No. This one is NOT satire. I am playing this one deadly straight. Pierce’s tenure could have been tweaked a tad. Almost was, too!
Bond movies go through many iterations in the drafting. Sometimes a character is renamed. Other times, a tone is lost or motif gained. Occasionally, the whole thing is gutted and setback however many months or years is needed.
In the case of the Brosnan era? It is fair to say a consensus exists that deems him a great Bond but compromised in tone and definition by scripts that had to play all sides of audience.
Pierce knew this at the time and though he stayed diplomatic (with the exception of the ‘creative paralysis’ remark which I think did him no favours, if indeed he did say that at all?), he did occasionally make suggestions.
‘You have this template, this character, formula. You know the audience can come back and so you could in theory have a differing tone and genre each time‘. (minor paraphrase there; Pierce will not sue..coz he won’t READ this!).
But anyway: YES! Perfect point, Brozza! Had tone been distinct for each film? You’d have had 4 knock it out of the parks instead of 2 great, 1 curate’s egg and Die Another Day (which, incidentally is watchable and the kitesurfing is far less offensive than the dialogue and missed opps).
His Bond movies co-existed with the Internet yet predate social media and instant messaging. So we know some rumours from the time; some cobbled together stuff from Pierce’s quotes; some actual source based leaks and mostly, my own speculation weaving it all into one piece.
Here we go: alternative Brosnan Bonds that never were.
- The World is not Enough
Sharon Stone was almost Elektra, playing a vengeful ex stalking Bond across the world with a series of bombs placed in strategic oil fields. Think Fatal Attraction on a global scale via Pink Panther meets Russia with Love. The plot was also pitched as a possible Mission: Impossible prequel.
Bond vs Son was mooted. With a then rising Ewan McGregor as a James Bond, junior. The kid has turned eeeevilll..so Bond must save him and foil whichever plot has caught them all up.
Now this is the part I REALLY like..
One pitch that was close to completion? A massive oil find is discovered close to British territory but not in Her Majesty’s jurisdiction. The clock is ticking until claimed. So HMG teams with Elektra and her company, in exchange for protection by 007 to oversee the deal safely.
Bond and Elektra go on the run from both the competing world powers eager to score the oil and the terror group hired to do the dirty work. A chase ensues, across Europe.
Once the Brits have the oil? Bond proposes to Elektra and they are set to celebrate at the Millennium Dome for the New Year’s Eve party. Except there was one more terror threat to quell. Bond manages to do so, on a tip from last minute defector Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane, back again).
There is a fight atop the Dome with Renard (always Robert Carlyle; with a pet hawk?). Bond saves the day, diffuses a bomb and walks off with Elektra. Over breakfast though..she drops a tell tale sign..Renard was HER henchman..and her actual surname..BLOFELD..as credits roll on a cliff-hanger ‘WILL JAMES BOND RETURN?’..
- Die Another Day:
There was supposed to be chase through the CITY STREETS of North Korea. During a MILITARY PARADE of the missiles etc, which Bond was meant to be photographing.
Rhoda Masters helps Bond escape via UK embassy in South Korea, with Wai Lin backing them, via a kung fu ballet gun fight in a Hotel lift.
Bond is still framed, but Graves (almost Hugh Grant/Trevor Eve/Nigel Havers/Jeremy Irons/Sam Neill/Colin Firth?) was a spin doctor who took a dislike to Bond at a personal level, verging on obsessional jealousy.
Graves still wants a war in North Korea, but on different grounds to the film we got. Here, Bond is all set to expose the limits of that nation’s capabilities (they are still baddies though, to be monitored and do not want to be exposed..so they too want 007 dead).
Bond’s flat is raided. His way back to 00 status is a massive thing: infiltrating the London underworld to help (very Guy Ritchie). Seduces a Ballerina (Darcey Bussell) en route and beats up a Serb gangster.
Iceland is still there but no kitesurfing, no ice palace and the car is simply invisible because it blends into the DARK. Gala Brand was the main girl and not a traitor, though like the book, dumps Bond, bathetically, over tea at the Shelbourne in Dublin as credits roll, with Bond picking up his next mission.
Yes, Bill Clinton was set to cameo. But not as the President.
(no, he NEVER was set to team up with the IRA though a plot was mooted where a visiting US President is kidnapped in Dublin, by Kevin Spacey..).
Beyond the Ice was almost a title.
- Brosnan’s Fifth
Contrary to belief? He almost WAS offered Casino Royale. The rise of Jason Bourne, 9/11 and Iraq fallout, complex contractual machinations and a problem with tone ended the party.
Pierce had ideas. ‘On HIS Majesty’s Secret Service: Blofeld clones Tracey? Bond leaves the service, tired of the killing, driving away in his Aston at the end?‘. Hang on..some of that sounds kinda familiar?! Blimey, Brozza..join the Bond writing staff!
There was a treatment for a Bollywood Bond. Returning to India like in Octopussy. The disputed Kashmiri territory in play (once again, Mission: Impossible goes there years later).
But most interestingly? An idea to have BOTH a young, new Bond (Henry Cavill) AND Pierce. Part prequel, a la Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Giving Pierce a send off whilst opening way to his further involvement; part prequel/reboot (also mooted now as the way in with Harrison Ford for Indy 5!).
We start in the 1980s. Young, newly minted Bond beats LeChiffre (Liam Neeson? Alfred Molina?). Vesper seemingly dies. Yet both the girl (Charlotte Rampling?) and villain resurface, 20 years later. Bond must return to the tables and foil a bigger plot in the process. Spy Game meets GoldenEye via Fleming and Indiana Morse.
Oh-oh-what might have been! But we will always have GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and bits of good 007 in The World is not Enough /Die Another Day.
And we get a whole new era in Daniel Craig. Pierce also did not do too badly, getting to finally stretch himself post Bond, as actor every bit as much as Matinée idol movie star.
The franchise thrives in its capacity for change and consistency. So nobody is complaining. The motifs can recur in some future Bond films. Always facing forward.
My sources? I could tell you. But I would have to KISS you 🙂
‘I’m checking out. Thanks for the kiss of life‘.
JAMES MURPHY WILL RETURN.