This Week In Bond (October 26th, 2022)
How time flies
“Now, your new watch. Your 20th I believe”
“How time flies”
‘Die Another Day’ can be accused of many things, but subtlety is not one of them. Pierce Brosnan’s final outing in 2002 paid homage to the (then) 40th anniversary of the series with many on-the-nose references, but for fans who have been around a while, it’s wild to think that 20 years have since passed.
It was around that time that the MI6 website really started to crank up to daily reporting on the Bond franchise activities having performed its duties, in retrospect, somewhat leisurely with weekly news bulletins. With more people having access to the Internet, discussion forums and bulletin boards being alive with discussion and rumours, and the tabloid press eager for any morsel of Bond news, it was (if you pardon the expression) a tsunami wave of activity.
One of our first major scoops was the screen testing of potential actresses for, what is known at the time as, ‘Bond 20’ (it would be two months into production until the title was confirmed). We got word that Colin Salmon, who was returning in his role as MI6 aide Robinson for the third time, had been drafted in by producers to play James Bond for the screen tests. Yes, there has been a black James Bond and it happened 20 years ago. It’s just that only a dozen or so people got to see him.
Salmon said that he played 007 opposite hopefuls Saffron Burrows, Salma Hayek, and Sophie Ellis Bextor. As usual, it was the hotel scene where Bond meets Tatiana in ‘From Russia With Love.’ “I really enjoyed the audition with Saffron Burrows," he told us at the time, "and Salma Hayek was great. Sophie Ellis Bextor came along too but I can't tell you anymore it would be more than my job's worth."
To this day, we don’t know who was up for which roles, but it’s probably safe to assume that Sophie Ellis Bextor (with no acting experience) was looked at for Miranda Frost. Saffron Burrows was probably, too, given she’s British.
Pierce Brosnan would go on to star opposite Salma Hayek in ‘After The Sunset’ (2004) and ‘Some Kind of Beautiful’ (2014).
The wild one here is Salma Hayek. The Mexican-American actress had started to make a name for herself in Hollywood with sizeable roles in ‘Wild Wild West’ and ‘Timecode’ shortly before Bond came calling, probably for the role that became Jinx. Producers opted instead for Halle Berry, who scooped an Academy Award during filming for her lead performance in ‘Monster’s Ball.’ Hayek went on to shoot her passion project ‘Frida’ instead of ‘Die Another Day,’ and landed herself a Best Actress nomination from the Academy Awards, BAFTA, and the Screen Actors Guild.
News of the screentests went around the media like wildfire. Exasperated casting director Debbie McWilliams told a reporter that someone must “have been going through her garbage cans.” We didn’t!
Visual effects wizard John Richardson, who has worked on everything from ‘Octpussy’s pre-title sequence explosion of the aircraft hanger to the model BMW Z8 you never realised was a model in ‘The World Is Not Enough,’ has a new book coming out soon. Packed to the brim with behind-the-scenes photographs, this is one not to be missed.
Our friend Calvin Dyson, who grew up with the Pierce Brosnan era, asks if it’s time to reappraise his tenure now that we’ll be ushering in the next 007 sooner or later.
Halloween may be a few days away, but there is still time to make your ‘Die Another Day’ North Korean surfing costume in time to confuse the kids.
Exit Through The Gift Shop
The Folio Society is back with its thirteenth James Bond release - Ian Fleming’s ‘For Your Eyes Only’ short story collection. We are just one away from a complete set of Fleming’s Bond work now, with ‘Octopussy & The Living Daylights’ surely due for release sometime next year.
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