In a revealing interview with the New York Times, producer Michael G. Wilson has clarified the facts surrounding yesterday’s casting of Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale.
“I was desperately afraid, and Barbara [Broccoli] was desperately afraid, we would go downhill,” said Wilson, who shared this concern with Craig’s predecessor, Pierce Brosnan. “We are running out of energy, mental energy,” Wilson recalled saying. “We need to generate something new, for ourselves.”
Wilson says the decision to not go with Pierce for a fifth film had nothing to do with money. “If we wanted to make a deal, we would’ve made a deal with Pierce at some financially viable level,” he said. “This was about us trying to find new inspiration for the series.”
Barbara Broccoli wanted Daniel Craig in April, but Sony wanted more tests
The decision to cast a new James Bond also came about partly because of a shift in the leisure habits of young men, who used to be the most avid moviegoing audience but have been migrating to other interests. In the late 1990’s, market research showed Bond movies to have the oldest demographic of any action-adventure series. Lately, however, the booming success of Bond video games has driven a younger audience to the movies, said Wilson. Sony and the producers did not want to disappoint this new audience.
However, the sale of MGM/UA slowed down the casting process, said Wilson. Casting had already been going on in London when a consortium led by Sony won a bidding war with Time Warner and acquired the historic studio and its a long-time partnership with the Bond franchise. Casting had to be re-examined when MGM came under the aegis of Sony motion picture group’s chief executive, Amy Pascal.
The Times cliams that, according to several executives involved in the project, Barbara Broccoli had already settled on Craig by April. Indeed, this was about the time when Craig was first announced to the world media as being the new Bond. But Pascal wanted to begin a more exhaustive search that would include other, younger actors.
Eventually, some 200 actors from throughout the British Commonwealth “came up for discussion.” They included well-known names like Colin Farrell, Orlando Bloom and Clive Owen, as well as many unknowns. Those who rated screen tests included the British actor Henry Cavill, the Australians Alex O’Lachlan and Sam Worthington, and the Croatian-born Goran Visnjic.
It was only after all these ruminations that the producers and Sony finally settled on Daniel Craig. “I think that he has a kind of intensity, and a sexuality, and a roguishness,” says Pascal. “And he seems like he could be a spy.”
Casino Royale will be the 21st James Bond film produced by EON Productions. The MGM/Columbia Pictures production begins shooting in January and is due for release worldwide on November 17, 2006. It will be filmed in the Czech Republic, the Bahamas, Italy and the UK.