The latest addition to the five-decade-long Bond saga, Spectre, is shaping up to be more Latino than we thought, and in more ways than one. First, there was the recent announcement of Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman as one of the upcoming film’s hyper-sexualized Bond Girls. And while Sigman does have the honor of being the first Mexican Bond Girl on the big screen, we’ve got to shout out the late, great Mexican actress Linda Christian (born Blanca Rosa Welter), for playing Valerie Mathis in a 1954 made-for-TV adaptation of Casino Royale, 8 years before Bond even made it to movie theaters.
Second, Mexican news outlets have caught wind of some shady dealings between the Mexican government and the producers behind Spectre. Indeed, it seems that the team over at the beleaguered Sony Pictures was received in Mexico – where the film is partially set – with tequila, tacos, and a traditional Latin American “mordida.” $14 million worth of mordida, to be precise. The terms? Let’s just say the Mexican government was concerned about how their country would be portrayed in the film, and the $14 million in incentives they were offering to the production came with a few strings attached.
To be fair, countries across the world offer tax incentives to attract international productions to their shores, and these incentives do often come with basic stipulations requiring a positive representation of their country. In the case of Mexico, though, it seems the bureaucrats went above and beyond a mere script review in a virtually unprecedented case of government meddling in Hollywood affairs. Among a litany of conditions, the government required that the film include a Mexican actress, enter Srta. Sigman. In case it wasn’t clear, the Mexican government made casting decisions for the latest Bond movie. They also required that the film’s vaguely foreign-sounding bad guy, Sciarra, not be a Mexican, and that a new version of the screenplay remove the whole bit where the Mayor of Mexico City gets killed. Guess that last part’s understandable.
In addition to casting changes and script rewrites, the government allegedly offered $6 million dollars solely to portray the more flashy, modern elements of the Mexico City skyline. In addition, the producers were prohibited from featuring the Mexican police at any point in the film.
Without a doubt this all sounds rather suspicious, but be you a government agency or fat cat investor, $14 million will win you the right to make a few decisions on any film. And hey, it brought the world Stephanie Sigman, so… órale.