IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Producer Barbara Broccoli Talks 'Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007,' and 'Skyfall'

Friday, 05 October 2012 15:44 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Producer Barbara Broccoli Talks 'Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007,' and 'Skyfall'

Premiering October 5th on EPIX is the new documentary Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, which examines one of cinemas most enduring characters, … James Bond!

The film’s debut coincides with the 50th anniversary of the release of Dr. No, as well as Global James Bond Day, which will also be celebrated on October 5th. In addition, Bond 50 was released earlier this week, which marks the first time all 22 Bond movies have ever been available on Blu-ray. Not to mention that the latest Bond installment – Skyfall – will be in theaters on November 9th.

The exclusive EPIX documentary was directed by Steven Riley (Fire in Babylon) and produced by John Battsek (The Tillman Story) and Simon Chinn (Man on Wire). Everything or Nothing focuses on three men - Bond producers Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, and author Ian Fleming – and tells the story of how they brought Fleming’s classic spy character to the big screen and created the longest running film franchise in cinematic history. The movie contains candid interviews with Broccoli, Saltzman, and Fleming’s family including Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Hilary and Steven Saltzman, and Lucy Fleming, as well as Bond fans like Mike Myers, and President Bill Clinton, and Bond actors such as George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli’s daughter, Barbara Broccoli – who has also served as a producer on all of the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig Bond movies – about her involvement in the making of Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, as well as the upcoming Skyfall. Broccoli spoke candidly to me about the new documentary, her family’s legacy, Cubby and Harry’s relationship, Fleming’s approval, why George Lazenby deserves more respect, the Kevin McClory controversy, why Never Say Never Again is NOT a real Bond movie, Sean Connery’s apparent distain for the franchise, telling Pierce Brosnan that he’s no longer James Bond, reinventing the series with Casino Royale, what we can expect from Skyfall, if the introduction of Q means more gadgets, and beginning a new storyline that will be continued in Bond 24 and Bond 25.

Here is what the accomplished producer had to say:

IAR: To begin with, so much of the documentary deals with your family and your father’s life’s work, was it difficult for you to be interviewed for this project and have to relive all of those personal experiences both good and bad on camera?

Barbara Broccoli: To be honest, it was very difficult and very painful at times. Michael (Wilson) and I really thought long and hard about allowing a documentary to be made because we knew that it was going to be revisiting a lot of memories, both joyous and painful. John Battsek and Simon Chinn approached us and said that they’d like to do a documentary to celebrate the 50th anniversary the Bond movies. You know, they're just such reputable producers of documentaries, and Steven Riley is such a responsible and fair director that we thought well, it's now or never. If not now, then when and we thought it was an appropriate time to celebrate the achievements of Cubby, Harry, Ian Fleming and the original team of creators who started this franchise. It's a way of honoring and celebrating them and everyone that's come since then too. 

So you and Michael were both fully prepared to discuss the more uncomfortable aspects of Bond movie history?

Broccoli: Well we felt it was time to do it. I think we feel very comfortable with the decision and the way the film is honest. I hope that it conveys the passion and the commitments of the original team of people, the creators of this series and I hope it honors and celebrates them. 

Can you talk a little bit about Cubby’s partnership with Harry and how that created the Bond movie franchise?

Broccoli: They had an extraordinary relationship, and there were plenty of similarities between them. They were both passionate about Bond and about filmmaking in general and entertainment they were driven and committed and they were very hands on, they had great vision, they complimented each other tremendously, and I think it was very appropriate that they were both Anglophiles. Cubby grew up in America and Harry grew up in Canada but they both loved Europe and lived there for many years. I mean my father made eighteen pictures in the UK before he made a James Bond film. I think they brought an international sensibility and real showmanship to the series and gave it an enduring appeal.

Ian Fleming really approved of their work and stood behind the direction they were taking the character, is that correct?

Broccoli: Oh absolutely! I mean, as you’ve seen from the documentary, he struggled with getting the books made into a film. The first attempt was the Americanization of Bond on TV and he was bitterly disappointed with that. He was yearning to have it appropriately turned into a cinematic creation and I think he was really profoundly moved by what he saw. He only really saw the first two films, he died tragically in 1964, but he had died knowing that the film series was going to continue on and I think that gave him great satisfaction. 

There were a few interesting pieces of Bond trivia that I learned from watching the documentary including the fact that George Lazenby had never acted prior to making On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, can you talk about that?

Broccoli: I mean isn't that wonderful? That's an amazing story isn't it? Again, someone very driven and committed and focused on achieving a dream which is what he wanted and I think he's very candid in the documentary and I think it's very brave of him to talk about that period in his life and I think it'll be very interesting to people because it's about him personally, it's also about fame an all kinds of things. His story has real relevance.

