A Canadian as James Bond? It "could work," 007 producer says
(L-R) Wax replicas of 007 actors Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Pierce Brosnan are stirred but not shaken at Madame Tussaud's museum in Berlin. (Photo: Reuters)
There's a lot of talk these days about who will become the seventh official James Bond, now that Daniel Craig has completed his 15-year and five-film assignment as agent 007. Bond film producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are examining various options, stating they wouldn't cast a woman as Bond and hinting they wouldn't choose an actor in his 20s (too young) or 50s (too old). But a Canadian actor as James Bond wouldn't be out of the question, as Barbara Broccoli told me in an interview in 2006 following the announcement of Craig as Bond No. 6. Broccoli and Wilson have checked out Canuck actors in the past, so maybe also in the future?
NEW YORK — How about a Canadian James Bond, eh?
It could happen one day, says 007 movie producer Barbara Broccoli, because Canucks have the right Commonwealth stuff.
For that very reason, it would be almost unthinkable to have an American playing the iconic spy.
"I think a Canadian could work, " Broccoli said yesterday, at a press junket for "Casino Royale," the 21st official James Bond film that opens Nov. 17. Britain's Daniel Craig is the new Agent 007.
"I'm pretty dubious about (casting) an American, because it's just a different sensibility ... there's a sort of Commonwealth sensibility, which I think is a sort of a requirement."
In fact, Broccoli and co-producer Michael G. Wilson (who is also her stepbrother) travelled to Canada on top-secret missions in the late 1980s to talk to Canadian acting talent when they were reviving the Bond franchise when it seemed it might have run its course.
She didn't name names of Canadian actors they considered for Bond and other roles.
They ultimately chose Ireland's Pierce Brosnan to play the fifth James Bond. The Republic of Ireland, despite close geographic and economic ties to Britain, is a former member of the Commonwealth. The second actor to play James Bond, George Lazenby, is from Australia, which is still part of the Commonwealth. The other three ex-Bonds — Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton — are from the U.K.
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Brosnan played Bond for four successive films, beginning with "GoldenEye" in 1995 and ending with "Die Another Day" in 2002. Broccoli and Wilson decided to cast a new actor in the lead role after they untangled the complicated movie rights to "Casino Royale," which is based on the original 1953 Ian Fleming novel that launched the Bond legend.
"Casino Royale" originally appeared in the 1950s as a TV stage play, before the movie franchise was started by Broccoli's father Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, along with Canadian-born Harry Saltzman. And a Yank, Barry Nelson, played the unofficial first Bond.
"When they did 'Casino Royale' for CBS they had an American and they called him Jimmy Bond. And they didn't seem to really pull it off, " Broccoli said.
But even though Canadians might be considered the next time there's a Bond posting, neither Broccoli nor new hire Craig are in any rush to change faces again.
They both said yesterday they are delighted with how "Casino Royale" turned out, and the film has been well received by the press here.
"I'm really incredibly gratified by the reaction to Daniel, because I think he's a spectacular actor, " Broccoli said. "And I think he's so happy that people are accepting him."
There is still some major Canadian involvement in "Casino Royale," which presents the origin of Agent 007 in a much darker and grittier context than previously seen.
One of the three screenwriters is London, Ont.-born Paul Haggis, who also co-wrote and directed "Crash," last year's Oscar winner for Best Picture.
Haggis volunteered for the Bond writing assignment because he's a fan, Broccoli said.
"We had a great script to begin with, and he just made it better." 🌓
(Originally published in the Toronto Star on Nov. 7, 2006.)
Daniel Craig as Bond, James Bond.