Colin Salmon as MI6 boss Charles Robinson in Die Another Day
If M can be a woman, why can't James Bond be black? Pierce Brosnan is recommending it, suggesting during promotions for the UK release of the film Love is All You Need, that when (and if) Daniel Craig should choose to put down the Walther PPK, actor Colin Salmon should get a shot.
Though Craig has signed on for “at least two more films” according to Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, Brosnan feels it is “absolutely essential” that Salmon play the first black James Bond, and join him in a very exclusive and beneficial club.
Colin Salmon, backed by Pierce Brosnan to play the first black James Bond. Photo: AP
“He's somebody I have worked with closely over the years. He would be outstanding," Brosnan said of the man who at one stage was the bookies' favourite to take the role in the rebooted Casino Royale.
The four-time Bond also said there was no rush to replace Craig, who is "doing superbly well", but that he just wants to share the privilege.
“That job is the gift that keeps giving because once you're a Bond, you're a Bond for life.”
Broccoli is clearly open to change in the Bond franchise, having rebooted the franchise to make the character more real, removing Brosnan in the process.
“We were making Die Another Day when 9/11 happened,” Broccoli told Fairfax Media. “Although Die Another Day was incredibly successful, and Pierce was incredibly successful as Bond, we felt that we had taken the fantasy too far.
“Now more than ever we want our heroes to be real, we want them to have a conscience, we want them to think of the repercussions. We don't want cardboard heroes any more, or cartoon heroes.”
Broccoli was also the producer who OK'd the transition to a female M. “I got the credit and it wasn't me! It was Bruce Feirstein, who was the writer. He came up with the idea," she says.
“My immediate reaction was yes, if it's not a gimmick, having some cigar-chomping woman puffing around,” she says. “But if you actually create a real character, and you have a real woman, and you make a lot of use of the fact that she's a woman and you bring a lot of complexity to it.”
“Then it was all very much about the casting so it wasn't until we knew Judi [Dench] was interested that we were willing to make that commitment.”
Then they killed her.
“Judi was absolutely the perfect person,” Broccoli laments. “She brought so many layers of complexity and emotion to the whole thing and she's done an amazing job. Seventeen years of working with her, it was a very, very difficult decision.
“But we sat down and we said what can we do to Bond emotionally? What journey can we take him on? He's lost Vesper [Vesper Lynd, Bond's one true love, from Casino Royale]. What is the other most important thing in the world? [M] represents everything to him; she was mother, she was family, she was his whole world - and security and safety and everything. So, it seemed like the right thing to do, although it's a very painful decision.”
Broccoli is clearly a fan of Salmon's work as an actor, though that may prove a handicap. He has already had a major role in three Bond films, with Brosnan, as MI6 boss Charles Robinson.
Still, if six actors can play Bond, surely one can double up? Besides, there is a precedent for someone on the set getting a role thrust upon them, even if it was a slightly smaller one. It happened on the recent Bond film, Skyfall.
Special effects guru Chris Corbould has worked on 13 Bond films, and won an Oscar for, among other things, blowing up the hospital in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. His team do the real-life work, called practical effects, that the computer graphics are then added to.
On Skyfall, his team was pretty busy. “We mounted the digger on the back of the train that crunched its bucket into the carriage in front and knocked all the BMWs off; we converted the motorbikes to look like indigenous bikes of Turkey; we rigged the underground train to crash through the ceiling and obviously we blew up the Skyfall manor,” he says.
He also appeared in the film.
The train that crashed above Bond in the film was notably empty, which seemed incongruous as the station Bond had just left had been packed. “There was discussion [about passengers] actually, a lot of discussion,” Corbould admits. “At one stage there was going to be people on there who all got up as soon as it crashed and Bond checked them out and they were all right. In the end it was decided to cut it short and just have it empty, " he says.
“They actually digitally put me in as the driver. You can only see me for about a quarter of a second if you slow-mo it, but I am there.”
Corbould believes it's his first time on screen in the Bond films. “I think it is actually. I never got my equity ticket out of it though.”
He also gave a hint as to where we might see a major Bond action sequence in the near future.
“Well, it's funny, I had some spare time in Sydney walking around looking at all the possible opportunities here. I don't know how much you value the Harbour Bridge but I could think of a few things to do with that.”
Skyfall is available on Blu-ray and DVD.