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 MI6 now has extra previously unpublished details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" - Shooting & Release Dates
Royale" - May Report
Royale" - April Report
Royale" - Release Date Announced
Royale" - Bollywood Bonding
Royale" - March Report
Royale" - James Bond Begins?
Royale" 2006 Announced
Many thanks to David Allen.