Since she’s a Cambridge-educated actress with a posh accent, Naomie Harris may not have been the obvious choice to play the tough New York social worker in “Southpaw.”
But the Anglo-Caribbean performer is used to challenges. And to confounding expectations, including her own.
“Cambridge was a huge culture shock for me, actually,” the 38-year-old says. “I’m a working-class North London girl and suddenly I was dorming with Etonians. But my mum always instilled in me this belief you could do anything. Without that, I could never have taken the risks I’ve taken.”
In the boxing drama “Southpaw,” opening Friday, star Jake Gyllenhaal takes the physical risks. But Harris gets her own workout in the James Bond movies. She’ll be returning as Moneypenny this November in the 007 film “Spectre.”
“The franchise has been going for 50 years because it changes with the times. And one of the big changes has been the position of women,” says the actress, who was raised by a single working mother. “Fans loved the idea of this kickass Moneypenny.”
The character is no longer a Bond girl, Harris says, but “a Bond woman.”
But despite the high-profile action films — and parts in “28 Days Later” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films — the Londoner is still able to take the train home unrecognized.
“The paparazzi leave me alone,” she says. “I can still dart out of my house in my jim-jams and buy a pint of milk without showing up in the papers, luckily.”