Sévérine was the fictional enigmatic, quiet, soft-spoken, seductive, and troubled representative of terrorist and SPECTRE member Raoul Silva. A Bond girl and anti-heroine, she appeared in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall and was portrayed by French actress Bérénice Marlohe.
James Bond first sees Sévérine assisting French terrorist Patrice in an art dealer’s assassination. She is standing in an apartment across from Patrice, leading the dealer to a large window, allowing Patrice a clear shot. After Patrice kills the dealer, Bond successfully disarms him and demands to know whom he works for. Patrice remains silent and falls out of the building to his death. Sévérine, now alone in the apartment, witnesses this, and after a sinister glance towards Bond, she leaves to rejoin her guards. Searching through Patrice’s briefcase, Bond finds anonymous payment as a chip from a casino in Macau. Bond decides to visit the casino and cash the chip, knowing this will attract attention and bring him closer to Patrice’s employer.
Knowing the previous assassination has been compromised by James Bond, Sévérine awaits Bond’s arrival at the casino to claim the money that belonged to Patrice. Joining Bond on the casino floor, Sévérine teases Bond for a drink, to which Bond accepts her offer. Bond spots Sévérine leaning against a staircase banister; she sees him and informs her guards she’ll deal with him herself.
Becoming acquainted, the pair sit at the bar while being watched by her guards. After briefly trying to outsmart one another, Bond reveals his true motives: he wants to meet her employer. Suddenly, a new side to Sévérine is displayed. She warns him to be careful of what he wishes for, and Bond pulls her back as she leaves. Bond sees from her wrist tattoo that she was a victim of the Macau sex trade and determines her employer rescued her and now works as his representative. Promising to help her escape being her employer’s captive, Bond asks Sévérine to join forces and allow him to find the man in the shadows.
Trusting Bond, she warns him her guards plan to kill him. She tells him that if he is to survive, find her on the Chimera, her yacht, where they will sail to Silva’s base.
At Sea on the Chimera
Setting sail for Silva’s base, Sévérine seems disappointed that James Bond hasn’t made it out of the casino. She soon discovers he has survived and is hidden on board when he joins her in the shower. In the morning, Sévérine watches in fear as they approach Silva’s base on Dead Island. Bond joins her on the deck. As she tells him it’s not too late to turn back, the men on the boat hold them at gunpoint.
Bond is taken to meet Silva while Sévérine is beaten for her defection. The pair now handcuffed, James Bond and Sévérine are now escorted through the derelict streets of the abandoned island to which Sévérine informs Bond was once the home to many until Silva made them believe there was a leak at the local chemical plant, causing them all to flee. Knowing Silva’s ways, Sévérine warns Bond that he always gets what he wants.
Following Silva’s interrogation, Bond is taken outside to find Sévérine bloodied and bound to a collapsed statue. After carefully placing a shot glass of scotch on Sévérine’s head, Silva hands Bond an antique Percussion Cap Pistol and challenges him to shoot them off her head – a sadistic opportunity to improve his recent, sub-par marksmanship scores. A pre-war French song, Boum! by singer/songwriter Charles Trenet, ironically plays over the island’s loudspeakers.
As a classic femme fatale, Sévérine’s dark and sinister past catches up with her. Initially posing as a potential enemy to James Bond, she soon realizes he is probably her best opportunity to escape the dangerous world she is living in. While it can be argued that Sévérine is not a true villain, she does help Patrice in the assassination of the art dealer and, upon Bond grabbing her by the arm at the bar, she was prepared to let her guards kill Bond. She also joins forces with Bond not to save the world and stop Silva’s evil plans, as most other redeemed Bond girls, but instead simply to free herself of Silva. However, as a slave to Silva, knowing she would be killed if she ever betrayed him, her actions are all coerced. She decides to stop acting as Silva’s henchwoman, and her fears turn out to be well founded. It is also unlikely that the beating she receives from Silva on his island is her first. Much more likely that she has been beaten into submission, and even attempting to defy Silva shows remarkable courage.
Behind the scenes
After hearing about a casting call for Skyfall in Paris, Bérénice Marlohe contacted the movie’s director Sam Mendes through Facebook and emailed her acting reel to the casting director Debbie McWilliams. Six months before her Bond audition, Marlohe stated that she dreamed of acting alongside Javier Bardem, who plays Raoul Silva, and interpreted it as a positive sign that she would get the part. She auditioned twice for the role, first for Debbie McWilliams and then for Mendes. Marlohe was one of several French actresses to play Bond girl. Other French actresses that played Bond girls included: Carole Bouquet, Claudine Auger, Sophie Marceau, and Eva Green. British actress Gemma Chan also auditioned for the part. Following the film’s release, Marlohe identified the role as a transition in her career, leading to further acting opportunities and her decision to hire a Hollywood talent agent.
A fan of James Bond films, Marlohe said that “you can feel a lot of freedom in the creation of a character because it is a world between reality and imagination”. She .” s more intrigued by the Bond villains, particularly Grace Jones’ performance as May Day in the 1985 film A View to a Kill. Marlohe described her character as “glamorous and enigmatic,” She drew inspiration from GoldenEye villain Xenia Onatopp (played by Famke Janssen) in playing Sévérine. When asked about her preference for antagonists, Marlohe responded that she preferred parts of whimsy and madness to them”. Outside of the James Bond series, she found inspiration for her portrayal of the character’s psychological instability in Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in the 2008 film The Dark Knight.
Marlohe based her performance as Sévérine around the mythological Chimera, emphasizing a sense of “dangerousness spreading through the character.” When asked to define the traits of a Bond girl, she described the role as “a powerful woman with a kind of male charisma and power” and a “bit of animality.” During promotional interviews, Marlohe advocated for the removal of the title of Bond girl, explaining that she aimed to imagine the character as more modern and realistic; she described the Bond girl as “a beautiful concept, but it’s a concept, and I wanted to create a real human being.”