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|Feb 6th, 2005, 11:27 AM||#1|
Relieved of duty.
Eon Productions spokeswoman says 'no new James Bond 007 yet, no production start date
Eon Productions spokeswoman says `no new James Bond 007 yet, no production start date`
“We just don’t have an actor at the moment. We don’t have a starting date for the production at this time. What more can I say?” And as for whether or not James Bond should be a Scotsman: “I can’t comment on that. You know I can’t.” said an Eon Productions spokeswoman this weekend - reports Times Online.
Word on the street — well the bookies anyway — is that Dougray Scott is going to be the next James Bond. Kenny Farquharson doesn’t mind as long as whoever is picked is, like the first Bond, ‘one of us’
He was suave, dangerous and licensed to kill. But what made James Bond fascinating to me as a Dundee schoolboy watching the 007 films on television in the 1970s was the way he spoke. Bond had a Scottish accent.
True it was a curious, lisping Scottish accent, probably, I deduced, from Edinburgh or some other faraway place. But the fact that the world’s greatest spy was one of us made our pigeon chests puff with pride.
Naive it may have been; irrational even. Why should sharing a place of birth with someone mean very much at all? But it felt good that James Bond was a fellow Scot. A Scotsman could be a man of action, he could win the girl and save the world.
Thirty years on, as the identity of the next 007 becomes the source of speculation, these memories of the suave and sophisticated Bond of Sean Connery come tumbling back.
Dismiss it as romanticism if you will, but there comes a time when our national pride makes demands of us and this is one such time. The next actor to play James Bond in the movies must be a bona fide, r-rolling, natural-born Scotsman.
The succession has been in doubt ever since Pierce Brosnan called a press conference in the Bahamas late last year to confirm: “It’s over, it’s over, it’s absolutely over.”
The 51-year-old had been forcibly retired by Eon Productions, the keeper of the Bond brand which, after the death of Albert “Cubby” Broccoli in 1996, has been run by Barbara, his daughter, and Michael Wilson, her stepbrother.
Since then many names have been mooted as the new Bond, including Hugh Jackman, the Australian star of Van Helsing, the Irish hellraiser Colin Farrell and Clive Owen, the excellent English actor recently nominated for an Oscar for his role in Closer. But four months after Brosnan’s departure, and with principal photography on the 21st Bond movie due to begin later this year, nobody has been anointed.
Then last week came news. William Hill the bookmaker announced it had stopped taking bets on the Bond succession after a flurry of wagers on one candidate.
At one London bookie a woman had placed a bet of £870 at odds of 8-1. “She told us she had some inside information,” said a William Hill spokesman. “Perhaps she knew he had been to a casting, but she wouldn’t say.”
News of the actor’s name should gladden the heart of every Scottish male who has ever imagined himself packing a Walther PPK under his immaculate Savile Row tux — and every Scottish woman who has imagined creasing his lapels. The actor was Dougray Scott, the 39-year-old who starred opposite Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible II. He is a Scot and has the Fife accent to prove it, along with a stack of dog-eared Hibernian FC match programmes.
Asked what kind of Bond he would make, Scott once answered: “Scottish, manly.” Amen to that. He has even admitted meeting Barbara Broccoli. “I’ve spoken to her socially,” is all he will say. But the Bond buffs have been nodding sagely to themselves and are preparing for a coronation.
There is more at stake here than one actor’s movie career. More, even, than national pride. Jack McConnell, the first minister, can talk all he likes about raising Scotland’s profile in the world and moving beyond the cliches of tartan and heather.
Well, a handsome Scottish 007 dispatching terrorists with style, wit and a steely ruthlessness would be a pretty cool advert for the homeland. Such free promotion would be priceless, in both senses of the word.
More importantly, a Scottish Bond would improve the romantic opportunities open to every Scottish man. Scotsmen are often short and ginger with faces like potatoes. All the more reason why our PR has to be good.
If young, single Scottish men go abroad and find themselves chatting to attractive young women, it can only be a good thing if their accent makes them sound like the new 007. At present this effect is only achievable if a young man puts on Connery’s lisp, which long ago became a cliche.
