Trade press reports have rounded up all the James
Bond casting rumours and uncovered a few new tidbits
on the Casino Royale production status...
007 Casting Rumour Round-Up
31st August 2005
news that Oscar-nominated screenwriter Paul Haggis has been brought
in to polish the "Casino Royale" script for three weeks,
detailed background information on the state of the production
has leaked via a Hollywood
Reporter article today.
Sources familiar with the situation told THR that the producers
and Brosnan were too far apart on terms to close a deal for his
fifth James Bond film. One Sony executive described Brosnan's
salary demands, which within the industry have been said to be
as much as $30 million, "usurious." This figure has
no doubt been blown up by the whispers, but MI6
revealed the numbers that were involved at the moment when
the deal broke down. Still, commented Steven Jay Rubin, author
of "The Complete James Bond Encyclopedia": "They
shouldn't have let him go. Now they have to find a guy they can
patch up to a seven-year contract."
"It was a big mistake to let Pierce go," agreed casting
agent Debra Zane. "He's got it all. Who cares if he's in
his early 50s? He's completely Bond."
In November, the many players who are involved in casting the
new Bond - including Amy Pascal, chairman of the Sony Pictures
Entertainment motion picture group - held their first meeting
at a British men's club in London, but they were unable to reach
an agreement, says the report. MI6 revealed how the decision was
made in an exclusive
covering producer Michael G. Wilson's comments in May.
Above: The four
key players who will decide the next James Bond - Michael
G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Amy Pascal and Martin Campbell.
Some casting that has been decided however, is that Judi Dench
will play M. and John Cleese will be Q - despite the actor not
having a role in an early draft of the script. The casting
of a new Miss Moneypenny is moving forward says THR following
Bond's statement that she would leave the series with Brosnan.
According to talent agents, co-producers Michael G. Wilson and
Barbara Broccoli rarely agree on casting decisions. One source
close to the movie reported that Broccoli liked "Layer Cake"
star Daniel Craig, 37, but Wilson didn't. Broccoli also thought
Australian star Hugh Jackman, 36, who in addition to playing Wolverine
in "X-Men" has appeared in Broadway musicals, wasn't
masculine enough. Colin Farrell, 29, was judged too much of a
bad boy. Eric Bana, 37, star of "Troy" and the upcoming
"Munich," wasn't good-looking enough. Ewan McGregor,
34, was too short. "Their natural instinct is to do what's
been done before," the source said.
Compounding the challenge, several bigger stars have passed on
the opportunity to play Bond. When Clive Owen, 41, was approached
by Campbell, who directed him in "Beyond Borders," he
told Campbell that he wasn't interested in the role, his spokesman
said. "He already had so many interesting, varied offers
on the table that he wanted to keep his options open," he
Above: Goran Visnjic - confirmed as
screen tested and a favourite of director Michael Campbell.
Martin Campbell, who helmed "GoldenEye,"
has his own ideas about reinventing the franchise, according
to THR. He was involved in the recent hiring of Paul Haggis
("Million Dollar Baby," "Crash") for
three weeks to polish old Bond hands Neal Purvis and Robert
Wade ("The World Is Not Enough," "Die Another
"Campbell wants to find a complete unknown,"
one source said. "He wants to take credit for re-energizing
the franchise again." MI6
was the first to report that Campbell was backing Croatian
actor Goran Visnjic for the role back in May.
There have been rumors of a black Bond: British "Prime
Suspect" star and 007's agent cohort on the last three
films, Colin Salmon, 43. Of the rumoured "final
four", "ER" star Goran Visnjic, 32, who
studied for 10 days in London with a dialogue coach and
did a screen test.
There's even been speculation about a baby Bond: Brit Henry
Cavill ("Goodbye, Mr. Chips"), 22, also did a
screen test, along with 28-year-old Australian Alex O'Lachlan
("The Oyster Farmer"). Glasgow-born Ewan Stewart
("Titanic"), 47, was reported to have tested for
the role but did not, according to a Sony spokesman. "There
is no pending announcement," he added.
One campaign by Julian McMahon, 37, who has starred in "Nip/Tuck"
and "Fantastic Four," already appears to have backfired.
After the Australian actor struck a Bond pose, dressed in a tuxedo
and wielding a gun, along with the headline "License to Thrill"
on the April cover of Angeleno Modern Luxury, he might have alienated
the producers, sources said. Campbell did want to test McMahon.
But according to several sources, the actor's new representatives
at CAA and Three Arts Entertainment advised him to turn down a
test, a charge a CAA spokesman denied. The producers are determined
to give Bond a face-lift. Before MGM's sale to Sony was finalized,
MGM execs arranged for "Layer Cake" director Matthew
Vaughn to meet with the Broccoli family about directing the next
Bond, possibly with Craig as his star. "They loved him more
than me," Vaughn said ruefully. "I would have nailed
THR's report claims the "producers are concerned that the
franchise has been skewing older as the boomer audience that grew
up with Bond ages". In deciding to adapt Ian Fleming's first
Bond tale, the 1953 novel "Casino Royale," they can
reintroduce Bond as a young 28-year-old. "They were looking
young," the agent of one Bond wannabe said. "They said
they wanted the next generation's James Bond. Someone the younger
audience could relate to."
Jude Law, 32, earned the most votes in
a Total Film Magazine Internet poll on Bond. Gerard Butler
("The Phantom of the Opera"), 35, also has been
mentioned as a real contender. Other names that have surfaced
-- either in the media or inside the Hollywood beltway --
are Hugh Grant ("Bridget Jones's Diary"), 44;
Ralph Fiennes ("The Constant Gardener"), 42; Rufus
Sewell ("The Legend of Zorro"), 37; Matthew MacFadyen
("Pride and Prejudice"), 31; Karl Urban ("The
Bourne Supremacy"), 33; Orlando Bloom ("Kingdom
of Heaven"), 28; Jason O'Mara ("Band of Brothers"),
33; Jack Davenport ("Pirates of the Caribbean"),
32; Robbie Williams ("De-Lovely"), 31; Jeremy
Northam ("Gosford Park"), 43; Dominic West ("The
Wire"), 35; Dougray Scott ("Dark Water"),
39; Rupert Friend ("Pride & Prejudice"), 26;
David Morrissey, ("Derailed"), 41; Gary Stretch
("Alexander"), 36; James Purefoy ("Rome"),
41; and Ioan Gruffudd ("Fantastic Four"), 31.
But there is a risk in casting a young Bond, one former
Bond marketer said: Although the global franchise needs
to be made more contemporary -- many kids see Bond movies
as belonging to their parents -- "the danger of going
too young to broaden the appeal is that you alienate the
core, which is males over 25. He has to wear the suit well,
as Brosnan did. You can't lose sight of the core."
Broccoli and Wilson will find themselves competing with movies
like "The Bourne Identity" series, starring Matt Damon,
one ICM agent said. The "Bourne" filmmakers "took
a '70s low-tech action franchise and made it work like gangbusters.
Now they (the Bond producers) have to make Bond relevant all over
"It's a tough casting job to replace someone whose qualities
are stuck in people's heads," said Marcia Ross, senior vp
casting at Walt Disney Studios. "He can't be so profoundly
different that he's jarring. You have to find someone with similar
elements. He has to be charming, intelligent, sexy, commanding
and authoritative. You can argue that you bring more value to
the part by going to an actor who the audience knows and likes.
But the minute you get into somebody who has a career, he'll want
to be paid."
Casino Royale Coverage