For Bond fans who were monitoring the week by week rumours and drama that occupied the long gap between “Die Another Day” (2002) and its eventual successor “Casino Royale” (2006) four years later, a common thread that wove itself through the drawn out pre-production of Daniel Craig’s debut was Quentin Tarantino and his quest to direct a Bond movie. It was easily written off as hot air and tabloid fodder by many at the time, but the film’s director Martin Campbell has now confirmed that Tarantino was in play, and even bid on the film rights.
Campbell explained the backstory to the 21st Bond film to the Daily Express newspaper, “Casino Royale was not going to be the next film. They were developing another [original] script but then, after a long battle, the Broccoli’s suddenly got the film rights to the first Bond novel Casino Royale, despite Quentin Tarantino bidding against them.”
Tarantino went public in 2004 stating a desire to make “Casino Royale” a period piece, set in the 1960’s, with Pierce Brosnan in the lead role. After being shot down as a directorial prospect by EON Productions, it is now revealed that Tarantino tried to secure the rights to the book himself. Ian Fleming’s first novel was not included in the original deal struck by EON Productions founders Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. This omission lead to the 1967 spoof film starring David Niven.
Campbell continued, “The script being developed was an original story in which James Bond isn’t the character we know today but someone younger and more screwed up. Pierce Brosnan was getting on for 49 or something, and clearly too old to play the younger Bond so they decided to go in a different direction.”
Above: Director Quentin Tarantino is now considering a rival spy franchise.
As for Tarantino, he is still upset at losing out on the chance to put his stamp on the Bond franchise, saying: “It would have been my James Bond film and not a Cubby Broccoli Bond film and I would have done it with Pierce Brosnan.” He continues to claim that, if it were not for him making the suggestion, “Casino Royale” would not have been filmed as the 21st adventure.
After introducing two new actors to the role of James Bond, Campbell says he is not considering a return for a third film as director, despite being offered the job. “It is always the same story about Bond stopping a nutcase taking over the world and you can only blow up a control room so many times,” he said. But despite his simplified view of the repeated formula, he thinks there are many more years in the spy yet. “These movies are hugely entertaining, full of action, humour, international locations and beautiful people while the character of James Bond is so sexy and stylish that everyone wants to be him. That is why the Bond movies have lasted and it is why they will continue to thrive.”
Quentin Tarantino - 007 Timeline
April 2004 - Goes public with Casino Royale desires
“I don’t see that they have anything to lose at all,” Tarantino said in an interview. “They’ve got this gigantic franchise, they can’t do anything wrong with it. Pierce Brosnan’s only going to do one more movie for them, if that, so if he stayed on to do one more with me, let’s just this one year go my way and do it a little differently. I won’t do anything that will ruin the series.” Tarantino felt there was only “a thin chance” that he would win the project, and said he would concede to update the 1952 novel for the present day. “If I owned the material, I would set it in the ’60s, but I’m sure I’d have to do it now.”
May 2004 - Offers the role to Pierce Brosnan
Quentin Tarantino continued to talk about Bond in Cannes where he is president of the film festival jury. “I’ve always wanted to do it. I bumped into Pierce Brosnan and we talked about it. He liked the idea,” said Tarantino. With Brosnan giving Tarantino his support earlier this month for his idea of Bond on a smaller scale, Tarantino is left only to convince the producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. “I don’t know if they’re going to go for it or not, but I’m letting them know I’m interested. I would like to do the original book ‘Casino Royale’ and do it more or less the way the Ian Fleming book is”.
May 2004 - Bond girl
Uma Thurman would play Vesper Lynd if Tarantino directs his vision for Casino Royale
May 2004 - Pierce Brosnan confirms
Brosnan told reporters, “Quentin and I met and he is a huge Bond fan. He wants to remake Casino Royale. I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen. What Tarantino would bring to the film is life, and just a great sense of excitement and danger, and the perspective of a film-maker who has really made people sit up and watch his movies. He’s got a cutting edge, which we got with the last Bond film, Die Another Day - with Lee Tamahori’s sense of flair. Someone like Quentin would be magnificent.”
