Nadja Regin: Serbian actor who found fame alongside Sean Connery in From Russia With Love and Goldfinger | She complained that her accent stopped her landing roles – but then came Bond
Christine Manby | Independent UK Monday 22 April 2019
If there was ever an actress naturally suited to the role in a Bond film, it had to be Nadja Regin. Her early years as a child in Nazi-occupied Serbia instilled in her a resilience and courage that prepared her for anything.
Regin, who died aged 87, was born Nadezda Poderegin in Serbia, then part of Yugoslavia. Her father Ignatije was from the Ukraine. He was a scientist and teacher. Her mother Milka hailed from Plevlje on the border with Montenegro. In 1941, the Poderegin family was living in Kraljevo when Serbian partisans tried and failed to retake the city. In revenge for the 50 Germans killed, the Nazis massacred 5,000 civilians. Their number included Ignatije. Of Russian extraction, Nadja’s father might have been spared but he refused to abandon his friends and died alongside them. His sacrifice made a lasting impression on his daughter.
She was cast in 1963’s From Russia With Love, Regin playing the mistress of MI6 boss Kerim Bey. The following year she played Bonita in Goldfinger. In the film’s famous opening sequence, Bond (Sean Connery) is enticed back to Bonita’s dressing room. When they start to kiss, he sees the reflection of an assassin in her eye and as the assassin pounces Bond uses poor Bonita as a shield.
Regin and Connery had a playful relationship on set. “I had a driver who asked me if I could get Sean Connery’s autograph while I was filming,” she told 007 magazine, “so I knocked on Sean’s door and asked for the autograph. He said, ‘Yes, if you give me a kiss!’ So I told him I’d get the driver to come up and give him a kiss!”
That same year, Regin starred as Laura Kossovich in New Zealand film Runaway, a thriller that also featured a young Kiri Te Kanawa, before she became an opera star. Regin also appeared in television shows The Saint, Danger Man and Dixon of Dock Green.