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

Following yesterday's 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 Samantha 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 said.

Above: Goran Visnjic - confirmed as screen tested and a favourite of director Michael Campbell.

Bond director 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 Day").

"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 Bond."

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 again."

"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."

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