It’s okay if you don’t recognize her name or picture right off the bat, because you’ve probably heard Papillon Soo quoted throughout pop culture so often you don’t realize it’s her. The model only made a brief foray into acting during her ongoing career, but it counted in ways that paid off for her big time.
Born in the UK in 1961, Papillon was the daughter of French and Chinese immigrants to London. She would have a relatively well-off childhood as well, with an initial attempt at going to law school for a career before deciding to move into modeling instead not long after.
Modeling to Film
Papillon Soo would have a quick ascent as a model, leading to international exposure and fame that would end up with a casting director reaching out to her with an upcoming role that could turn into a gateway- the newest James Bond film A View to a Kill. Papillon jumped at the chance, being cast as an underling and secondary antagonist to main players Christopher Walken and Grace Jones against the returning Roger Moore for his final outing as 007.
Roger Moore also claims this was his least favorite Bond and furthest from the character, which is saying something since he was in Moonraker but hey, we all have our opinions. Nonetheless, this would be Papillon Soo’s debut role as… Pan Ho. I know Hollywood still is just getting a handle on Asian characters in the film but damn y’all, how did nobody say something earlier? She would end up as just one of Bond’s romances before the spy let her die in a flooded mine. Romance may not be dead, but those miners are.
That single appearance in 1985 would lead to another role in a legendary war film by the at the time prime Stanley Kubrick. I use prime loosely as it mostly involves various levels of psychological torture by the director on actors. Papillon took the role though, and ended up playing the Vietnamese prostitute that would earn her fame for years to come with one simple phrase, “Me love you long time”.
Look I wasn’t around for the Vietnam War, and if I had been it would’ve been spent tracking Ronald Reagan for some old-fashioned Terminator-ing, so I can’t say how accurate the dialogue for her character was. Then again, Kubrick hadn’t been there either so guess we’re the same there. Either way, her entire two-minute scene playing a prostitute making the world’s most enthusiastic sales pitch to a couple of infantry soldiers went down in history.
Where is Papillon Soo Now?
That was kind of it for her though, a follow-up role as a Tai Chi performer in the background was then bookended with only one role as a waitress in Rutger Hauer’s thriller Split Second following three years later. She would continue modeling after, but also seemingly disappear from the face of the earth other than a few online language courses she made in the early 2000s. Papillon wouldn’t reappear until recently for an appearance at Comic-Con in 2022.
Not to say she’s been completely out of pop culture, as her entire Full Metal Jacket scene has gone on to be parodied and sampled in every way possible in the 35 years since its release. The “Me so horny” line was also sampled by 2 Live Crew back in the 90s and made it far too high on the Billboard charts to justify. Some days you really just look back at history and wonder what inane butterfly effect may have led to these events.
These days Papillon is at the con circuit, and that’s only on occasion here and there. Otherwise, she lives a quiet life, free from social media. Don’t be fooled by the Twitter link on her IMDB, it’s a white lady selling Avon and retweeting Fox News. Her Facebook page is effectively DOA as well, but hopefully, she’s just living peacefully off the grid in her golden years.