It’s that time again, time to find a new 007 as Daniel Craig retires from the iconic role after five tries.
I admit up front I’m a fan of Bond, James Bond. I’ve seen 24 of the 25 Bond movies over these past 58 years, most of them several times. I loved them all, sometimes more on third viewing than first.
So, who will be Eon Productions No. 7 007?
The producers must find a new leading man for their evergreen gold mine based on the character from Ian Fleming’s initial James Bond novel in 1953, “Casino Royale.” Or must it be a leading man?
Actually, every man to play Bond has brought a good deal of himself to the role, which has smartly changed with the times along with the weapons and gadgets. You may have noticed Bond no longer smokes, he treats women somewhat better. And Sean Connery argued the character needed at least a modest sense of humor.
Diversity seems to be the big catchphrase these days. Is it time for a change? A black man? A black woman? Hispanic? Transgender? Would audiences put up with a radical departure like a female secret agent who orders a Chardonnay spritzer? Not shaken. Not stirred? She’d have to be very good to top Angelina Jolie in “Salt.”
There’s a lot of money riding on such a decision, hundreds of millions, in fact. The fun folks over at Morning Consult have done a poll on what we’d like in a new James or Janice Bond.
Turns out, folks don’t seem keen for much change from a straight, white British male. The biggest result for change – and it wasn’t very big — was 51 percent who’d favor an American James Bond.
That choice dropped six points since a 2018 survey. Twenty-seven percent said, No thanks. And 23 percent just didn’t know.
To some of us, a Yankee James Bond is an oxymoron. He’d become Jimmy Bond with cool dance moves. He’d hire someone else to do the chasing. He’d favor some obscure craft brew but would get in on the wrong side of an Aston Martin.
Here are more of the poll results:
Forty-five percent could support a black Jamesis Bond. But that, too, is down seven points in the last three years. And opposed by 30 percent.
Hispanic Jaime Bond? Thirty-nine percent say Sí. A close 35 percent said No.
An Asian James Bond and a female Bond both came in with 36 percent support. But nearly half (45 percent) said No thank you on the woman and 36 percent voted No on the Asian.
Which brings us to a gay James Bond. That idea was favored by only about one-in-four (28 percent) and opposed by nearly half (49 percent).
(Leave your new Bond thoughts in the Comments below.)
Sean Connery was a raw, virile Scottish bodybuilder when Albert Broccoli picked him over David Niven, Ian Fleming’s favorite sophisticate. “I’m looking for Commander Bond,” said the initially unimpressed Broccoli, “not an overgrown stunt-man.”
Connery and Roger Moore each played the Bond role seven times. Craig did five times, Pierce Brosnan four, Timothy Dalton two, and David Niven and George Lazenby one each. Niven was in a Bond parody with Woody Allen, the first “Casino Royale.”
Lazenby, an Australian model and actor, generally gets a low Bond ranking, but interested me as a less slick secret agent, rather like I think I would be. And he wore a kilt. Producer Albert Broccoli is said to have encountered him in a barbershop and been impressed at his audition.
Lazenby’s lone Bond role was as Connery’s replacement in 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Lazenby’s agent lacked foresight, told his client the Bond character would soon be archaic, and convinced him not to return. But Lazenby did get to marry Diana Riggs onscreen, at least briefly.
Oh, and I do love the Bond movies’ writing!
This is Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.
Do you expect me to talk?
No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.
I’m Pussy Galore.
Of course, you are.
Sean Connery remains my favorite actor – in that and pretty much any role. Until Craig, my second favorite was Lazenby.
Now retired Craig, who brought a more nuanced secret agent to the MI6 role, has offered the opinion that a woman should not seek the James Bond role. Producers, he said, should instead create stronger parallel female characters.
Barbara Broccoli, the longtime producer, has issued her opinion. And, quite honestly, polls aside, it’s the only opinion that counts:
James Bond is a male character.