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Denise Richards Defends Her "Panned" Bond Girl: "It Broke My Heart"

Dr. Christmas Jones from 1999's The World Is Not Enough was not well-received.

The first James Bond movie premiered over 60 years ago, so the list of Bond girls who have appeared in the 25-film franchise is lengthy and growing. In 1999, Denise Richards added her name to the Bond girl list when she starred as Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough alongside Pierce Brosnan. While the movie received mixed reviews, Richards' character specifically became a punchline. Some viewers found her to be miscast and others made fun of her for playing a nuclear physicist who wears skimpy outfits. In 2006, Entertainment Weekly named Christmas the worst Bond girl of all time.

Twenty-four years later, Richards reflected on the backlash in a new interview. The actor and reality star told Variety that it "broke [her] heart" to hear the criticism and that she was, in some ways, set up to draw fans' ire. Read on to see what else she had to say.

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She knew she was being mocked.

Denise Richards and Pierce Brosnan in "The World Is Not Enough"
MGM Distribution Co.

In her new interview with Variety, Richards talked about her performance as Christmas Jones being "panned."

"It broke my heart that people were making fun of me," she said.

"'Oh, really? You're wearing shorts and you're a nuclear scientist?'" she said, reiterated some of the criticism. "I'm playing a Bond girl. If I wore a lab coat and pants and a suit, then [fans] would have been upset, like, 'Okay, why isn't she looking like a sexy Bond girl?'"

She went back to her hotel room and cried during the press tour.

Denise Richards at the premiere of "The Mod Squad" in 1999
Brenda Chase / Stringer / Getty Images

Appearing on the podcast SpyHards in March, Richards revealed that she had a challenging and emotional time promoting The World Is Not Enough because of the response to her character.

"It was very hard when that movie came out, because I did get a lot of flak for it, and it was not easy for me with the magnitude of the press that I did," Richards said. "To go out there, knowing people were making fun of me, that was the first time in my career that I had to deal with something like that, and it was very, very difficult for me. And I just had to put a smile on my face and go out and do talk shows, and then travel the world. I would go my to hotel and cry, because the reviews, they were making fun of me and saying stuff."

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She had a lot of love for her character, however.

Richards told SpyHards that, while she hadn't watched any Bond movies prior to being cast, she was aware of the Bond girl legacy. And she liked that her scientist character seemed different from many who had come before. "I just felt that she was strong and feisty and fun and didn't care what she looked like," she said.

She also said that she saw the humor in her character's wardrobe and felt that it was in line with the franchise.

"When I got a lot of flak, I said, 'OK. I'm playing a Bond Girl, it's tongue in cheek.' If I was really wearing a lab coat and doing all of that, then people would say, 'Well, why isn't she a Bond Girl?'" the 52-year-old explained.

She doesn't regret making the movie.

Denise Richards at the premiere of "7 Days to Vegas" in 2019
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

While Richards went through a tough time after the movie came out, she has a lot of fond memories of being a part of the Bond universe and is grateful for it.

"It was an incredible experience," she told The Guardian in 2022. "Even when I was promoting the movie, I got to travel to all these different countries for the premieres. I really didn't understand how big Bond was until I was doing it. Do I have Bond girl at the top of my résumé? Well, it's one of them!"

She also joked about her character's memorable name. "Why was my character called Christmas? I don't know. It's a funny name … Are there any other characters called Christmas? Jim Carrey's character is called Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber. So if we got married I'd be Christmas Christmas."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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