As appearances go, the prospects are good for the Scottish pretender to the 007 crown. But let us not get too carried away on Scott’s behalf. In the past, frontrunners have failed to get the prize — in 1986 Brosnan was seen as a dead cert to replace Roger Moore before a contractual wrangle scuppered his chances and the part went to Timothy Dalton. Brosnan had to content himself with Remington Steele.
Now is not a time for complacency. Especially when the future direction of the Bond movies is currently the subject of a nasty Hollywood feud.
MGM, the studio that makes and distributes the 007 films, is keen to take the franchise further down the blockbuster route. This means more explosions, invisible cars and big set-piece stunts such as the ridiculous exploding ice palace in Die Another Day.
Broccoli disagrees. She is keen to see a return to movies that are more centred on the character of the secret agent, exploring his dark side and relying less on thunderflash and gimmickry. Recent movie successes such as Mission: Impossible and The Bourne Supremacy prove that gritty, tightly plotted spy thrillers can still make money.
Broccoli also favours young British actors rather than action-hero Australians or Americans. The counter from MGM is that a more low-key Bond would rake in less at the box office, even if it was a better film.
In the movie trade press an insider has been quoted as saying: “It does not bode well. There is a lot of ego, money and belief at stake — nobody is backing down.
“The Broccoli camp believe they are the keepers of an untouchable tradition, and the money men want their megabucks.”
The argument for a Scottish Bond fits nicely into that debate. Somewhere down the line we have lost sight of the fact that 007 is as Scottish as midges.
Broccoli’s take on Bond is more in keeping with Ian Fleming’s intention and in tune with Bond’s Scottish antecedents.
These are considerable. Fleming had Scottish roots — Robert Fleming, his grandfather, came from Dundee and founded a banking dynasty. Ian hated the Scottish weather, preferring the warmth of Jamaica to the grouse moors, but he was proud of his Scottish connections.
Perhaps in response to requests for more information about Bond’s background, Fleming wrote a (premature) obituary for him in You Only Live Twice.
He said 007 was born of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother. After being thrown out of Eton after two terms because of “some alleged trouble with one of the boys’ maids”, he went to Fettes in Edinburgh, his father’s old school.
Andrew Lycett, Fleming’s biographer, believes the Scottish element was crucial to the character of Bond.
“I think Fleming’s Bond is a hybrid Anglo-Scottish-European. The Scottish part of his nature is reflected in his rugged manliness and also — something that comes out more in the books than the films — his dour professionalism.
“He was described by Fleming as ‘an anonymous blunt instrument wielded by a government department. When at home in London, Bond is looked after significantly by a Scottish housekeeper — he likes his quiet domesticity’.”
Of course, the association of Bond with Scotland in the public mind is primarily due to Connery and the six films he did as 007, starting with Dr No in 1962 and ending with Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. (Let us draw a charitable veil over Never Say Never Again, the renegade Bond movie he did in 1983 outwith the Eon/MGM stable. Connery later admitted: “I was a toilet.”) Connery’s take on 007 was remarkably close to Fleming’s original conception — the reason, perhaps, that he remains most people’s favourite big-screen Bond.
Fans of Scott believe their man’s roots would make him the ideal Bond for the next phase of the 007 story.
Patricia Ridout is a 37-year-old billing clerk in a plumbing firm in Queens, New York. She is also one of the founders of the Dougray Scott Unplugged website. “I think the image of a tall, broody, dark, rather enigmatic Scotsman embodies the very essence of Bond,” she says. “And in my opinion, Dougray Scott fits that image perfectly.”
She, of course, is biased. Scott is not though the only Scot who would fit the Bond mould. Gerard Butler, the 35-year-old Glaswegian star of The Phantom of the Opera and Dear Frankie, also ticks the boxes. Moreover, he has a Bond track record (however modest) playing a role described as “Leading Seaman — HMS Devonshire” in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. The name of Ewan McGregor has been mentioned, but without much conviction. If the criteria demands someone suave, dark and handsome, then ginger and gawky just isn’t going to work.
