Grace Jones is famous for being extravagant with a unique look, a rebellious disco icon of the 1980’s. When she starred as henchwoman May Day alongside Roger Moore in ‘A View To A Kill‘ in 1985, she brought along her then boyfriend Dolph Lundgren to get a part in the film as well. Details like this are revealed in Grace Jones’ 400 page strong biography which has been released by Simon & Schuster last month. Jones penned her story in cooperation with writer, broadcaster, and cultural critic Paul Morley.
In the biography, many details are revealed regarding James Bond and how Grace landed a part in the most successful film franchise in history. While some are well known to fans of the legendary secret agent, reading them from the memory of the people who have been at the film set still feels different.
The James Bond producers had really wanted me to be in a Bond movie, because in the 1980s, with the franchise threatened by changing times, they were chasing fashion and looking to reach a wider audience by involving more pop and rock. They had wanted me to be in Octopussy, in the title role, played by Maud Adams, but there was some anxiety about having a black woman as a villain. A Bond movie is, for all the appearance of sex and violence, a fundamentally very conservative franchise.Grace Jones, I´ll Never Write My Memoirs (2015)
Jones explains how she wanted to prove that she could appear in a film without losing her integrity, how she thought that her musical career would naturally open the doors to acting and how actress Jessica Lange recommended taking acting lessons with Warren Robertson. Robertson had also taught Christopher Walken, who starred as the main villain Max Zorin in ‘A View to a Kill‘. The training boosted her confidence and she learned to find an “inner story” to model her appearance on screen – a skill she perfected up to the point that even Roger Moore was frightened of her at some point.
May Day, my character in A View to a Kill, was very much of the attitude that if you messed with her, she was going to kill you. And to get to that point I did think of my step-grandfather. In the Bond film, playing the ruthless dominatrix in catsuits, mad hats, and flamboyant capes, taming a wild horse with a sneer, parachuting from the Eiffel Tower, I began to emulate Mas P, to copy his intense scowl. It’s there in the stare of May Day.Grace Jones, I´ll Never Write My Memoirs (2015)
Jones goes on describing how a main villain for the film needed to be found after both David Bowie and Mick jagger had declined the offer, how director John Glen wasn´t really interested in the mechanics of acting, saying that anything the actors would do wrong he could fix in the editing room. Things got tense for Jones when she was supposed to film a love scene with Christopher Walken and she describes, how she kept boyfriend Dolph Lundgren away from the filming of the scene. However, there were also funny moments like when she was supposed to act surprised seeing James Bond alive and found it hard to do since everybody knew he was.
Interestingly, Jones was given the opportunity to design her own costumes for ‘A View To A Kill‘, a task that was usually handled by Albert R. Broccoli’s wife. Jones explains how she took inspiration from Disney films in designing her wardrobe for the film, using tips rom designers Issey, Kenzo and Azzedine Alaïa. Jones imagined that being a Bond girl would be a bit like a cartoon.
Jones also connects the dots between her, Bond creator Ian Fleming and ‘Dr. No‘ location scout Chris Blackwell, whose mother had been a mistress of Fleming. Jones even calls her film character May Day a direct descendant of the very first Bond Girl, Honey Rider. Fleming’s retreat in Jamaica, the famous Goldeneye estate, also seems to have played a key part in the writing of the biography.
I have visited Goldeneye many times, and spent some time there working on this book, because of the way the place clears the head and revives the soul. I have taken my mom and dad there, who agree with Chris that the place has a magical atmosphere. Many who visit plant a tree there, labeled with their name, helped by Ian Fleming’s original gardener, Ramsey Dacosta. I have planted a tree there, alongside those planted by the Clintons, Princess Margaret, Bono, and Pierce Brosnan, and I love to see how quickly and confidently it has grown over the years. One or two others nearby have not fared as well.Grace Jones, I´ll Never Write My Memoirs (2015)
The biography is well worth a read – not just for fans of Grace Jones and James Bond, but also for everyone who is looking for life lessons of a real music and style icon. Sure, Jones’ story might not be a pristine white fairytale story but if you were really looking for that, you better stick with what she used as inspiration for her Bond film costumes: Disney.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE BOOK AND ORDER YOUR COPY
If you´d like to read an excerpt of the book, learn more about the publisher and the writers behind the book, please visit the official Simon & Schuster website. You can also order Grace Jones book directly via the publisher.
Benjamin Lind became a James Bond fan at the age of 15 and has since closely followed the production of every film since 'Tomorrow Never Dies'. Apart from writing about Bond, he is a founding member of the James Bond Club Germany and holds a position as advisor in its executive committee. In 2016, Lind released a charity documentary film entitled 'A Bond For Life - How James Bond changed my Life' in support of UNICEF.