Two new rumours have appeared to stir the already overflowing pot of Bond 21 intrigue. A mysterious “insider” — who provided reliable information on Die Another Day during its production — has posted on the message boards of Absolutely James Bond that James Bond #6 could be James Purefoy. A relative unknown, Purefoy starred as the Black Prince of Wales in 2001’s A Knight’s Tale (on the DVD commentary, writer/director Brian Helgeland
mentions what an excellent 007 Purefoy would make) and can be seen in the upcoming Vanity Fair starring Reese Witherspoon.
Also, the reliable movie news site Dark Horizons has reported that Vic Armstrong is a rumoured candidate for the director’s chair. Armstrong is best known as the stunt coordinator on many big-budget films (including the Indiana Jones Series) and as second unit director on three of the four Brosnan era Bond films. If Armstrong were named the Bond 21 director, it would be in keeping with Eon’s past “promote from within” policy. (John Glen worked as an editor on many Bonds before being promoted to director on 1981’s For Your Eyes Only.)
But Armstrong and Purefoy? This may seem to come as quite a surprise as past candidates have been of the A-list variety. Hugh Jackman and Clive Owen have been favored replacements for Pierce Brosnan, while only last week the Wall Street Journal reported a short list of Bond directors that included names like Sam Raimi and Gore Verbinski.
It’s pure speculation at this point, but is it possible the proposed sale of MGM is affecting the development of Bond 21? In May it seemed all but certain the studio would be sold to Sony Pictures (so much so, MGM offered a one-time stock dividend to its shareholders). But then Sony pulled out of the deal. Time Warner quickly stepped up, and once again it was reported that a deal was imminent. But weeks have gone by without any indication of a WB/MGM deal.
Is it possible Time Warner has gone the way of Sony?
Without a new parent company, MGM would be on its own producing Bond 21. While MGM has had no problem in the past mounting a Bondian-sized budget, the setback of the sale — not to mention the now ill-timed stock dividend — may have changed the studio’s financial situation. A bit of belt tightening may be in order…which makes Armstrong and Purefoy not such unlikely candidates after all.
Or it could be that Purefoy is signed as Bond only as a backup while Eon goes into one last round of negotiations with Pierce Brosnan. This was exactly the case in 1970 when American actor John Gavin was signed to play 007 in Diamonds Are Forever. With new Bond in hand, UA made one last attempt to lure Connery back into the role, and caved into Connery’s demand for what at the time was the unheard of salary of $1 million. (FYI: Cubby honored Gavin’s contract and paid the actor in full.)
But with each passing week the rumours get wilder and Eon’s continued silence only fuels speculation. The Purefoy and Armstrong rumours may very well go the way of Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, and Eric Bana… But as the clock ticks down, Eon and MGM will have to announce their plans for Bond 21 soon.
Here’s hoping it’s sooner than later.
Keep watching CBn for the latest news on Bond 21.