“Unlike the American government, we prefer not to get our bad news from CNN.”
BOND 19 . GOLDENEYE
Martin Campbell . 1994
“Hello Mr. Bond. You’ve got the part.”
Agent Fred Spector was calling his client at his Malibu home. It was June 1, 1994. “An outer body experience.” Seven days later he was introduced to the media in London, sporting a full beard for his Robinson Crusoe role. Finally, after 30 years after first seeing Bond and 13 years of Broccoli foreplay, Pierce Brosnan was Bond, James Bond - and said so for the first time in the Pinewood version of the Monaco Casino on January 16.
“My Bond will be charming
and sophisticated -
but also utterly ruthless.”
“I try to make him human. Making him real for myself. When you come to play the role, you have so much fucking baggage, so much mythology. How do you make him real for yourself? ?? There’s only one man that you want to take the belt from, and that’s Connery. So you go into the ring to win. It’s a challenge. Connery had a sadistic side to him. There’s a lethal quality to Bond and I want to bring out the flinty side of the character. After all, he’s a trained killer and is licensed to kill. Above all, playing the role is about confidence.”
Pierce had an harder edge now...
The eight year wait had been good for (and bad) to him... His wife, ex-Bond girl Cassandra Harris (For Your Eyes Only), had died from ovarian cancer, leaving him to raise their three children. Like Dalton on his second time around, he looked sharper, more mature - and he became the biggest box-office Bond of them all.
Moore cabled Pierce: FROM THE OLD JAMES BOND TO THE NEW JAMES BOND - KILL ’EM SPORT. Connery praised Brosnan’s acting (the eldest of Brosnan’s three sons is named Sean). Dalton sent a good luck note. “It was nice to be acknowledged by the guys.” The one he felt was casting the longest shadow was, naturally, Connery.
Brosnan grew up with Connery’s template. “And contrary to what you might have read, I never dreamt of, or wanted to play, this character, until ‘86 when they offered me the role the first time. You've got to respect the role. You've got to really pay attention to that. You can't just walk through it and play it flippantly. It's a very loved role. When you read the books, the guy was human. He was hard man, but he had fear, he had doubts. He was pretty brutal.”
Finally, the entire UK has been represented in 007.
Scottish Connery, English Moore, Welsh Dalton
and now, the Irish Brosnan.
He proved to be the last Bond selected by Cubby Broccoli. Not that Pierce had been a foregone conclusion...
007 . Plan A was inviting Timothy Dalton back to work. the Moore-script being rewritten to suit Dalton’s more realistic hero. “I was supposed to make one more but it was cancelled because MGM and the film's producers got into a lawsuit which lasted for five years. After that, I didn’t want to do it anymore - too much time had passed since Licence To Kill.” While shooting Scarlett, Tim officially retired as Bond on April 12, 1994. Brosnan was announced on June 8.
Ralph Fiennes almost finessed a three-Bond deal. Mercifully, he didn’t - killing John Steed in The Avengers, instead. (The 1998 farce was stolen by its villain… Sean Connery). Twenty-two years earlier, Fiennes;’ cousin, the UK’s most famous living explorer - Ranulph (or Ran) Fiennes - was in the last six to succeed Connery in Live and Let Die. And, of course, Ralph became the new M at the end of Skyfall.
Hugh Grant was another unlikely notion. Jason Isaacs would come of age as the villainous Lucius Malefoy in the Harry Potter films. The giant Irishman Liam Neeson would co-star with Brosnan in the 2006 Western, Seraphim Falls. Jeremy Northam was, perhaps, too elegant (shades of the Moore clothes horse) and Shakespearean stage star James Purefoy had yet to win a screen role. He was later a Bond wannabe actor in Maybe Baby, 2000, went on to play Beau Brummell, Blackbeard, Mark Antony and, of course, Vanity Fair’s Rawdon Crawley - and like I always say when Vanity Fair pops up, you can’t go wrong with a Crawley…
Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova . Conversations, as Danjac put it, were held with Elle McPherson but director Joel Schumacher stole her for Batman & Robin . Eva Herzigova, Hugh Grant's lover Elizabeth Hurley and Paulina Porizkova passed. The Polish-born Swedish dish, Izabella Scorupco accepted.
Xenia Onatopp . (Ho, ho, ho!). The German singer and actress Ute Lemper passed and Martin Campbell grabbed Famke Janssen after seeing her in rushes from Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions.
008/Alec Trevelyan/Janus . Alan Rickman was tired of villains. A previous nearly-Bond, Sean Bean took 008 to the dark side. “You know, James... I was always better." In 2011, the (much) bulkier Bean was a grizzled MI5 agent in Clearskin - opposite an actress with the very Ian Fleming name of… Tuppence Middleton.
M was a dame - Dame Judi Dench, in fact. Alias Barbara Mawdsley, or as SIS Chief of Staff Bill Tanner dubbed her: The Evil Queen of Numbers. A female M was the new director’s idea. To match reality: Sarah Remington was already nearing the end of her 1992-96 reign as the first woman chief of SIS (MI6 to you!)
“The first television that I ever did,” recalled Judi, “was with... Bernard Lee. And I was completely in awe of him. So when suddenly I was asked go play M, I was rather dumbstruck.”
Finnish director Renny Harlin had, er, conversations before the job of guiding the fifth Bond in the 17th film went to New Zealander Martin Campbell . In a London career, going from softcore comedy to the taut TV thriller, Edge of Darkness , 1985, he had previously directed three previous 007 candidates: Lewis Collins, and fellow Kiwis Sam Neill, David Warbeck. Campbell also made two dramas with the American actor Joe Don Baker, who appeared in three Bonds, GoldenEye included.
After the last three being produced by Cubby Broccoli and Michael Wilson, the new producing pair was Wilson and half-sister Barbara Broccoli, allowing Cubby “to lean on my shovel awhile.” The kids dun good! Making the most successful Bond since Moonraker.
Sadly, the man who made Bond a cinema legend ($4.49bn from 21 movies) died June 27, 1996.