Exclusive: How is the next James Bond chosen? How close will the film be to the book? Michael G. Wilson answers these questions and more...

Casino Royale - Bond Producer Reveals More
23rd May 2005

Following James Bond producer Michael G. Wilson's talk at Claremont science and engineering school last week, a number of "Casino Royale" facts and dates came to light. MI6 now has extra previously unpublished details Wilson revealed about the forthcoming film, and his thoughts on a variety of questions on the wider aspects of the series.

With the title, director, schedule and locations set for "Casino Royale", one crucial piece is still missing from the production puzzle. Who will play James Bond 007?

Although Wilson stated that the role was still to be cast, the Bond producer did reveal who makes that crucial decision - which up until now has also been a matter for speculation. Wilson revealed, "Barbara Broccoli and I and the director Martin Campbell and the studio, Amy Pascal and people in her office. It's a consensus". Amy Pascal is the chairman Columbia Pictures - a division of Sony Pictures - who took control of MGM following the merger earlier this year. MI6 reported back in March on rumours that Pascal had the decision down to a shortlist of contenders (Clive Owen, Daniel Craig, Julian McMahon).

Above: The four key players who will decide the next James Bond - Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Amy Pascal and Martin Campbell.

So when will this consensus be reached? "As soon as possible", said Wilson. And as for the dozens of rumoured candidates, is there a shortlist or a clear favourite? "Everything is possible", he replied, keeping his cards close to his chest.

Another aspect of "Casino Royale" that has been a hot topic of discussion between fans is how close the film will be to Ian Fleming's original 1953 novel. "We hope to follow the book at least in part of the film. The book itself is too short to make up an entire film." This rationale would explain the additional location of South Africa to the production plans, with Prague looking like the more traditional setting for Fleming's material.

So how has James Bond survived for over forty years and twenty films? It's all about continuity and change, and getting the balance just right. Wilson agrees, "It's evolve or die in our business. Our films have evolved. They've been small mysteries, like Dr. No and From Russia With Love; big spectaculars, like Thunderball, Moonraker and Die Another Day, with the ice palace; they've been comedies, some of the Roger Moore ones; and more dark ones with Timothy Dalton. They've been all kinds of things."

But some things must stay the same, whatever the current trends, fashion or political climate. Wilson explained the core essentials, "Bond being a man of integrity, working for the British intelligence service, incorruptible, being fairly single-minded about what he does. You follow Bond on a plot or story that takes you to exotic places, meet interesting people along the way, women, interesting villains."

Above: British Pan paperback 9th-12th editions (1962 onwards)


Alongside his enormous input as co-producer, Wilson also enjoys Hitchcock-esque cameo roles in a number of the films in many different guises. "Hitchcock was a better actor! While I'm not superstitious, it's become kind of a tradition." His favourite cameo? "I was an Orthodox priest in one, marrying people. That wasn't bad."

It all started back in 1964 when Cubby Broccoli was leaving for Fort Knox during production of "Goldfinger". Dana and Wilson saw him off. Wilson, who was on break from law school that summer, was dressed very lightly. Broccoli said on the tarmac: "Too bad you don't have your passport with you. I could use you." Wilson said: "I just happen to have it in my back pocket!" So he boarded the plane and bought clothes and toiletries in Kentucky. He ran script pages and doubled for actors in long-distance shots: "It was kind of fun." Then he went back to school, his lark over

Whilst Wilson - sensibly - would not pick out a single film from the Bond canon as his favourite, he did name a favourite for the actors: "Goldfinger" for Connery, "The Spy Who Loved Me" for Moore, and "all of Pierce's" (perhaps not that surprising as Wilson was been co-producer on all four of Brosnan's films). He also added that the productions haven't changed much since the mid-'70s, except in scale. "Moonraker was huge, then the movies got smaller for a while, now they're big in scope again".

"Casino Royale", the 21st James Bond film, will be directed by Martin Campbell and shooting is scheduled to commence on January 17th 2006 in Prague and South Africa. No casting decisions have been made officially, including the role of 007. Stay tuned to MI6 for the latest and most accurate coverage of Casino Royale

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Many thanks to David Allen.