Bond Series: Search for the New and “Right” 007 to Play James Bind for a Decade

The Next 007 Actor is Expected to Commit for a Whole Decade

Everett Collection
Playing James Bond may be the biggest acting gig in Hollywood.
Britain’s most famous producers in late August, they’re busy preparing for the 60th anniversary of Bond in October.
But the search for a new actor to play the world’s most famous spy is quietly rumbling on in the background. It’s still “early days,” they claim, but whomever lands the role has to be in it for the long haul.

The half siblings — whose mother Dana Natol was married to Broccoli’s father, Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, Bond’s co-founding producer — have served as the caretakers of Bond since “GoldenEye” (1995), which starred Pierce Brosnan.

They worked with the actor for another 3 movies: “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997), “The World Is Not Enough” (1999) and “Die Another Day” (2002) — before hiring Daniel Craig for “Casino Royale” (2006).

The duo formed strong bond with Craig, and together evolved the character over the course of four more films, including “Quantum of Solace” (2008), “Skyfall” (2012), “Spectre” (2015) and last year’s pandemic-delayed “No Time to Die,” before Craig bowed out as 007.

Most young actors, say Broccoli and Wilson, think they want to do Bond, but don’t fully fathom the commitment of carrying a franchise across many years.

“That’s why, when people go, ‘Oh, who are you going to get?’ it’s not just about casting an actor for a film. It’s about a reinvention, and ‘Where are we taking it? What do we want to do with the character?’” says Broccoli. “And then, once we figure that out, who’s the right person for that particular reinvention?

There have been only six Bond actors to date since the first movie, “Dr. No,” in 1962: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Brosnan and Craig.

Both Wilson and Broccoli have left their mark on Bond, in humanizing the once-womanizing spy and ensuring more fulfilling roles for the female stars of the franchise.

“It’s an evolution. Bond is evolving just as men are evolving. I don’t know who’s evolving at faster pace.”

Craig, she adds, “cracked Bond open emotionally,” bringing audiences into the character’s inner life. “The films during his tenure were the first time we really connected the emotional arc.”

Another first for the producers has been boarding a TV show based on Bond. Amazon’s Prime Video greenlit its first TV series based on the iconic British spy with adventure reality show 007’s Road to a Million, a Bond-style spin on race around the world.

But “007’s Road to a Million” was the first time a producer — Britain’s 72 Films (“The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty”) — approached the pair with idea that seemed both “fun” and safe. “It wasn’t going to be dangerous to the participants is the key thing,” notes Wilson.

Broccoli and Wilson are producing the eight-part series alongside 72 Films and MGM. The show is now in production.

“Audiences will get a big kick out of it, and that’s why we agreed to do it,” she says.

But the greatest shock around the Amazon takeover was the sudden departures of MGM film bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy in April.

Broccoli is “eager to find out” who will be replacing the studio heads at MGM, which has yet to name a successor. Meanwhile, the producers are working with Alana Mayo of MGM’s division Orion Pictures on the movie “Till,” about Emmett Till, an African American boy murdered in Mississippi hate crime in 1955.

The break from Bond has given the producers time and space to focus on “Till” and other projects. Alongside “Till’s” October release, Broccoli has a musical of “Sing Street” being staged in Boston.

“We have skill shortage, and we have diversity issue,” she says. “I kept saying, ‘Let’s put them together.’ Let’s train people from diverse backgrounds for jobs that are needed. There are lots of people who are super talented but have not necessarily felt that the film industry was for them.”

“I’m gonna die with my boots on,” she says. “My joy is my family and my work. I don’t see it as a hardship. Every day, you’re up against new challenges, and it’s fun and it keeps you young.”

On September 21, Broccoli and Wilson will receive two Hollywood honors. In the morning, they will leave their hand and footprints at a ceremony in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre. Later that day, at the Beverly Hilton, they are the recipients of the Pioneer Award from the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, which honors industry leaders with outstanding philanthropic endeavors.

“Those who work in distribution and exhibition] are in many ways unsung heroes because it’s been very challenging times,” says Broccoli. “Movie houses are the places people go to dream, and we have to fight to keep them going.”