Family & Companions
Samantha Bond played a wide variety of characters in stage, television and film productions, but fans of superspy 007 especially cherished her turns as Miss Moneypenny, the sexy MI6 secretary who would trade double entendres with the British agent. The husky-voiced London native first made a name for herself in the long-running play "Daisy Pulls it Off" (1983-86). After several more productions, she performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and also became a regular face on British television. When it was decided to replace Timothy Dalton following the release of "License to Kill" (1989), the part of Miss Moneypenny was also up for grabs. Bond's screen presence allowed her to make a significant impression in the limited screen time customarily afforded that character and she was invited back for the next three installments. While Bond also undertook a number of additional movie and television assignments, her primary focus was the stage, where she portrayed most of the primary female characters in the works of Shakespeare. She also later gained additional exposure as Lady Rosamund Painswick on the popular drama "Downton Abbey" (ITV, 2010-16), which quickly developed an international following. While Miss Moneypenny was likely the role that earned Bond her most widespread appreciation, she enjoyed a remarkable run across three mediums and proved decisively that the infamous "Bond Girl Curse" was indeed a fallacy.
Samantha Bond was born in London, England on Nov. 27, 1961. A career in the performing arts was already a family trait, thanks to the work histories of her father, veteran character actor Phillip Bond, and mother Pat Sandys, a successful British television producer. She attended Godolphin and Latymer girls' school in Hammersmith and was initially interested in becoming a ballerina, but by her early teens, Bond had gained weight and such a vocation seemed less likely. She shifted focus and attended drama school in Bristol. Actually getting onto the stage to practice her craft in a professional capacity required numerous auditions for multiple repertory companies, but Bond finally made her theatrical debut in "On Yer Bike" (1982) at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. She soon enjoyed a significant career boost from the 1920s boarding school farce "Daisy Pulls It Off" (1983-86), which enjoyed a lengthy West End run. Television offers also started to come Bond's way and she made her small screen bow in the miniseries "Mansfield Park" (BBC, 1983). In between intermittent engagements in that medium, she continued to garner additional stage experience in various productions, including old standards like "Romeo and Juliet" and "Much Ado About Nothing." The latter offering was directed by Dame Judi Dench, who became both a close friend and a frequent professional colleague. In the early '90s, Bond was cast in the Royal Shakespeare Company presentations of "The Winter's Tale" and "As You Like It' and she also kept busy on various British television programs, including a lead part on the dramatic series "Tears Before Bedtime" (BBC, 1995).
Although Timothy Dalton's initial James Bond outing, "The Living Daylights" (1987), had been a success, its follow-up "License to Kill" (1989) underperformed, so it was decided by the producers to do some recasting. After a few years passed, it was announced that Pierce Brosnan would take over as 007 and that the role of his lovely MI6 associate Miss Moneypenny - played in the previous two installments by Caroline Bliss - would also be reinterpreted. In an odd bit of fate - leaving aside the amusing coincidence with her surname - Bond was already friends with Bliss at the time she was chosen to take over the part for "GoldenEye" (1995). There was no bad blood between them, however, and while Moneypenny remained a peripheral character in "GoldenEye," Bond's beauty and charm helped to counter the limited running time she was accorded. In between 007 installments, Bond played Mrs. Weston in a U.K. TV-movie adaptation of Jane Austen's "Emma" (ITV, 1996) and returned to the stage in the popular comedy "Amy's View" (1997) alongside Dench, who had also joined the 007 family as M, the head of British intelligence. That year also saw Bond back as Moneypenny for "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997) and she was also tapped to narrate the promotional documentary "James Bond: Shaken and Stirred" (ITV, 1997) that coincided with the film's release.
A supporting assignment in the romantic comedy, "What Rats Won't Do" (1998) preceded her return for the 19th James Bond outing, "The World is Not Enough" (1999), which continued the string of success the series had enjoyed with Brosnan at the helm. There was three-year gap before the next 007 entry hit theatres, so Bond took advantage of the down time to make her Broadway debut in a New York incarnation of "Amy's View" (1999). The production's grosses were modest, but Bond's work was recognized with a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress. She made light of her newfound notoriety by playing "Miss Moneypence" on the U.K. sketch comedy series "Brand Spanking New Show" (Sky One, 2000) and created a memorably sexy and sinister Lady Macbeth opposite Sean Bean for a 2002 West End staging of "The Scottish Play."
Although many critics and fans expressed disappointment with the film, the fourth Brosnan 007 adventure, "Die Another Day" (2002), proved to be the most financially lucrative to date. Nonetheless, the producers took heed and decided that a creative reboot was necessary to ensure that the series remained fresh and commercially vital. Daniel Craig was announced as the latest embodiment of Ian Fleming's superspy for "Casino Royale" (2006), but Miss Moneypenny was not included in the new storyline. Lois Maxwell had originated the character of Moneypenny in the earliest films and her career essentially came to a close once the part was re-cast. Bond, on the other hand, kept herself extremely busy with the demands of motherhood, in addition to her usual slate of stage and television work. She also found time for feature film roles in Sally Potter's romantic drama "Yes" (2004) and the comedy "A Bunch of Amateurs" (2008).
As the new decade dawned, Bond appeared in a staging of "Arcadia" and a West End revival of Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband." The latter project was of particular note for Bond as it provided the first chance she had to act with her husband, Alexander Hanson. U.K. TV viewers saw her during this time as Queen Elizabeth II in a series of commercials, but Bond received wide international small screen exposure as Lady Rosamund Painswick on the hit period drama "Downton Abbey" (ITV, 2010 -16). In between all of this work, she also found employment as a narrator for several audiobooks, including Dench's autobiography "And Furthermore" (2011). To the delight of fans, Bond made a surprise return as Moneypenny, alongside former 007 Roger Moore, for a commercial promoting the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but was soon well removed from that sort of glamour as the soused Mrs. Prentice in a new incarnation of Joe Orton's classic play "What the Butler Saw" (2012).
By John Charles