'Hemlock Grove' Star Famke Janssen on Playing Badass Women and Her Bond Girl Legacy

Hemlock Grove star Famke Janssen says she hopes she's had "the tiniest little bit of an effect" on advancing the image of Bond women

Photo: Steve Wilkie/Netflix

Famke Janssen has a knack for tackling strong, butt-kicking female characters. (See: Goldeneye, X-Men, her arc on How to Get Away With Murder).

That valuable ability is currently on display in the third and final season of Netflix’s gothic horror drama Hemlock Grove, and the actress talked to PEOPLE about the show, her Bond girl legacy and what initially appealed to her about her latest role.

“I think initially when it was pitched to me they referenced Twin Peaks and I just remembered loving Twin Peaks so much,” she says. “The reason why I said yes to it, there was something in the pilot script that was so cunning and unpredictable, but I always like characters who have a bit of a sense of humor about it too, a bit more tongue in cheek at times, so that was the initial attraction.”

One of her earliest roles was the beautiful but deadly Xenia Onatopp in 1995’s GoldenEye opposite Pierce Brosnan as 007, and Janssen admits it was life-changing.

“The Bond movie sort of propelled me into the business, even though I had done smaller independent films before,” says Janssen. “There’s always a catch-22 with these types of movies because historically women have just been categorized or demeaned in whatever ways in these films, so I was very clear about what as a woman it was like to be part of that franchise and what could potentially happen after that.”

Janssen is proud of her GoldenEye role and how the women in Bond movies have evolved over time.

“I think after 50 years of having been around, the Bond movies have really proven that they do go with the times. They had a woman as M, they had Monica Bellucci, who is 50, play a Bond woman or whatever we want to still call her, the demeaning names or whatever, so I think it’s interesting to see that,” Janssen says. “There are still some stereotypical things that people have to deal with at times, but at the same time they can give people opportunities in careers and I think the stigma is gone a little bit in the way that it was there before.”

Janssen goes on to say that she thinks the Bond films have adapted to be slightly more socially aware and less stereotypical in their depictions of women.

“I’m really happy that, especially with a vehicle in the Bond genre, which really traditionally hasn’t been very kind to its women, that I’ve had maybe, hopefully, the tiniest little bit of an effect,” she says. “That those women could be strong and different and unique and that’s what I tried to do with the parts that come my way. I think it’s getting a little better now with the introduction of Netflix shows, and of course Amazon and HBO. We are seeing a lot more interesting females, and strong female-driven shows.”

Which brings us back to Janssen’s role and her character Olivia’s arc on the final season of Hemlock Grove, which she says will feature no shortage of drama.

“The unraveling of Olivia, that to me was something fun to play, having this sort of alter ego, this imaginary friend with her at all times who only she could see and talk to. As an actress those are the types of fun, silly things to play,” Janssen explains. “There is part of the finale that, of course, the background of her being an actress is sort of brought back and she ends up being up on a stage and forgetting her lines. There were some fun, interesting bits to play in all of that.”

“It’s going to go out with a bang,” she adds. “It’s Hemlock Grove: there is death, obviously. People are dying and you can kill them off when you don’t come back for next season, so there’s that to look forward to.”

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