Production Notes - The Living Daylights

Following the disappointing performance of "A View To A Kill" (1985), and the departure of Roger Moore, EON Productions decided that the time had come for a reinvention of the Bond series. Veteran series scriptwriter Richard Maibaum joined forces with executive producer Michael G. Wilson to create a screenplay exploring 007's very first mission, detailing how he became the great agent that we had all come to know and love. Albert R. Broccoli could appreciate what the men had done but was unhappy - he reasoned that no-one would be interested in a younger Bond. What they wanted was what they were used to, just bigger and better.

Above: Timothy Dalton as James Bond.

So Maibaum and Wilson went back to their word processors and built a whole new script around one of Ian Fleming's short stories, The Living Daylights which had appeared in the first issue of The Sunday Times Magazine in February 1962. The story offered little to go on, so the writers were forced to add a lot to Fleming's meager narrative - the story forms the basis of the first 15 minutes or so of the film before Maibaum and Wilson's own work takes over. With the script beginning to take shape, Broccoli had to begin again the arduous task of choosing a new big screen James Bond.

Broccoli had initially settled on the then 33-year-old Pierce Brosnan, an Irish actor who he had first met on the set of "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) when he joined his wife Cassandra Harris [playing Countess Lisl] and Broccoli for lunch.

Broccoli had been suitably impressed by the actor and had made a mental note even then to bear him in mind for when the inevitable happened and Roger Moore finally jumped ship. But in the intervening years, Brosnan and Harris had relocated to Hollywood where Brosnan had landed the title role in Mary Tyler Moore Television's hit comedy-drama Remington Steele.

As luck would have it, NBC had just cancelled Remington Steele as its audience figures began to decline and Brosnan looked set to step into Moore's shoes. But as word broke of Eon's interest in the young Irishman, NBC suddenly decided to renew Remington Steele. Brosnan was still under contract with Mary Tyler Moore Television and had no choice but to press on with a final series of the show.

Brosnan was devastated - he was losing the chance to play the biggest role of his career. Little did he know then that the chance would re-present itself less than a decade later and that he would be instrumental in rejuvenating a series that had looked as if it had finally died.


Above: 007's newly found monogamy meant only one leading lady in "The Living Daylights" - Maryam D'Abo played Kara Milovy.

Broccoli was forced to look harder for his new Bond. Sam Neil was briefly considered as was the unknown Australian actor Finlay Light. But on 6 August 1986, EON announced that they had their new Bond - welshman Timothy Dalton. Dalton had a distinguished stage, television and screen career stretching back two decades. In 1968, he was considered the role when Sean Connery left, and could have made his debut appearance as 007 in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) had he not deemed himself too young for the role. Dalton was approached by Broccoli again in 1982, when it looked like Moore was going to resist playing Bond again in "Octopussy" (1983). Dalton won the approval of Sean Connery, who wished him well and gave his endorsement of the new Bond.

In keeping with the changing pace of public mores, the new Bond was going to be less of a womaniser than he had been in the past. That didn't, however, mean that there wouldn't be the obligatory Bond girls, just that Bond would largely keep his hands to himself this time round.

Lead Bond girl was Maryam D'Abo, a former model who was cast as the Czech cellist Kara Milovy. D'Abo had entered Bond's sphere of influence in 1984 when she'd attended auditions for the part of Pola Ivanova in "A View To a Kill", a part that went eventually to Fiona Fullerton. She got the part in "The Living Daylights" after being employed to help out in the auditioning of an as yet unidentified actor up for the part of Bond.

D'Abo had impressed Broccoli's daughter Barbara, who was beginning to play an increasingly important role in the Bond films, and it was she who suggested that D'Abo audition for the part of Kara.

Chief villains Koskov and Brad Whitaker were played by Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbe and American Joe Don Baker respectively. Baker would return to the series after its rebirth in 1995 to play CIA agent Jack Wade in "Goldeneye" (1995) and "Tomorrow Never Dies"

Also in the cast was John Terry making his only appearance in the series as the sixth actor to play Felix Leiter in the 'official' series [seventh if you count Bernie Kasey in "Never Say Never Again"]. This was the first time the CIA agent had been seen in the EON series since David Hedison's portrayal in "Live And Let Die" (1973).


Above Top: Rogues gallery (left to right) - Andreas Wisniewski as Nekros, Joe Don Baker as Brad Whitaker and Jeroen Krabbe as Koskov.

Desmond Llewelyn, now the longest standing member of the semi-regular cast [he'd been with the series since "From Russia With Love" (1963) and had missed only one film since, "Live and Let Die"] was back, along with Robert Brown as the new M. Caroline Bliss, who had played half of the title roles in the TV film "Charles and Diana: A Royal Love Story" (1982), came on board as the new Moneypenny.

Production proper kicked off at Pinewood Studios on Monday 29 September 1986, the press still not having met the new Bond and his leading lady. It wasn't until the main unit relocated to Vienna, again under the direction of John Glen, that a press conference was staged. On Sunday 5 October, Dalton and D'Abo stepped into the full glare of publicity as the world's press, eager for their first glimpse of the new 007, descended on the city. At the conference, he and Broccoli fended off accusations that the character had become "paper thin" and asserted that the new Bond was going to be tougher and psychologically deeper than before.

The production stayed in Vienna for two weeks, shooting at the Cape Deme, the Reisenaad Big Wheel in Prater Park [that had last been used as a location in "The Third Man" (1950)] and the Musikverein concert hall. Gibraltar was the next port of call to shoot the teaser. Rock Gun was converted into a secret radar installation and the stunt team saw their first real action, staging the spectacular Land Rover leap from the cliff tops.

While on location in Gibraltar, the crew got an unexpected photo opportunity. One of the officers stationed on the Rock was a captain in the Royal Artillery. His name? Bond - James Bond. EON weren't going to pass up this unlikely coincidence and put together a photo call which the world's press was eager to attend, capturing shots of the real and the fictitious James Bonds.

Back at Pinewood, shooting was halted for a few hours on 11 December 1986 when the set was visited by the Prince and Princess of Wales, fast becoming unofficial patrons to the Bond series. The next morning, tabloids around the world featured the now famous moment when the Princess of Wales cracked a sugar-glass wine bottle over her husband's head while visiting the props department. Filming soon resumed and on 13 February 1987, filming was completed. Broccoli barely had time to regain his breath before he collected his honorary OBE on 19 February.


Above: Dalton and D'Abo on location in Vienna, unveiled to the world's media a few weeks in to the film's production.

John Barry was to bid farewell to the series with "The Living Daylights" and he repeated the experiment he had tried on "A View To a Kill", asking a pop band to help with the theme tune. This time it was Norwegian trio A-Ha who apparently endured a rocky relationship with Barry, the composer not seeing eye-to-eye with the young upstarts. Barry later described the working relationship as being like "playing ping pong with four balls." The song may not have been as successful as Duran Duran's "A View To a Kill", but it still sold well enough to reach number five in the British charts. Barry himself appeared in the film, if only briefly, as a conductor.

The Prince and Princess of Wales attended the film's premiere on 29 June 1987 at the usual venue, the Odeon Leicester Square in London. MGM/UA had ambitious plans for the film, striking an unprecedented 250 prints for its nationwide release on 10 July. In the States the film opened on the 31 July and didn't do as well as EON or MGM/UA might have hoped - the downward slide in admissions that had marred the progress of the series through the 80s continued, US cinemas admitting just 14.2 million punters, the lowest number since "The Man With the Golden Gun" (1974). Worldwide gross was encouraging, but lower than was expected. The grand overhaul seemed to have failed.