Pierce Brosnan is James Bond

As the 60th Anniversary cinema re-release of the 007 films reaches The World Is Not Enough (1999), Pierce Brosnan’s third adventure as Ian Fleming’s secret agent, and Garbage is also lined up as one of the performers for the upcoming special Bond music cleberation at the Royal Albert Hall, the JBIFC takes the opportunity to look back briefly on the movie, with (00)7 facts, some known, others less well-known.

As many Bond fans know, the movie, directed by the late Michael Apted (1941-2021), was Pierce Brosnan’s eve-of-the-millenium movie, and made use of a number of themes and constructions associated with 1999, including a reference by ‘Q’ to the so-called Millenium Bug and the use of (what was then called) the Millenium Dome in London’s east end Docklands area.

Here’s some Bond facts to help celebrate the movie, which was another big hit at the global Box Office on the eve of the new century.

007 and Counting…

001: The title of the movie, of course, was taken directly from the Ian Fleming novels, as the author had taken the words and made them into the Bond Family’s motto. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (OHMSS), James Bond visits the College of Arms and learns that Sir Thomas Bond’s actual family crest had the motto ‘The World Is Not Enough’. This very Fleming-esque title seemed a great choice for the 19th EON James Bond movie.

002: The core idea for the plot of the new movie came from Barbara Broccoli. She was flying to Miami not long after the opening of Tomorrow Never Dies and, as part of the inflight entertainment, was watching an edition of Ted Koppel’s Nightline broadcast in November, 1997. The programme was devoted to the Caspian Sea and included discussion of the area as a key region for oil in the next century. Oil would be the driver of a new wave of economic development. Broccoli began to wonder what would happen if a villain tried to assert complete control of the ‘black gold’ and place pressure on the West? When she later mentioned the idea to her co-producer Michael G. Wilson, who immediately saw the potential of the topic for a Bond movie plot.

003: On the recommendation of Simon Mathew, a development executive to the Bond producers, the British screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were recruited and set to work on the new movie. The relatively unknown pair were seen as highly talented and upcoming writers, having scored a big critical success with Let Him have It (1991). They created the cold, unfeeling villain Renard (French for ‘Fox’) (played by Robert Carlyle), who would be slowly dying from a bullet lodged in his skull. Purvis was also keen to have a female villain alongside Renard for The World Is Not Enough (TWINE): hence, Elektra King (played by Sophie Marceau) was created. Interestingly, the screenwriting pair later revealed that they drew some of their inspiration for the strong characteristics embodied in Elektra from Diana Rigg’s performance in OHMSS. The two writers were also determined to have more emphasis on interplay between key characters, something that Pierce Brosnan was enthusiastic about and Apted fully supported.

004: Principal photography on the new Bond movie commenced on 11th January, 1999, at Pinewood Studios. This involved an internal explosion at MI6 HQ. Apart from work at Pinewood, key locations for the new Bond movie included France, Spain, Scotland and Turkey. While Michael Apted mainly concentrated on working with the First Unit, the movie’s Second Unit spent a long period of time utilizing the famous River Thames in London, including the Embankment area just outside the real-life MI6 HQ at Vauxhall Bridge, where a Q-Boat (with a dummy Bond) was catapaulted from the shore just outside the Secret Service HQ and into the river. A number of the key bridges across the Thames (including outside Parliament), were also used, together with the main River area outside the Millenium Dome in East London. Action sequences were also shot on the various waterways of the East End’s Docklands, many of them with the ‘Q-Boat’.

005: Although nobody knew this at the time, this was to be the last Bond movie for the very popular Demond ‘Q’ Llewelyn, which makes a key scene in TWINE involving the longtime gadgets master and 007 even more poignant, as he tells Bond he is planning for his retirement. Llewelyn had been in 17 of the Bond movies, but now recognised that, as he was now in his eighties, perhaps a ‘handover’ scenario was needed. John Cleese was chosen as his assistant ‘R’ and, apparently, was given the option of appearing in three more Bond movies if he had wished. He became ‘Q’, of course, for Brosnan’s fourth Bond adventure and there is every likelihood he would have remained in the role had Brosnan carried on for a fifth film. Tragically, a few weeks after TWINE opened, Desmond was involved in a fatal car crash.

006: After high praise for his work on the score for Tomorrow Never Dies, composer David Arnold returned for TWINE and – this time – was also given greater control over the choice for the main theme tune. Working with veteran lyricist Don Black, the two men had written the song even before the main filming on the movie commenced. Arnold also made the bold choice to enlist singer Shirley Manson and her rock band Garbage for the main theme. It was an excellent choice. Arnold later explained that the title song was written very much from Elektra’s perspective, mainly to capture her duplicitous nature.

007: Compared to all the difficulties and location pressures that cast and crew had experienced on Tomorrow Never Dies, TWINE was evidently more relaxed and satisfying to make. Pierce Brosnan clearly enjoyed himself more on the movie than on his previous outing. He commented in one interview: ‘It’s fun and I’m more relaxed’. At one stage, Brosnan had been allowed to pilot the Q-Boat along the River Thames, and spent many a happy moment practicing with the new craft up and down London’s key waterway, often waving at onlookers. At another stage during filming, Brosnan said: ‘It’s a bit like coming back to family. Doing this the third time around is comfortable. I actually looked forward to doing it’. He also relished some of the acting challenges built into the script, which brought out some of the complex, darker and morally ambiguous sides to Bond’s character.

Did You Know?

The real-life MI6 at first refused to give permission to EON for TWINE to film on the riverside area directly outside its Vauxhall Bridge HQ. Permission was also needed from the Port of London authority to film on the Thames just outside the House of Commons. Bond co-producer Michael G. Wilson made a direct appeal to the British Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and permission was secured for both sites. The late Robin Cook, who was Foreign Secretary at the time, remarked in a press release explaining the decision: ‘After all Bond has done for Britain, it was the least that Britain could do for Bond’.

Brosnan in action in London’s Docklands