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  M.   October 19, 2008

Bond girl’s gran on how teen became 007 beauty QUANTUM OF SOLACE

Day one in her new job and to Gemma Arterton it seemed like a dream.

She was kissing a shirtless Daniel Craig – and we’re not talking just a peck on the cheek.

Gemma, 22, was wrapped in the kind of clinch that has already seen her labelled as the sexiest-ever Bond girl – even before the new movie Quantum Of Solace reaches cinemas.

“Kissing Daniel was great, I can’t pretend it wasn’t – I was just like a giggly girl and he was very cool,” Gemma says.

“It was my first day on set, and I couldn’t get that image out of my head, from Casino Royale, of him walking out of the sea in his trunks.

“I mumbled something like, ‘I just kissed you!’ and he said, ‘Yes, you did, and now we have to do it again.’

“I have to admit I was in a daze. I will say, he’s an incredible kisser.”

CHASING A DREAM

Gemma’s progress from shop girl to Bond girl has been an amazing transformation. Now she’s even being talked about around Hollywood as a future Oscars contender.

And no one has watched with greater pride than her grandmother, 68-year-old Helen Sarfas – who remembers Gemma as a little girl, raised by a working-class mum, with a dream she was determined to chase.

“It’s the stuff of fairytales, and I’m so very, very pleased and proud,” Helen says.

“Success hasn’t come easy for Gemma. She never had a silver spoon in her mouth.

“The nearest she ever came to Hollywood was a quick visit there on holiday.”

It’s hard to believe it now, but the feisty Bond beauty was once rather plain.

Her gran says she was born with a shock of black hair and a bizarre quirk that runs in the family – the stump of a sixth finger on each hand.

They were removed when she was a few days old. “To be honest, she was not the prettiest of newborn babies,” Helen says.

Gemma was born at Gravesend Hospital in Kent – a long way from Hollywood.

“Like most little girls and boys, Gemma was chubby, mainly in her face, until she grew out of her puppy fat.

“Now she’s so slim – probably a bit too much so in my view! I told her I thought she was getting too thin. It looked to me as if she had lost a lot of weight.

“I asked her, ‘Are you eating properly? Are you looking after yourself?’ But she has blossomed as she got older. She was the ugly duckling who turned into a swan.

“When I saw her in the trailer for the movie she looked so stunning, I could hardly believe it was my grand-daughter.”

Home for Gemma was a threebedroom semi shared with her sister Hannah, three years younger, and mum.

Her parents divorced when she was six. But dad Barry, a welder, stayed closely involved in his daughters’ upbringing.

Sally, 45, took on a variety of jobs to help make ends meet. She still works as a cleaner… possibly the first Bond girl’s mum to don Marigolds and an apron.

MAKING OF A STAR

“It’s a testament to her hard work that Gemma is the young woman she has become,” Helen says. “Gemma always said that when she’s famous the first thing she’s going to do is pay off her mum’s mortgage.

“She appreciates what her mother has done for her.”

Gemma won a scholarship to the famous acting school RADA – though she was reluctant at first, saying only posh girls went there. She helped to pay her way with a part-time job on a beauty counter in London’s Covent Garden.

She hadn’t even finished her studies when she was offered a leading role in her first movie, the hit remake of the St Trinian’s schoolgirl comedy.

She was brilliant on screen. She was sensational on the red carpet too, arriving at the premiere accidentally wearing her borrowed Louis Vuitton dress back-to-front… and then the breeze blew it up to show off her bottom.

It worked. Important people sat up and took notice. Within six months, Gemma got the call from the Bond producers to audition alongside Daniel.

It was her first encounter with the sexiest Bond since Sean Connery. And the scariest day of her life.

Nerves made her burst out laughing when she realised that at 5ft 7in tall she would tower over 5ft 10in Daniel in the fearsomely high stilettos they made her character wear.

“I said something really stupid, trying to break the ice,” she says. “I blurted out, ‘I hope you don’t feel inadequate because I’m taller’!”

She thought she had blown her big chance, but she was offered the part – beating 1,500 hopefuls.

As for Daniel, he had to wear stacked heels.

Producers saw in her a new kind of Bond heroine. Streetwise, straight-talking, not exactly the girl next door, but certainly one that was more accessible, as 007 discovers.

Gemma was hard at work on Quantum Of Solace when she was offered her next big role – starring in the BBC’s four-part adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, which finished a fortnight ago to huge acclaim.

THE NEXT BIG THING

Now she is in Morocco on the set of the £50million blockbuster Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time.

And there’s a new man in her life too – Spanish stuntman Eduardo Munoz, 19, who was hired to teach her horseriding.

In the space of a few weeks, it seems, Gemma’s career is rocketing. She is moving on, from hometown girl to celebrity. She has even just become the face of Avon’s new Bond Girl 007 perfume.

Hollywood is in awe…they speak about her as the new Catherine Zeta Jones.

Will it change Helen’s granddaughter? Helen doesn’t think so. She believes that coming from a solid, ordinary family will give Gemma the strength of character to cope.

“I always told her right from when she was a little girl that she would go somewhere and be very big,” Helen says. “She always had a shining personality – captivating, I think.

“I used to say to her: ‘Go for it. It’s out there. Do what you want to do and what you’re happiest doing’.”

In the new movie Gemma plays Agent Field, an MI6 spy ordered to keep a close eye on a renegade Bond. And keeping tabs on 007 inevitably means ending up in bed with him…

Helen says: “Gemma still couldn’t quite believe she was a Bond girl. But I’ve no doubt she’ll be absolutely fantastic – sensational!”

Source: Mirror.co.uk