The Sky TV network has been making a new drive to publicise the upcoming biopic ‘Fleming’, which stars Dominic Cooper as the creator of James Bond and Lara Pulver as Fleming’s wife Ann, and is now due in early 2014.
The new 4-part biopic, which concentrates mainly on Ian Fleming’s early years and his role as a Naval Intelligence officer in World War Two, is being portrayed in the latest publicity as a TV drama with a ‘Hollywood treatment’.
The BBC’s Radio Times TV listings magazine recently contained a special glossy ‘Sky Original Drama’ insert, with brief interviews with Dominic Cooper, Lara Pulver and – interestingly – some comments on the Bond author’s life from early Fleming biographer John Pearson, who originally worked with Fleming at the Sunday Times newspaper, and later penned The Life of Ian Fleming.
In his interview, when asked about his own looks compared to Fleming, Dominic Cooper admitted that: ‘It’s true. I don’t look anything like Ian, but I don’t think many people know what he looked like. I was always in his Admiralty outfit with a cigarette and martini in hand, and that’s what makes you feel like Fleming’.
When asked whether the role was challenging to play, Cooper responded: ‘It was actually incredible fun, it always is with someone like Ian, because they’re living life to the extreme and don’t have the same boundaries as we do’. Cooper continued: ‘He lived quite a packed existence yet he was a very sad and lonely man, who created one of the most successful franchises ever but didn’t really get to see that success. There are very few people who have lived that kind of life’.
Reflecting on the responsibility of portraying Fleming accurately, Cooper pointed out that very few people know about Ian Fleming ‘so that gave us a lot of liberty’. He said both himself and the director (Mat Whitecross) ‘were careful not to make something very detailed. We were out to make a fun and exciting piece of drama and something that we thought would reflect how Fleming himself would like to be seen. We also wanted to capture this troubled life – the tale of a young man finding his position in the world’.
Inevitably perhaps, Cooper was also asked whether, having now played Fleming, he would fancy a shot at playing James Bond: ‘Always. You can’t ever not want a shot at playing Bond’.
John Pearson, in a rare interview, said he believed that Cooper more than rises to the challenge of portraying Fleming, who was psychologically complex. Pearson said that Cooper has produced a performance that Fleming would be proud of: ‘It’s very much how Ian would have seen himself. Ian was a very cool man and Dominic is a very cool hero’. Pearson added: ‘Ian tends to be sidelined by the cult of Bond, so I hope this series achieves an intelligent attitude towards his own considerable achievement. What he did was staggering. They were saying a while ago that a quarter of the world’s population have seen a James Bond film. It seems as though Bond will go on for ever’.
Licenced to Thrill
Dominic Cooper also faced similar questions in an interview he gave to the UK newspaper The Independent (October 14). As the paper pointed out, Cooper’s career is on a high. In addition to Fleming, he has recently completed work on a new vampire movie, Dracula Untold, and may be up for the role of Freddie Mercury in a new biopic of the famous singer.
Reflecting in the interview on his role as Ian Fleming, Cooper at one point said that the Bond author was ‘a very different guy’ to James Bond: ‘But he did see himself as Bond, and that’s our take on it. It’s how he would have liked to have seen himself. But he definitely doesn’t have the strength of character. That’s why he ended up writing the books, about the man he thought he was. He tried to be him, but he failed. He could never kill a man, so he had to back out of that’.
Quizzed by The Independent on whether he would ever consider playing the role of Bond post-Craig, Cooper said: ‘I don’t think you could not want to do Bond, but whether that dramatically pigeon-holes you, who knows? I think people do escape it – Pierce Brosnan has. And Daniel Craig has managed to’.
Cooper, who trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, first found fame at the National Theatre in London when he played the role of Dakin in Alan Bennett’s smash-hit play The History Boys. His next big project is a starring role in Need for Speed, a big-screen drama about cross-country car racing, based on the popular video game of the same name.
Fleming, which is written by John Brownlow and Don Macpherson, is directed by Mat Whitecross and Executive Produced by Douglas Rae, founder of Ecosse Films. It will be shown on Sky Atlantic.