I think On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a really good Bond movie…

Broccoli: Oh, it's a fantastic film. He did incredibly well in the movie.

Yet George Lazenby is often considered to be the worst of the Bonds and only got a chance to play the role once. Do you think he has gotten a bad rap over the years?

Broccoli: I think he did. Well if you know as he says himself, I think it all just happened too fast. I think it was a whirlwind and I think he probably given the opportunity again it probably would have a different outcome. 

Another Bond fact that I learned from the documentary is that Never Say Never Again is not actually part of the Bond movie catalog. Can you talk about what happened with Kevin McClory on Thunderball and how that resulted in he and Connery making Never Say Never Again against Cubby and Harry’s wishes?

Broccoli: It's such a complicated story with so many twists and turns because McClory's relationship with Ian Fleming predated Cubby and Harry's relationship with Ian. There was this lawsuit with McClory and Ian, which came towards the end of Fleming's life and caused him tremendous distress. Cubby and Harry inherited it and made an arrangement with him on Thunderball to bring McClory into the fold and make him a producer on that film. Then many years later McClory came back asserting that he had the rights to remake it and there it began. That was the story that went on for decades with McClory looming large on the horizon and it was a very stressful time obviously when Octopussy and Never Say Never Again went head to head. And the McClory story continued on until very recently. 

With McClory’s passing, are you relieved now that you finally have closure to that whole ordeal?

Broccoli: Yeah, it had its moments of real extremes of sadness and triumph and it's a very emotional story. It affected all of us in different ways and it was one of the most enduring and long suffering battles that went on for decades. 

It’s revealed in the documentary that your father and Sean Connery had a chance to speak and make up before Cubby’s death, did that mean a lot to him?

Broccoli: It was very important I think for both of them and certainly it meant a great deal to me as well. 

There are a lot of great interviews in the film from the former Bond actors but I couldn’t help notice the absence of Sean Connery. Is that because he is retired at this point in his career and didn’t want to participate or do you think he is still unhappy with his exit from the franchise and is trying to distance himself from the Bond legacy?

Broccoli: You know what, you'd have to ask him. He was invited to participate and the producers of the documentary made several approaches. I'm not sure why he didn't. I think the fact is that Sean made his mark in cinema and this series. He is synonymous with James Bond, he was the original, and he was the creator of the character in cinematic terms. I don't think we would be here today celebrating fifty years if it weren't for Sean Connery. I think his legacy is on screen, it is eternal and that's what we're celebrating. 

In the documentary, you are very candid when talking about the moment after 9/11 when you realized that the series could not continue on in the direction that it was going. Once you decided to re-boot the franchise, you had to make a very difficult phone call to Pierce Brosnan to tell him that he was no longer going to be James Bond, can you talk about that conversation?

Broccoli: It was very difficult. I had known Pierce for many, many years since the beginning when he was with Cassandra Harris, who was an important Bond female actress. She and Pierce arrived on the set in Corfu with their children, so we went way back with him and he was a fantastic Bond. He made some of the most successful films in the whole series. It was very difficult decision that we had to make and he was a real gentleman about it. He certainly left his mark on the series and I'm grateful that we're still very close to his family. I saw him in fact the other day. We've all moved on. He continues to do successful films like Mama Mia! and we celebrate him today as well. 

When the new series with Daniel Craig began, it was stated that it would be a more grounded version with out a lot of the gadgets that we became accustomed to in the previous films. But with Skyfall, you are reintroducing the character of Q to the series, does that mean we can also expect the reintroduction of Bond’s gadgets in this installment?

Broccoli: Q is an integral part of the story in Skyfall. We were very excited to cast Ben Whishaw who is a really exciting actor. It's fun. There are a few new gadgets in this film. The whole idea of having Bond go and fight a villain who is as savvy and determined as Javier Bardem, I think he’ll need all the help he can get. 

Finally, it was originally rumored that Skyfall would complete a trilogy of films that began with Casino Royale, but now that Daniel Craig has signed on to do two more Bond movies, can we still expect Skyfall to end the storyline from Casino Royale or will it start a new one that will continue in the future films?

Broccoli: In fact, this is a new story. Quantum of Solace was really the follow up to Casino Royale. We felt it put the whole Vesper story to bed. You know Bond went out for revenge for her death and we felt that we had finished that storyline. So this is a new one and a pretty exciting movie. I think we were very, very eager to make the best Bond ever given the fact that it's the 50th anniversary and (director) Sam Mendes has done an extraordinary job. We're just so happy with this movie and hope that the fans and the audiences will love it as much as we enjoyed making it.       

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 begins airing October 5th on EPIX.

Skyfall will be released U.S. theaters on November 9th.

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