air by a sky hook.


Domino Derval was an impeccable French beauty and embodied all that James Bond found irresistible in a woman: She was intelligent, imaginative, humorous, sexually aggressive, and courageous. Until she met 007, Domino was resigned to being Emilio Largo’s mistress. On the one hand, she got used to the opulent lifestyle Largo offered her. However, on the other hand, she was essentially a prisoner in a golden cage where he held her captive. Her freedom was limited. It was observed – if not by Largo himself, then his many henchmen. She spent her precious free time alone, went to the beautiful waters of her Nassau passion for swimming, and lived with Largo in her investment, Palmyra. Unlike the extravagant attires, the frigid Largo offered her. However, Domino desired true love. Her later relationship with James Bond fulfilled the wish. Domino’s deferred courage manifested itself when she risked her life to help Bond to stop Largo’s nuclear threat to the United States.

Behind the scenes

In early drafts of the screenplay, Domino’s name was Dominetta Palazzi. When Claudine Auger was cast as Domino, the name was changed to Derval to reflect her nationality.

Producer Albert R. Broccoli’s original choice for the role of Domino Derval was Julie Christie, following her performance in Billy Liar in 1963. Upon meeting her personally, he was disappointed and turned his attention towards Raquel Welch after seeing her on the cover of the October 1964 issue of Life. Richard Zanuck of 20th Century Fox hired Welch to appear in the film Fantastic Voyage the same year instead. Faye Dunaway was also considered for the role and came close to signing. Harry Saltzman and Broccoli auditioned an extensive list of relatively unknown European actresses and models, including former Miss Italy Maria Grazia Buccella and Yvonne Monlaur of the Hammer horror films Gloria Paul. Eventually, Claudine Auger was cast, and the script was rewritten to make her character French rather than Italian. However, her lines were dubbed in the final cut by Nikki van der Zyl, who had voiced several previous Bond girls. Nevertheless, director Young cast her again in his next film, Triple Cross (1966).

During the underwater sequences, Domino was played by Evelyne Boren.