August 2004 - Takes his campaign to television
Tarantino appeared on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and talked extensively about his desire to direct a James Bond film. He appeared very excited about the idea of directing a film based on “Casino Royale”. He was quick to mention that he was the one that fueled a lot of the “directing rumors”, but he said it’s really up to the fans, and they should voice that they want him.
October 2004 - Pierce Brosnan officially confirms he will not play James Bond for a fifth film.
November 2004 - Brosnan reveals Producers turned Tarantino idea down
Pierce Brosnan told the New York Times what happened to the Quentin Tarantino “Casino Royale” idea. “I went to them and asked about making “Casino Royale,” which is the first Ian Fleming book. I had hooked up with Quentin Tarantino, who wanted to direct the movie. On the fifth apple martini one evening, he mentioned “Casino Royale,” which is the blueprint for the psyche of Bond, and I took that idea to the Broccoli family, who produce the Bond movies. They have a way of doing the films, and they are not open to discussion — they threw my idea out the window. They said they wanted to go in a new direction. But they’ve probably done me a great favor. I can now concentrate on other roles.”
February 2005 - EON Production confirms the 21st James Bond film will be “Casino Royale”.
March 2005 - Tarantino says idea is killed
Speaking at the Empire awards in London Tarantino said: “I would have liked to do Casino Royale with Pierce Brosnan. But once I heard Brosnan isn’t going to be doing any more Bond films, that killed it as far as I was concerned. Over the course of time he’s really proven himself to me as the James Bond for this generation.”
October 2005 - Brosnan confused about losing 007
Whilst promoting “The Matador”, Brosnan told reporters that he was still clueless about why he lost the gig. “They said I wanted too much money, which is nonsense.” A more likely explanation is his attempt to give the movies an edge. “I really wanted Quentin Tarantino to direct the next one, and Quentin wanted to do it. I think that scared the producers.”
October 2005 - Daniel Craig is confirmed as the sixth actor to play 007/
November 2006 - Casino Royale opens in theatres around the world to box-office records.
September 2007 - Tarantino criticizes Bond producers
Quentin Tarantino again criticized the makers of Casino Royale for going ahead with the movie without his input. In an interview with Total Film, Tarantino said he was so upset that he hasn’t even watched the movie. “I never saw Casino Royale because I was so mad at those guys.They should have talked to me about it. They said publicly that Casino Royale was unfilmable, but the minute I said I would do Casino Royale, it’s on all the websites and it is the film that people want to see. They should have said thank you.”
July 2009 - Tarantino repeats protest
“The reason they did Casino Royale all comes down to me,” Quentin told reporters again. :I made it a point, I said I wanted to do Casino Royale. They were already on record as saying the movie was unfilmable but then after I said it and talked about it for a little bit — then the big thing on all the internets was that that was what all the fans wanted to see and so that’s when they said, ‘Oh, maybe it’s not so un-filmable. Actually if I had done the film, I wouldn’t have done it with Daniel Craig, I would have done it with Pierce Brosnan.”
August 2009 - Tarantino plans rival spy franchise
The American director is planning to adapt three spy thriller novels by British writer Len Deighton into a movie series which will attract fans of the British secret agent’s on screen adventures. Tarantino explained: “One of the things I enjoy musing about doing is the trilogy of Len Deighton books, ‘Berlin Game’, ‘Mexico Set’, and ‘London Match’. The story takes place in the Cold War and follows a spy named Bernard Sampson. What is attractive is the really great characters and the wonderful casting. I am a huge fan of Simon Pegg. I also think Kate Winslet is the best actresses that ever lived, so I would be honoured to work with her. I am also a huge admirer of Anthony Hopkins. I would also love to work with Michael Caine. I can see them appearing in my movies.”