Pam Grier turned down a role in Octopussy : 'A Bond girl is an afterthought'
Pam Grier left the producers of James Bond shaken, not stirred.
In the early 1980s, Grier was approached by the Broccoli family to appear as a Bond girl in the next film they were planning, 1983's Octopussy, starring Roger Moore as 007. Grier had already earned her status as the first female action star for the blaxploitation hits Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974), and Friday Foster (1975).
But she wasn't interested in playing eye candy or a damsel in distress. "My agents had me meet with the Broccoli family, and I'm going, 'I'm not available,'" Grier tells EW. "They looked at me and said, 'Well, why are you here?' I go, 'I don't know. My agent told me to come meet.' But I just wanted to do really in-depth character pieces that weren't predictable. I turned down everything."
Michael Ochs Archive/Getty; Everett Collection
Grier did, in fact, pass on a lot of projects to pursue work on the stage and hone her craft. But she wasn't the least bit intrigued by the idea of playing a Bond girl.
"I just felt to be a Bond girl would be: What am I going to do?" she explains. "Am I going to help rescue him? Is he rescuing me? A Bond girl is an an afterthought, a CliffsNote, perhaps. 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."
Grier's life is so rich that she told her story in the most recent season of TCM's The Plot Thickens podcast, which debuted last fall and just dropped a bonus episode on Feb. 7 that digs into the rise and fall of Blaxploitation films and the ways in which Grier transcended the genre that shot her to fame.
There have been many iconic Bond girls — from the O.G. Ursula Andress in Dr. No to a villainous Grace Jones in A View to Kill — but Pam Grier is an entity unto herself. And she knew that better than anyone.