Ian Fleming's legendary spy novels have spawned dozens of films that span generations. The role of agent 007, James Bond, has been filled by seven different actors to date.
Daniel Craig can be seen as Bond in the current theatrical hit film Spectre, but before Craig filled the stylish shoes of the action-packed secret agent, Pierce Brosnan held the duties for four of the franchises' films. Afterwards, the reasons for the actor parting ways with the series were never public knowledge, but in a new book, Brosnan dishes that he was actually dropped from the franchise rather unceremoniously.
Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury have written a new in-depth tell-all book about the James Bond franchise, titled Some Kind Of Hero: The Remarkable Story Of The James Bond Films. Apparently, a lot of interesting stories are coming from their research and interviews, including details on how Brosnan left the franchise.
Brosnan describes his departure from the role as something more akin to being kicked to the curb:
“I was in the Bahamas, working on a movie called 'After The Sunset' and my agents called me up and said, ‘Negotiations have stopped. [Producers Barbara Broocoli and Michael Wilson] are not quite sure what they want to do. They’ll call you next Thursday. I sat in Richard Harris’s house in the Bahamas, and Barbara and Michael were on the line —‘we’re so sorry.’ She was crying, Michael was stoic and he said, ‘You were a great James Bond. Thank you very much,’ and I said, ‘Thank you very much. Goodbye.’ That was it. I was utterly shocked and just kicked to the curb with the way it went down.”
Any actor that takes on the 007 role has to know that it's a temporary gig. In fact, the James Bond franchise set fans up to accept a new Bond every few years -- a fact that has served to keep the franchise going strong for decades.
The two actors that were arguably the most well known and well received Bonds, Sean Connery and Roger Moore, each held the 007 role for seven films. George Lazenby (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) was only graced with one Bond film, while Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights, License to Kill) held the role for two films. Daniel Craig now has four films under his belt, thanks to the new film Spectre. Brosnan should perhaps note that even Craig is plagued with rumors of being replaced already, with names like Luthor's Idris Elba being thrown around as a possible fresh direction for the role.
It seems clear that Brosnan isn't lamenting the fact that he was replaced. As mentioned above, anyone who enters into the role knows that he will only hold the title for so long. But rather, the sticking point is the manner in which he was dismissed. After four successful films, one would think the decision deserves to have been made face-to-face. Yes, this is show "business," but even so, the idea of the series producers basically handing Brosnan his walking papers via a phone call seems to illustrate just how much the bottom line dictates these sort of decisions.
At that point the Brosnan films just weren't bringing in a huge profit. Just as an example, Brosnan's final Bond film, Die Another Day (2002), made a total worldwide profit of $290 million -- after you remove the production budget from the box office earnings. Meanwhile, Craig's first Bond film, Casino Royale (2006), raked in a profit of $449 million. Those numbers nearly doubled for Skyfall. Clearly, the almighty dollar just wasn't with Brosnan's Bond anymore. Although the actor turned in a great performance in all his 007 features, audiences (and the producers, apparently) just needed a fresh new take on the character.
Spectre is now playing in theaters.