Murder on Relationships: The story between Paris and Bond

Publicity still from Tomorrow Never Dies

Publicity still from Tomorrow Never Dies

By Nicolás Suszczyk, Guest Writer

Hidden among the pyrotechnics in Tomorrow Never Dies, there’s a character that has a particularity among the female leads in the James Bond saga. It’s Paris Carver, one of the leading ladies from the film that will celebrates its 20th anniversary later this year.

Paris had a past with Bond — a past that involved love. It that started as a flame, was interrupted for some years, and reignited when M sent her spy to a party in Hamburg to investigate Paris’ husband, media tycoon Eliott Carver, a prime suspect on the sinking of a British vessel.

Bond doubts she’ll remember him, in the world of fame and luxury she adopted thanks to her husband. “Remind her,” M (Judi Dench) responds. “Pump her for information.”

Teri Hatcher, the Californian actress picked for the role (then popular for Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) summarized her character a bit: “She has to make a choice: be loyal to her cruel and unscrupulous husband, or help her former lover. Her decision is an integral part of the movie.”

First Draft

In Bruce Feirstein’s original draft, Paris Harmsway (her surname would change to Carver) was a former interest for Bond. There were no explanations. For some reason she left him and he felt very hurt for that, to the point he slaps her as she tries to tell him, “I love you.” Her development and fate is pretty similar to the one in the finished film.

Feirstein molded Paris in the shape of a typical socialite who marries a rich and powerful man, but what could been a new variation of Andrea Anders or Lupe Lamora (from The Man With The Golden Gun and Licence to Kill) had a different twist. This girl knew –and loved– him in the past, a relationship of mutual caring. In the final film, it was Bond who left her because she was getting “too close for comfort”.

Raymond Benson’s novelization sums up her background a bit, coinciding with the screenwriter idea: Her name was Paris McKenna, she was interested in modelling and only went to university to please her parents. She met Bond in a party seven years prior to the events of Tomorrow Never Dies. Both were fascinated for each other and dated for two months (a “stormy relationship,” in Benson’s words). When the romance was at its height, he disappeared without notice.

Apparently, a model surrounded by paparazzi and cameras was incompatible with Ian Fleming’s description of James Bond as “the man who was only a silhouette” (from the end of Moonraker).

Paris then met Elliot Carver. She was attracted by his histrionic personality, his power and for being “handsome in a way.” She married him three months later and dished away her desire of being a model. It is very much implied she lived into the shadow of his husband, becoming a possession of him and not necessarily happy with it, although not daring to confront him.

Jonathan Pryce as media baron Carver

Jonathan Pryce as media baron Carver

Reunion

Things would change – drastically – when Bond and Paris meet again.

During Carver’s party in Hamburg, Bond poses as a banker. Donning his impeccable midnight blue Brioni tuxedo, he approaches her, standing alone in a balcony, dressed in a sensual Ocimar Versolato black dress.

The sighting of Paris alone while Carver was funnily talking about how he overhyped the Mad Cow disease as a beef industrialist refused to pay him a poker game winning shows a certain distance, a hatred feeling on his husband life and soul of the party antics.

“I always wondered how I’d feel if I ever saw you again,” he teels her.

The female pride incarnates in Paris’ body and she soundly slaps Bond for leaving him. She pretends to be much better now, and warns Bond that he’ll be in trouble if he tries to run down the “Emperor of the Air.” As much as Bond is playing the cover of a banker, Paris is playing another cover: Masquerading into the “I’m OK” attitude of the socialite who marries a powerful man.

Not much later, 007 will be discovered by and then subdue some Carver thugs. Bond cuts Carver (Jonathan Pryce) off the air during the inaugural speech in the process.

Later, Paris seeks out Bond. The situation would end in one of the most believable love moments in the franchise: Throwing her “happy mannequin wife” cover away, Paris reveals she has missed him ever since, wondering if she came to close for him. They share a passionate and romantic kiss, in a moment that distillates equal measures of erotism and genuine love from the duo.

Love Returns

Their long lost love comes back in that instant. She betrays her husband and informs Bond of the entrance of Carver’s pressroom. Before leaving, she says: “This job of yours, its murder for relationships,” highlighting the key reason they previously split up.

After much mayhem at the Carver facility, Bond returns his hotel room. The agent finds Paris lying dead on his bed. He kisses her lifeless body. We see a hint of guilt and sadness in Pierce Brosnan’s eyes in a brilliant portrayal of 007.

Paris Carver is one of the most drama charged relationship Bond has had.

Interestingly, Sheryl Crow’s title song seems to be a requiem for Paris, talking from the point of a “killed” woman describing Bond’s lifestyle as “murder on our love affair.”

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10 Responses

  1. I HAVEN’T RECEIVED A SPY COMMAND DIGEST IN TWO WEEKS. MY e-mail ADDRESS HAS CHANGED. COULD THIS BE THE PROBLEM? PLEASE ADVISE AS TIME PERMITS. THE PREVIOUS andy.east@aol.com IS NOW AN ALTERNATE. THE NEW ONE IS BELOW…

  2. That is probably the problem.

  3. Andy: It appears you’ve fixed the email already.

  4. FOLLOW-UP… JUST HAVEN’T RECEIVED SPY COMMAND IN TWO WEEKS. THOUGHT THE NEW E-MAIL MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE PROBLEM…MANY THANKS…ANDY EAST..

  5. Excellent.article and observations. Many thanks. (It is interesting to note that she did evolve to that more complex character in the later drafts of the script. She started out as a bit of a scatter-brained neurotic)

  6. TERI HATCHER HAD A BRIEF ROLE, BUT IT WAS CRITICAL TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE FILM AND SHADED BOND’S CHARACTER IN AN INTRIGUING WAY, MORE SO THAN GEORGE LAZENBY AND DIANA RIGG IN OHMSS. PIERCE BROSNAN WAS AT HIS BEST HERE-ON AN EQUAL AURA WITH SOPHIE MARCEAU IN THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH….ANDY EAST..

  7. I just never bought Paris as a character. She was merely a pastiche of Domino and Tracy. Hell, Bond doesn’t even get one scene mourning her loss. Literally minutes after we see her death, Bond is having a good time piloting his remote controlled BMW.

  8. @Ricardo – they had to move on and lighten the plot, TND was concieved as a funny and dynamic movie. The way Bond oozes as he sees her dead shows enough guilt and grief to call it a “mourning scene”. Way more than Paula, Aki, Andrea or Sévérine.

  9. As an aside, I’ll defend the way Bond reacts during the Paula and Aki death scenes. In Thunderball, despite being very much in peril, Bond stops and looks at Paula, with the John Barry music expressing what he’s feeling. Aki’s death was similar but even more so. Bond wasn’t in immediate peril so he could spend more time (again Barry’s music is a plus). With Severine, Bond showed no remorse about her death, but did take time to (figuratively) beat his chest and gloat to Silva.

  10. @Nicholas- I understand that TND was not really meant to be heavy but there was a bit of a rush to get back to the action considering who Carver was to Bond. I actually do like TND for the most part.

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