[Continuation is next post]
|Feb 6th, 2005, 11:28 AM||#2|
Relieved of duty.
Scott remains the leading Caledonian contender, but he is on record as being wary of the Bond role. His main concern? Fear of comparisons with Connery.
“I’m very flattered that people consider me good enough to play James Bond, but I couldn’t play that part any better than Sir Sean did,” he once said. “To be honest, I’m not convinced I’m suave enough.” But that was five years ago and the actor and the man have matured.
So the scene is set. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the screenwriters of The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day, are said to have finished their first draft of what is known as Bond 21. Rumours suggest it is a version of Casino Royale, the first Bond book, the rights to which are reported to have been obtained by Eon. Quentin Tarantino has said he would love to direct it.
Previously the book has only been filmed as a 1967 spy spoof, starring David Niven and featuring Woody Allen, Peter Sellers, Orson Welles and Deborah Kerr.
Fortunes, both artistic and financial, are there to be made and lost. The last Bond film took £250m worldwide, and that was before merchandising was taken into account.
As for the star, other names mentioned include Jude Law (The Talented Mr Ripley, Closer), Eric Bana (Hulk, Troy), and a candidate for the first black Bond, Colin Salmon, who had a role as an MI6 agent in Die Another Day. Or how about the Welshman Ioan Gruffudd (King Arthur)? A spokeswoman for Eon said yesterday that no announcement was expected any time soon.
Other complicating factors are the takeover of MGM by the Japanese-owned Sony Corporation for £2.78 billion last September, leading to a re-examination of its strategy.
Meanwhile, the realisation that some Scottish cultural properties must be jealously guarded does not seem to have dawned on Scotland’s politicians.
An inquiry to the first minister’s office last week on whether he thought the next Bond should be a Scot elicited only silence. Shame! The issue has not been a topic of hot debate at Holyrood or the subject of a patriotic motion in the House of Commons. Yet.
Before the bookmakers stopped all betting last week, Dougray Scott was 6-9 with Clive Owen in second place on 5-2 and Jackman and McGregor on 4-1.
Fleming’s Bond always had a keen eye for the odds. The 1961 novel Thunderball begins like this: “It was one of those days when it seemed to James Bond that all life, as someone put it, was nothing but a heap of six-to-four against.” From that vantage point, the odds on repatriating Bond are not bad at all.
|Feb 6th, 2005, 11:43 AM||#3|
Rookie 00 Agent
Over at Absolutely Bond, the infamous insider 'P-B' claims Owen will be announced as the new Bond this week. So someone is not right. Eon says the search is still on, P-B says Owen has signed and will be announced sometime in the next few days. Just worth noting, P-B has claimed in the past James Purefoy was the only man being considered and then said Brosnan was still in the frame and that was after Brosnan had said "Bond was behind him." His track record is rather poor.
|Feb 6th, 2005, 01:35 PM||#5|
Rookie 00 Agent
I never read that MI6 had said that. I will check their site. Thanks for the heads-up.
The thing is, Bond 21 is unlikely to begin filming until Jan 2006 so there is no great rush to announce the new Bond. The actor can be announced in summer or early fall/autumn. Perhaps this is more likely?
|Feb 6th, 2005, 02:31 PM||#6|
Rookie 00 Agent
I checked MI6 - the latest news they're reporting is:
"Eon Productions spokeswoman says `no new James Bond 007 yet, no production start date "
I can't find any item which reports a press announcement in mid-February.
|Feb 7th, 2005, 12:32 AM||#10|
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Would they announce before Casino Royale before the Oscars??? If Clive Owen wins an Oscar would that then take him out of the running? Or would a new precident be set? I know there's a lot of Owen detractors roundabout but my voye is still set firmly on him.
|Feb 8th, 2005, 11:30 AM||#13|
ONCE WAS NOT ENOUGH
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The only thing that would make me think Dalton is possible is that he's very close freinds with Barbara Broccoli and that Pierce was canned.
We all thought it was odd to can Pierce for Clive Owen or Hugh Jackman or James Purefoy or whatever...
but canning him for Dalton wouldn't be so odd, especially if it was Casino Royale.
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