The Name's Harris, Naomie Harris OBE
THE NAME’S HARRIS, NAOMIE HARRIS OBE...
Since her debut as Miss Moneypenny in 2012’s Skyfall, the highest grossing Bond film of all time, Naomie Harris’ star has been shining bright.
Taking on such an iconic role is no mean feat but Naomie has certainly made it her own. No longer is Moneypenny a pen-pushing administrator, relegated to pining after Bond, she is now a field agent, trained to face action and more than capable of taking on 007 himself.
In a 2012 interview with The Telegraph, Bond franchise producer, Barbara Broccoli, said of Naomie’s casting, “We wanted someone who could really match up to Bond – and she’s got it.’
Evolving the role, Naomie wasn’t satisfied being dismissed as simply a ‘Bond Girl’. Naomie’s Moneypenny is a 21st century Bond Woman.
Born 6 September 1976 in Islington, London, Naomie’s acting career began in 1987 when she won a role in the BBC children’s programme, Simon and the Witch. From here Naomie won other roles, including the lead in the 2002 dramatisation of Zadie Smith’s epic novel, White Teeth.
An iconic book, the role won Naomie praise and led to what was arguably her breakthrough movie role; Selena in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, starring alongside hotshots Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson. A fresh take on the zombie genre, the horror flick took $45,063,889 at the box office, despite costing only $8,000,000 to make and saw Naomie become an actress well worth noticing.
Speaking of the role, she told reporters, “I credit so much to Danny Boyle. He really gave me a chance when nobody else would at the start of my career when I had no credits to my name.”
Danny and Naomie were reunited when in 2011 they worked together on the stage show of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at The National Theatre, directed by Danny and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. Despite not having worked in theatre previously, Naomie says Danny “took a chance again” casting her in the role of Elizabeth.
Naomie’s role in the well-received production is described as ‘beautifully played’ by Whatsonstage.com – defining Naomie’s theatre debut as a success.
Despite her obvious beauty and innate sense of style, Naomie has avoided being typecast as a ‘Hollywood starlet’, sidestepping the usual romcoms in favour of meatier roles. Speaking of how she selects the roles offered to her, Naomie has been quoted as saying, “I’m always interested in telling stories that have a message because I really do believe that film is so powerful.”
Educated at Cambridge University, where she studied Social & Political Science, Naomie is the complete package; brains, beauty and integrity. Her thoughtful career choices have led Naomie to make some interesting choices when it comes to the projects she works on. Films including, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – a film that was 16 years in development.
The role saw Naomie play Winnie Mandela, covering several decades of the woman’s life from her late teens until her seventies. Filmed in South Africa, making the movie was challenging. In a 2014 interview with The Telegraph, Naomie outlined how she overcame them, “I just had to imagine the sense of injustice I would have felt if I’d lived during apartheid. Not being able to have the same education as my contemporaries, not being able to sit in the same place on a bus. I’m a person who’s all about justice and I felt the rage building up.”
Of course, Naomie isn’t afraid to take on less poignant roles. She’s starred in two Pirates of the Caribbean movies (Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End), playing the role of Tia Dalma, a sorceress with a mysterious past. With movies, such as Pirates of the Caribbean
and Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, in which she featured alongside Jamie Foxx, not to mention the Bond movies Skyfall and 2015’s Spectre, raking in the big bucks, Naomie has had her fair share of box office success.
Naomie’s hard work has clearly paid off with ‘Best Supporting Actress’ nominations for her role in Moonlight at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Baftas.
While she didn’t take home the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar, Moonlight did scoop the Academy Award for ‘Best Picture’ (albeit amidst controversy when LA LA LAND was mistakenly announced as the winner). Naomie was excited to be attached to the drama, which follows the lead character through three life stages; boyhood, teenage years and adulthood.
Grappling with some hard-hitting themes including drugs, poverty and sexuality, Naomie plays the role of Paula, the protagonist’s mother and a drug addict.
Taking her time to research this gritty role, Naomie said in an interview with The Evening Standard, “I think this movie is one that doesn’t speak to your head, that it just somehow connects with your heart and that yearning you have for connection. It’s the kind of movie that stays with people for weeks, if not months afterwards.”
While attaching herself to projects such as Moonlight demonstrates Naomie’s desire to flex her acting skills, she isn’t afraid to jump on board major movie productions like her role as Moneypenny in the Bond franchise shows.
While the next movie in the Bond series is yet to be announced and speculation over whether Daniel Craig will reprise the role continues to grow, Naomie is certainly not sat waiting for the phone to ring.
She already has two movies scheduled for a 2018 release. Jungle Book: Origins sees Naomie plays Nisha, a female wolf in this motion-capture movie. Fans can also catch her in Rampage, a movie based on a 1980s video game in which Naomie takes on the role of a geneticist alongside Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
Recognition of Naomie’s success isn’t restricted to box office sales and award nominations, she was also recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours. Awarded an OBE for her services to drama, she said of the honour: “This is really phenomenal. This is representing my country and being recognised for having made a contribution to the nation. It can’t get better than that.”
2018 Jungle Book: Origins - Nisha
2018 Rampage - TBC
2016 Collateral Beauty - Madeline
2016 Moonlight - Paula
2016 Our Kind of Traitor - Gail
2015 Spectre - Moneypenny
2015 Southpaw - Angela Rivera
2013 Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Winnie Madikizela/Mandela
2012 Skyfall - Eve
2010 The First Grader - Jane Obinchu
2010 Blood and Oil - Alice Omuka
2010 Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll - Denise Roudette
2009 Small Island - Hortense
2009 Ninja Assassin - Mika
2009 My Last Five Girlfriends - Gemma
2009 Morris: A Life with Bells On - Sonja
2008 Street Kings - Linda Washington
2008 Poppy Shakespeare - Poppy Shakespeare
2008 Explicit Ills - Jill
2008 August - Sarrah
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Tia Dalma
2006 Miami Vice - Trudy Joplin
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - Tia Dalma
2005 A Cock and Bull Story - Jennie
2004 After The Sunset - Sophie
2004 Trauma - Elisa
2003 Crust - Receptionist
2002 28 Days Later - Selena