Ursula Andress came out of nowhere to star as a Bond girl opposite Sean Connery and helped make the spy spoofs based on Ian Fleming’s novels a Hollywood evergreen. Self-proclaimed tomboy, reining vampire queen and Twilight saga star Ashley Greene has told fan zines she wants to be one too.
Greene, at 25 years old, does bear a striking resemblance to Bond girl Melina Havelock fromFor Your Eyes Only and her penchant for Taekwondo and vampire intrigue suggests that she’s got the right stuff. But with the values and tastes of emerging generations changing on the turn of a Tweet, it might be time for Hollywood to go beyond the trophy babe stereotype and ask some focus groups whether they’d like to see a Jane Bond on the Silver Screen.
Before the vampire girl can morph into any heroine in a Bond-size budgeted movie, moguls will be watching her drawing power as the female lead in the new parapsychology thriller, The Apparition, produced by Hollywood heavyweight Joel Schumacher. The low budget ($17 million) film opens later this month with distribution by Warner Brothers.
Instead of doing photo ops at the Chateau Marmont and playing to the paparazzi at Scarpetta in Beverly Hills, Greene could have wound up being a cheerleader for Tim Tebow at the University of Florida. An outstanding student at Wolfson High School in Jacksonville, Ashley thought of majoring in psychology or pre-law at the U of F. But being a Gator fan wasn’t enough to chill the dream of an acting career. Her Marine father and insurance saleswoman mother trusted 17-year old Ash enough to let her leave home for Hollywood after graduation.
Instead of apprenticing at the Pasadena Playhouse or winning an Obie, Ashley, like other players in today’s teen entertainment market, gets validation in ways that are disconnected from tradition. Her awards to date mark the shifting emphasis away from individual performance and star quality to group attributes. Being the Teen Choice Awards’ Best Scene Stealer (Greene has won twice) and having the Best Fans (a one timer for Ashley) are the new standards for low-fi stardom in a crisis-facing economy.
The last great generation of independent Hollywood leading ladies, Kathleen Turner, Debra Winger, Barbara Hershey and Goldie Hawn, were scripted with love interests. Today Greene, Hilary Swank and other millennials project a screen image that attracts market share by reaching out to male, female and transgender admirers as friends.
Will the Greenes and the Swanks and others who represent the new androgynous Hollywood female lead build their reputations at the box office or via the emerging online content distribution model driven by hits and likes and social media influence? For the ambitious Ashley Greene, the way movie critics respond to her performance in The Apparition will decide. Bond girls, after all, are synonymous with big box office, not Bit Torrent.