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Who Will Be The Next James Bond? Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 August 2004
The buzz in Hollywood this summer is who will be the next James Bond? Pierce Brosnan has reportedly announced that he’s dropping out of the role, partly because of dissatisfaction with the last couple of 007 outings. And who could blame him? Eon Productions, the company that owns the rights, has shown very little inclination since Brosnan’s first two Bond movies to re-imagine the British secret agent for contemporary audiences. On the other hand, the box office grosses remain high; it’s probably a matter of the if-it-ain’t-broke syndrome. But this means also that Eon runs the risk of not bringing in younger audiences for a franchise that has been strong since the mid-1960’s. There are strong rumors that Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings) will take over the role as a younger and hipper 007 - but that’s not the way to view the question. It is not Bond who needs to be made younger and hipper - aging only made Sean Connery more appealing, if anything - it’s the movies themselves, particularly the villains that need an update.

The Bond movies are created in a manner like no other films; first, some of the stunts are envisioned; then locations are scouted in exotic areas of the world; then the crew is hired—and then the script is written. One reason the company has had trouble attracting inventive directors is that there are so many restrictions on the films, so many elements that Eon regards as absolutely essential, that directors find very little room to be creative. This is why some critics suggest that many of the 007 thrillers look like they’re all directed by the same person.

Does being James Bond help or harm a career? Sean Connery shrewdly marketed it for all he could get out of it, having in his contract a clause forcing Eon to allow him to make at least one non-Bond movie for every 007 film he appeared in. Roger Moore doesn’t seem to have been affected one way or the other. George Lazenby inadvisably publicly trashed the role of James Bond, so he wasn’t invited back. Timothy Dalton essentially vanished after his Bond outings. And it’s obviously too early to judge Brosnan’s post-Bond career.

So who should step into the role? Among those who media journalists have treated as if they’re about to don the Bond tuxedo are Hugh Jackman, Eric Bana, Clive Owen, Ewan McGregor, or Orlando Bloom. It would probably be a good career decision for Bana or Owen to take on the role; it would do little for Jackman, whose career seems to be on firm footing already. He already has a series character, Wolverine in the X-Men movies, and probably shouldn’t take on another. To my tastes, McGregor and Bloom are not the right type to play Bond. But Eon is not calling on me to pick the next Bond. Wait – is that my cell phone ringing?

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