The same goes for Martin Scorsese with our Howard Hughes biopic, “The Aviator”. A subject like Mr. Hughes naturally invites controversy and strong emotion. The push from outside the creative circle was for the sinister and the sensational, but Marty watched all the challenges that threatened our more human version of the story. He would sometimes say, “Yes, that would make an interesting Howard Hughes movie, but it’s not. our Howard Hughes film. Significantly, in the case of “Gladiator” and “The Aviator,” we were working with courageous producers who stood up for our choices. They cared more about the art than the bottom line.
When making a movie, you need a champion to fight battles like these. Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson are the champions of James Bond. They keep corporate and business pressures outside the door. They are also not motivated by them. That’s why we don’t have a gigantic Bond cinematic universe, with endless anemic variations of 007 growing on TV, streaming, or spinoff movies. Bond films are truly the most personalized and handcrafted films I have ever worked on. That is why they are original, thorny, eccentric and special. They were never created with lawyers, accountants, and mass marketing ecommerce pollsters in the background.
This is also why they can afford to be bold. Here’s an example from “Skyfall” – my favorite day at work on the movie, actually.
Sam Mendes, the director, and I walked into Barbara and Michael’s office, sat down at the family table, and started the first scene between Bond and the villain, Raoul Silva. Now, the moment when 007 first meets its archnemesis is often the iconic moment in a Bond movie, the scene around which you build much of the narrative and cinematic beats. (Think Bond’s first encounter with Dr. No or Goldfinger or Blofeld, all classic scenes in the franchise.) Well, Sam and I boldly announced that we wanted to do this pivotal scene as a homoerotic seduction. Barbara and Michael didn’t need to survey a focus group. They didn’t need to verify this radical idea with a studio or business – they instantly loved it. They knew it was fresh and new, challenging in a way that keeps the franchise contemporary. They were not afraid of controversy. In my experience, few great films can function with such freedom and risky joy. But with the Broccoli / Wilson family at the helm, Bond is allowed to provoke, grow, and be idiosyncratic. May this continue for a long time.
James Bond survived the Cold War, Goldfinger, Jaws, Disco and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, on multiple occasions. And I can only hope that the powers that be at Amazon recognize the uniqueness of what they have just acquired and allow and encourage this special family business to continue unhindered.
Bond is not “happy” and he is not just a commodity. It has been a part of our lives for decades now. From Sean Connery to George Lazenby to Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, we all grew up with our version of 007, so we care deeply about him.
Please let 007 drink his martinis in peace. Don’t shake it, don’t stir it.
John Logan co-wrote the screenplays for the James Bond films “Skyfall” and “Specter”. It was nominated at the Oscars for Best Original Screenplay for “The Aviator” and “Gladiator”, and for Best Suited Screenplay for “Hugo”. He won the Tony Award for Best Play for “Red”.
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