Pam Grier Reveals Why She Turned Down Bond Girl Role in the '80s
"Am I going to help rescue him? Is he rescuing me? A Bond girl is an an afterthought..."
By the early '80s, Pam Grier had made a name for herself as an action star in movies including Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Sheba, Baby. But, when she was offered a part in one of the biggest action franchises of all time, she turned it down without any regrets. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Grier explained why she didn't want to be a Bond girl and how producers responded to her suggestions on how to beef up the role. Read on to find out what she had to say.
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Grier wanted more challenging jobs.
Grier was considered for a role in 1983's Octopussy, which was Roger Moore's sixth movie as James Bond. The 73-year-old actor told Entertainment Weekly this year that she met with the Broccoli family, who produce the Bond movies, even though she already knew she wasn't interested.
"My agents had me meet with the Broccoli family, and I'm going, 'I'm not available,'" she explained. "They looked at me and said, 'Well, why are you here?' I go, 'I don't know. My agent told me to come meet.'"
Grier explained that she "just wanted to do really in-depth character pieces that weren't predictable." She added, "I turned down everything."
She called Bond girls "an afterthought."
At this point in her career, Grier had already starred in action movies where she was the one in charge. So, it's not exactly surprising that she felt she wouldn't have enough to do as a woman in a Bond film.
"I just felt to be a Bond girl would be: What am I going to do?" she told EW. "Am I going to help rescue him? Is he rescuing me? A Bond girl is an an afterthought, a CliffsNote, perhaps."
She continued, "I asked, 'Am I challenging Bond? Am I out to kill him? Will I kill him before he kills me?' They hadn't thought of that. I gave them other ideas, which were much more profound and interesting than what they were doing."
Octopussy ended up featuring Maud Adams in the title role and Kristina Wayborn as henchwoman Magda.
Grier had plans to expand her career in other ways.
At the time, the actor wanted to move on from her blaxploitation roles and star in different types of projects. She spoke about this in a 2020 interview with The New Yorker.
"They wanted me to continue [in blaxploitation], and I said, 'The story is over. There's so much more. There's Mary Fields, the first Black female stagecoach driver, from the mail route in Montana. I want to play her,'" Grier shared. "The studio said no one would believe there was a Black female stagecoach driver—even though it's in the books. They said Bond girls are more interesting, and bikinis. The needs of Hollywood are different than what my needs are."
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She's still acting today.
Grier continued acting on screen and on stage after turning down Octopussy. One of her most celebrated roles came in 1997 when she starred in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. She's also known for playing Kit Porter on the TV series The L Word from 2004 to 2009. More recently, she starred in the show Bless This Mess, appeared in the movie Poms, and guest starred on episodes of This Is Us.