Portrayed by: Eva Green
Film: Daniel Craig’s 007 Bond Films, Casino Royale
Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd only appears in Casino Royale, but her presence is felt in all five films of Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond. She’s not just the inspiration of his signature drink, but her story is complex and tragic, filled with mystery and intrigue. Her layered characterization, her flaws, her chemistry with Bond, and her death make her one of the most memorable Bond characters to grace the screen.
So few characters have the power that Vesper still holds. So few characters leave such a mark. Vesper Lynd is beautiful, intelligent, and unfairly manipulated into circumstances that lead to every emotion on the spectrum. And despite it being over fifteen years, she has continued to capture not only the heart of James Bond, but the hearts of Bond fans everywhere.
Vesper Lynd and The Introduction
Our first introduction of Vesper illustrates her ability to easily counter Bond’s ego. Sharp and quick-witted, we immediately realize she’s more than one of his disposable pursuits. They meet and have dinner on the train headed to Montenegro for Le Chiffre’s high-stakes poker game. She’s the Treasury agent paired with Bond to authorize payment for the game. Their entire interaction is like a chess game and the dialogue is dripping with tension. Both of them try to peel off as much information as they can from each other.
She instantaneously sizes Bond up, literally and figuratively, to determine whether she thinks she needs to protect the government’s money. It’s also immediately clear that while young and beautiful, Vesper is ambitious and determined. Her black business outfit and composed manner also indicate her reserve and seriousness as well as a sense of mysteriousness to her character. During their exchange on the train, she is able to make out Bond’s character. Although he makes a few quips, she’s able to throw back a few of her own while correctly deduce that Bond is an orphan like her.
A Complicated Trail of Betrayals and Love
One aspect that adds to the complexity of Vesper’s character is that she has a string of betrayals—to her country, to her boyfriend, to Bond, and to Mr. White and Quantum. Each betrayal is her adaptation to changing circumstances. Believing herself to be in love, the ambitious Vesper betrays her country to save her boyfriend’s life. She in turn betrays her boyfriend by falling in love with Bond and making a deal with Quantum for the money in exchange for Bond’s life. Of course, she betrays Bond by handing the money to Quantum, but she also betrays the organization by leaving her cell phone and providing James the number for Mr. White.
Each betrayal was motivated by where Vesper Lynd believed her heart belonged most. She was placed in an impossible situation, or at least she felt she was. It was a battle of survival that eventually turned to protecting the person she loved most. Whether she gave the money or not, she understood that her own life was doomed. She had been involved in too much, and there was not much left to gamble with in her own life. Instead, she chose the guaranteed outcome, the outcome that Bond would live while sacrificing herself. The great sadness punches you in Quantum of Solace when you learn that her boyfriend was never in any danger at all. Vesper and Bond were robbed of their happiness.
Did she actually love Bond? She may not have intended it, but slowly and surely, she found herself more in love with Bond than with Yusuf. As Bond is recovering after Le Chiffre’s interrogation, Vesper exclaims that if all that was left of Bond was his “smile and [his] little finger, [he] would still be more than any other man [she’d] met.” In that moment, you can see the pain and heartbreak in her face as she realizes how much this man loves her, how much she loves him, and the impending betrayal she knows will happen. She continues to wear the love knot Yusuf had given her until her final moments, signifying that her love and her actions are for James.
The Woman Who Gave Us 007
Vesper’s betrayal and the heartbreaking relationship with Bond is essential for Bond becoming 007. Throughout the film, we see Bond as someone who is emotional and can’t control his temper. As Vesper Lynd acutely points out, Bond loses the high-stakes tournament because of his ego. Their relationship allows Bond to bring someone in, probably for the first time since his parents died. His hard-shell exterior slowly strips away, and he does in fact resign from MI6 in order to spend his life with Vesper. She humanizes him.
Her death brings a change in his personality that impacts the following four films, but it’s necessary. He realizes that he is alone in this life, and he devotes his life to his country. He shapes up to become the effective, cold, and ruthless 007 agent that we know.
Although he feels betrayed, he is still haunted by Vesper’s memory and the fact that she gave the money to spare his life. He does not let anyone in as closely as he did for Vesper Lynd.
In No Time to Die, we see that Vesper is still a lingering shadow in Bond’s and Madeleine’s relationship. She convinces him to visit Vesper’s grave, and we sense Bond’s forgiveness and persevering love for Vesper and he utters “I miss you.” But given that he’s been betrayed by love before, he’s quick to suspect Madeleine’s involvement when Vesper’s grave blows up. Although he ultimately seems to believe Madeleine’s protests, he chooses to walk away, reminded by the heartbreak from Vesper. It takes years later for Bond to open himself again and embrace the idea of love.
Vesper Lynd’s tragic arc and ever-lasting impact makes her one of the most fascinating Bond characters to date. She becomes the driving force of the Bond we know and love, but not before making her mark as one of the most-layered characters in the franchise.