Bond girl on the case in Joburg
New Bond girl Berenice Marlohe, who plays Severine in Skyfall, says she dreams of seeing lions before she leaves South Africa today.
Marlohe has been in Johannesburg since midweek as part of a Heineken campaign to promote a commercial in which she and Daniel Craig star.
In an exclusive interview with The Times yesterday, Marlohe - who cites Grace Jones and Famke Janssen as her favourite predecessors - said animals were a source of inspiration for her character.
''For Skyfall, I accessed the spirit of a dragon to get in touch with my character because it's an imaginary animal that flies around and spits fire. Severine is a dangerous woman who has the ability to kill from afar. They built my nails like a dragon's claws to use as weapons."
Far from the aggressive character she plays in the movie, Marlohe exudes serenity. She said it was never her childhood dream to be an actress.
''I started to consider an acting career eight years ago when I was approached by an agent. I [had] always wanted to be a pianist and a painter."
Dressed in a floor-length, cobalt-blue gown cinched at the waist, Marlohe, who towers over the people around her, spoke highly of Craig but revealed he was not her first choice for leading man.
''I'd love to work with Christopher Walken because of his strangeness, which translates onto the screen. I believe he is one-quarter [each of] man, woman, animal and alien - all in one."
She spoke kindly of Dame Judi Dench, who now plays M in the Bond movies.
''She has such charm. There's magic in her sense of humour and, in her eyes, you can see that she has a beautiful soul."
Marlohe said she had not been required to do many stunts, but had loved learning how to shoot.
''It helped me jump into Severine's imagination in terms of being charged and focused."
But the most challenging part of filming was the steamy sex scenes. ''I love art, but sometimes you have to sacrifice it by being naked in the shower ."
So far, the movie has smashed records in the UK, where it has been viewed by more than 50million people.
Skyfall will make its South African debut on Friday next week.