Bond producer Barbara Broccoli has given a wide-ranging interview to the London ‘Evening Standard’ newspaper, in which she gave her thoughts on ‘Skyfall’, the world of 007, and on the movie industry in general.
The lengthy interview, which was published in the Thursday August 16 issue of the capital’s free evening paper, took place at the Gielgud Theatre in London, which has been temporarily turned into a racetrack for the 1924 Olympics, as part of the new stage version of ‘Chariots of Fire’ (which is co-produced by Broccoli).
The interview started out with Barbara reflecting on the surprise people felt when Queen Elizabeth II made her Bond debut in the short film made by Danny Boyle for the recent Olympics 2012 opening ceremony. ‘We saw the back of the Queen and everyone I’m sure thought, ‘It’s Helen Mirren’. And when she turned around it was like a volcanic eruption. How wonderful of her to have done it’.
The daughter of legendary Bond producer ‘Cubby’ Broccoli revealed that she grew up in a household where James Bond was talked about so much she thought he was a real person until she was about seven. Her first memory was watching the filming of the Japanese Tea Ceremony in ‘You Only Live Twice’.
Turning to ‘Skyfall’, Barbara Broccoli said that the film has a lot to say about contemporary evil. ‘It’s extraordinary Ian Fleming wrote the books 60 years ago. It feels like we’re in the right groove now for what he had to say about how villainy is coming from individuals – not just political states, but individuals who are wielding all sorts of treacherous plans on earth’.
On the choice of Sam Mendes as director of the new Bond movie, she said: ‘When Daniel suggested him, we were unbelievably thrilled that he would be interested because he is such a fine director’.
When the interview turned again to the theme of villainy, Barbara told the ‘Standard’ that Spanish actor Javier Bardem (who plays the main baddie Raoul Silva in the movie) ‘is really extraordinary in this film and the blonde wig he wears is part of his story. He spends a lot of time creating a character, and it’s something he devised with Sam. It’s very much his mystique – it gives an unnatural element. Javier is a true chameleon. You imagine an actor that would be very intense all the time, but off duty he’s a delight. Getting up in the morning to go to work to spend the day with Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem is pretty fun’.
Offering some thoughts on her role in originally casting Daniel Craig as Bond and on his interpretation of 007, Broccoli said: ‘One of the things about Daniel is he’s let us into Bond’s inner life, we see and feel him from a much more intimate place. In the books you get a look into his inner conflicts and fears and anxieties, but it’s very hard to put that on screen without making him look neurotic as a leading man. A lot of the books focus on accidie – this revulsion he had for his profession; it’s not easy killing people. He fell completely in love with Vesper and she betrayed him, so he realises, from that point, he can never be susceptible to a relationship again’.
She added that this loneliness fuels Bond’s hedonism: ‘He has this voracious appetite for life; he’s going to drink and eat and have sex because he doesn’t know in the next moment if he’s going to be killed. The black humour is his way of dealing with death, he laughs in its face’.
Interestingly, on the relationship between Bond and his boss M, Broccoli confirmed that we finally get M’s back-story in ‘Skyfall’. She commented: ‘M has always been the one authority figure in Bond’s life. She is the only person he can really trust. I think this story, which I’m not going to tell you very much about, is the heart of the movie. She represents many things to him and it’s wonderful territory to explore. And obviously Sam had directed Judi and Daniel before, so he was excited about working it through emotionally’.
The interview also explored Barbara Broccoli’s thoughts on the Bond women, the movie industry generally, and her role co-producing the original 1981 film of ‘Chariots of Fire’. She also described her thrill at hearing the music of Vangelis again when it was played at the 2012 Olympics.
The new stage version of ‘Chariots of Fire’ is currently at the Gielgud Theate in London, and has received high praise from the critics.