Hard to Talk About: Barbara Broccoli on Everything or Nothing and Skyfall
We often spend hours discussing the ins and outs of James Bond amongst ourselves, so in ten minutes with Barbara Broccoli it was hard to narrow my questions down. The daughter of Albert “Cubby” Broccoli is the current producer of the James Bond movies, and is featured in the new Epix documentary “Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007.” The movie premieres on Epix October 5, “Bond Day,” and plays throughout the month of October on Epix. We asked Broccoli about some of the documentary’s touchier subjects, our own fanboy questions that weren’t addressed, and the upcoming Skyfall.
CraveOnline: The documentary really goes there about the Kevin McClory issues. Is that hard to talk about?
Barbara Broccoli: Boy, does it go there. Is it hard to talk about? Yeah, it’s hard to talk about and in a way it’s even harder to watch because it just brings back so many memories. It’s really like watching your life passing before you. I think they’ve done an amazing job, John Battsek and Simon Chinn, and particularly Stevan Riley the director.
What made you comfortable with the perspective they took on those touchy subjects?
Well, Michael [G. Wilson] and I were approached by John and Simon. They said, “It’s the 50th, we think we should do a documentary. How do you feel about it?” And we really thought long and hard about it because it is dredging up a lot of very painful stuff. But then we thought, “Well, it is the 50th and it would be good to kind of set the record straight.” We said we didn’t want it just to be a fluff piece and that we trusted them to do a job and to keep it honest and talk about things that we’ve been reluctant to talk about in the past.
Timothy Dalton says they started working on a third movie right after Licence to Kill before all the MGM troubles delayed it. What would his third movie have been?
Well, we had started working on a script and then we got into terrible legal situations with MGM and it meant that there wasn’t a film for six years. When we went back to starting again, we talked to Tim about doing the third one. He was ambivalent because a lot of time had passed and we felt that if we were going to re-introduce the series, we needed him to sign up for three additional films. He didn’t really want to do it at that point so we then decided okay, we’ve got to recast the role. He decided he didn’t want to do three more so we went out there looking again. It was a very difficult time because Bond hadn’t been on the screen for six years. The Cold War was over, the Wall had come down, the Berlin Wall, and the whole world was saying, “Who needs James Bond? The world is safe.” So it was a bit of a challenge to come up with a story that turned out to be pretty fantastic. Of course as we all know, the world wasn’t at peace and things became even more complex than before.
If it had followed immediately after Licence to Kill, what script were you developing back then?
We had realized that with Licence to Kill that it had become too violent, too dark. So the storyline was basically about what happened after the fall of the Soviet Union. It was the beginnings of a story that turned out to be Goldeneye.
It’s been attributed to Cubby that he said every 10 minutes there needs to be an action scene. Did Cubby say that?
Not so much an action scene but he would talk about bumps. Every 20 minutes you’ve got to have a bump, you’ve got to have a change in course, you’ve got to unsettle the audience. It can’t be too predictable so something has to happen. I think that was something that Hitchcock did very well too. You couldn’t let an audience feel too settled in. You had to disrupt things and throw them off course to keep them interested.
Did Tarantino ever pitch you his Casino Royale idea?
He didn’t directly, no. We were talking to Harvey Weinstein about something else and he said, “Oh, you know Quentin and I want to do Casino Royale.” Well, we were already planning, because we had just gotten the rights, we hadn’t announced that we’d already gotten the rights to Casino Royale and that we were working on it at the time. But we were, we were developing it then so we never actually [heard the pitch] but obviously admire him greatly. He’s a fantastic director and he’s a huge Bond fan which is nice to know too.
The other fascinating “What if?” is we know Steven Spielberg once asked to do a Bond movie and they turned him down. Looking back, would it have been so bad if Spielberg had done a Bond film?
Oh, well the Steven Spielberg story is a wonderful one because when Steven talked to my father about doing it, it was at the very beginning of his career. [Cubby] said, “Well, you’ve got to get some experience, kid, before you do one of these.” Of course he only became the most successful director in the history of the cinema. I remember my father writing to Spielberg after he had seen Schindler’s List and congratulating him on the extraordinary film he had created. Spielberg wrote back to him and said, “Now will you let me direct a Bond film?” So they had a wonderful friendly banter about it.
With Skyfall, will the gun barrel come at the beginning of the movie?
I’m not going to give that one away! [Laughs]
The last three films keep doing something different with it, so I’m wondering if it will ever go back.
It will always be debated where it should come and with each film I guess we’ll make that decision.
Was it a big decision to sign Daniel Craig for more films, and you’re not ready to move on just yet?
I’m certainly not ready to move on from Daniel Craig. I don’t want to let him go ever.
Is the rumor true that you’d like to have him for eight films so he’d end up doing more Bond films than even Roger Moore?
I’d love him to stay on for as long as he wants to stay on. It will be up to him how long he stays.
Is Skyfall going to be Judi Dench’s last one as M?
Well, we try not to give any details of the storyline of Skyfall away because we don’t want any spoilers. She is an integral part of the story and she’s been an integral part of the series for 17 years. I certainly don’t want her to go away so you’ll have to see. They’re certainly challenged. Her relationship with Bond is certainly challenged in this film and you’ll have to see the film to see in what way I mean.
I didn’t mean that maybe she dies, I just meant that the actor who plays M could change.
She’s extraordinary. I just think she’s the most remarkable actress there is and I think she’s brought so much to this series. I loved working with her. She is an absolute delight. I hope to work with her for many years to come.
What made you confident that Skyfall is the right time to bring Q back into the franchise?
It worked for the story. There’s lots of themes in the story and the re-introduction of Q is a really important element and very much a part of the story of the villain. I’m thrilled that we got Ben Whishaw who I just think is one of the most astounding young actors there are.
Are some of the films like A View to a Kill, Moonraker and The World is Not Enough underrated?
You know, it’s so hard for me to separate my personal feelings and be objective about the films, because particularly the ones that I’ve been really involved in, I think those three films are terrific in their own way. They all have really spectacular elements to them. Over the years, when you see people come up and they tell you, “This is my favorite Bond” and “This is my favorite actor,” everybody has their own opinion. So I’m always pleased and heartened to know that no film and no actor is ever left out of the long list of beloved films over the years. That’s what’s been so rewarding. It’s great to be able to celebrate 50 years of an extraordinary achievement of all the people that have been part of the collaboration of the making of these films. It’s a great way to celebrate them and obviously my father who was central to it from the very beginning.
And those are the things Bond fans debate endlessly.
I know, it’s part of the fun.