Culture

Could Wallis Day be the first female James Bond?

Ahead of her performance in new sci-fi drama 'Krypton', the young British actress has a few words for Idris Elba

You wouldn’t want to push your luck with Wallis Day. Young, blonde and unquestionably beautiful, the British actress, who stars in new sci-fi drama Krypton (airing on E4 this weekend), could be mistaken for just another up-and-coming starlet. But she’s not. She’s absolutely not. Press the wrong buttons and you’ll be in danger of a roundhouse kick, before she jumps on her motorbike, of course.

Wallis Day is the real deal. Mess with the MMA-trained, Russian-speaking, motorbike-riding actress, who, let’s not forget, also has an IQ of 143 (officially making her Mensa material – if she chose to apply) at your peril.

‘I think it’s been a fantastic two years,’ the 23-year old says of the #MeToo movement, which sparked into life when she was auditioning in LA. ‘It was really brave for everyone to do what they did, and it’s really changed the game in Hollywood. It’s definitely made young actresses like myself feel more comfortable in this industry. Because those conversations have been initiated, it’s opened the floor up to the younger generation to be confident and not feel they have to be silent.’

Day is not one to be easily silenced. She’s got quite the spicy CV. In addition to the acting career that started with a role in Hollyoaks aged 18 (she was born Hackney, but later moved to Cheltenham with her parents), she trained to swim in the 2012 Olympics (but didn’t compete), signed to agency Models 1 at 13, and moved back to London alone when she was just 16. It was then that she started boxing –  ‘it made me feel safer’.

Image courtesy of Justin Wu

She might have started earlier. As a child, she was clearly bright, but she was also hyperactive, a combination that meant she was enrolled – and then ejected – from 11 schools in 12 years. In an effort to curb her over-activity, her father took her to Stagecoach Performing Arts School when she was five.

‘Acting was like therapy for me’, she says. ‘It allowed me to channel my energy and my creativity into a good place. I kept getting into trouble at school, and it was the thing that made me not want to get into trouble anymore.’

But much as she loves the escapism acting gives her, she’s not enamoured with the demands Hollywood places on young actresses. ‘It’s very cut-throat,’ she says of the LA audition process. ‘Starting out, you get treated like cattle. There’s a very quick turnover, you have two minutes in a room and then it’s on to the next person. And everyone in that waiting room looks like you – but can probably do a better American accent.’

The unrelenting pressure to look a certain way has also brought her down at times. ‘There’s definitely more of a focus in LA on how you look aesthetically. I’ve been auditioning there since I was 18, and that’s a fragile age for anyone. I’ve broken down to my agent on the phone and cried about auditions over there.’ But that hasn’t stopped her. ‘It makes me raise my game because I can see the competition. It’s good to see what’s out there and know who you’re competing against.’

Image courtesy of Warner Bros

This unrelenting ambition, paired with that unstoppable energy that got her into so much trouble as a child, pushes her in the direction of playing action-packed, high-octane roles: ‘anything with adrenaline,’ she says. Most of all, Day’s desperate to take on secret agent or action hero characters after Krypton, the type that are played by ‘kick ass, femme fatale actresses,’ like her role mode, Angelina Jolie.

‘I’d love to be doing action thrillers,’ she says. ‘I want to do more stunts and get on a motorbike and leap from car to car with a gun. But I’d also like to do some drama and get my teeth into a really emotionally deep character, and challenge myself with that.’ It helps that, because of her background in martial arts, she does most of her own stunts, and helps the Krypton stunt team choreograph her fight routines.

And the ultimate goal? Day says, unashamedly, that she wants to be the first female James Bond. ‘Those kind of traits and that kind of storyline are what I’ve always pushed and yearned for,’ she explains. So not just a Bond girl, then? ‘I wouldn’t settle for being a Bond girl. I’m really ambitious and personally a female Bond character would mean more to me than being a Bond girl.’

When it comes to Wallis Day, I would say watch this space – but she probably wouldn’t stand still in it long enough for you to catch her. Watch out Mr Elba. It looks like you’ve got competition.

Krypton starts Sunday 19 August on E4