October 5, 2012 marks the 50 year anniversary of the release of "Dr. No" – the movie that kicked off the longest-running film franchise in history. To celebrate, Epix will be airing "Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007." The documentary offers a detailed survey of everything about the film franchise, starting with Ian Fleming and his novels, and going on to tell the tale of the people that brought Bond to life in the cinemas... including "the family of Bond".
Of course, James Bond is famously not a "family man." He's a loner secret agent whose lack of any family makes him particularly suitable for the dangers and responsibilities of his job. And yet the story about bringing this character to life in the cinema is very much one of family – a family that was created around the efforts of giving life to 007. The franchise's original producers, Harry Saltzman and Albert Romolo Broccoli (a.k.a. "Cubby"), spent so much time working on the movies together, they brought their own families along for it. Their daughters, only two years apart, went to school together. And there was a dynastic succession of the producer's role – from Albert to his daughter, Barbara – who's produced every "Bond" since her father retired, starting with "Golden Eye."
Earlier this week, we spoke to both Barbara Broccoli and Hilary Saltzman about the new documentary.
At what point did you start hanging out on the Bond set?
Broccoli: Always, from birth. I was born in '60 and they did the deal in '61, and the first film came out in '62, so I was in Jamaica as a baby.
Saltzman: And I was born in January '62. And, um, you know... this is my 50th year, too. [laughs]
When did it become apparent to you that you wanted to be involved in an assistive, professional capacity in the films?
Broccoli: I just wanted to be with my dad. So I just wanted to spend as much time as I could with him. Both Cubby and Harry had an unbelievable passion for what they did and it was very infectious. And so it was an exciting world to be around, so you just wanted to stay with them and be and do the stuff.
Saltzman: And I worked with my father even after he stopped working with the "Bond" films. He ran a theater production company in London ... and I worked there with him for 2 years. And the two films he did after the "Bond" films, I worked with him. I mean, it was really the same thing. We really enjoyed being in their world. And if you wanted to be with your father that was the world you needed to be in.
Broccoli: And they were extraordinary people.
Saltzman: They were great to be around. It wasn't a difficulty.
Broccoli: It was never a dull moment. And I couldn't get enough of my father. We would be working all day -- we'd be hanging in rags --and he'd say "OK, where're we going for dinner? Who's coming?" And all of us, we'd all go. And all of the people you're working with, they were all friends. So [Production Designer] Ken Adam or [Film Title Designer] Maurice Binder "Oh, what are we doing tonight," "Let's go here, let's go there." It was nonstop.
Saltzman: We even went on vacation and spent the weekends together.
Your two families were quite close, but then there was also this "family" that formed around some core parts of the crew as well.
Broccoli: Oh absolutely, Ken Adam, Maurice Binder ... everybody was involved -- [Editor] Peter Hunt -- it was a full time event.
Saltzman: And as children we grew up together. I grew up with Roger Moore's children. We're still very, very close friends. When you grow up with a certain kind of experience, when you're in it as a very young child, you don't realize it's a different experience. As you get older, you realize what an extraordinary experience it is, and it bonds you even closer to the people that went through it with you, because it's very hard to try to explain it to anybody who hasn't had that experience.
Broccoli: Yeah it's true, we all have the history, and also with people who haven't grown up around it, it sounds like you're showing off. It's hard, you're kind of a bit shy about saying, "yeah, when we were in Tokyo..." So you have to be with people you feel safe with, and people who understand the kind of world you came from. And it's great to relive those memories. They were extraordinary memories.
Do you have any memories or stories about Ian Fleming himself?
Broccoli: Well, sadly, he died in '64, so I was 4. And there's lots of stories about him. My father spent quite a lot of time with him. When they were working on "From Russia with Love" in Instanbul, he said to my father, "You know you're going to have to continue on beyond me. Other people will have to write these stories after I'm gone." And Ian was a very young man when he died, so it was quite surprising that he had that sense, even at that stage that "Bond" was going to go on for such a long time.
And of all of the films, for each of you, which is your favorite?
Saltzman: I personally don't really have a favorite. I love "From Russia with Love" because my mother is in it, my grandmother is in it, and my mother is pregnant with me in it. So it's sort of a real family affair right there. I always loved "Thunderball," because I love the underwater scenes and being there on vacation ... I just thought they were beautiful. But I think every film brings something of its own that's special. I couldn't separate one from the other.
Broccoli: The way I look at it is, I can pick a favorite film for each actor, that's the way I could do it ... and funny enough, "From Russia with Love" is my favorite of the Sean ones. I loved "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," I thought George was great. And then with Roger, I suppose "The Spy Who Loved Me," because that was one of the first ones I worked on. And then with Timothy, I loved "The Living Daylights" and with Pierce, I think, "Golden Eye." And with Daniel, it's tough because, I mean, "Skyfall" is pretty fabulous, but I also loved "Casino Royale," so I'm a bit torn there.
Just about all of them were really wonderful movies. You guys should be really proud of yourselves.
Broccoli: I think we are proud. We're very proud of everyone who has come before us.
You've had a lot of fantastic choices for themes and artists you've worked with over the years. Could you talk a little bit about the process of selecting these artists and how that comes together?
Broccoli: Well, you know our dads set the bar very high with Shirley Bassey, and particularly "Goldfinger," which was phenomenal.
Saltzman: And Paul McCartney in "Live and Let Die."
Broccoli: And Tom Jones in "Thunderball." They've all been extraordinary artists, and great songs, and everything. And it's always a challenge, because people are always saying, when you start a new film, they go: "Who's James Bond? Who's the girl? What's the car? Who's singing the song?" So we're very excited that Adele has done the theme for "Skyfall," because she's absolutely the greatest artist that there is today, and she follows in this tradition of great female vocalists.
I recently heard an ultimate "Thunderball" theme, written and performed by Johnny Cash.
Broccoli: Really? I'd love to hear it.
Saltzman: Written by Johnny Cash?
Brocooli: And performed?
It's on YouTube. Do you think it's a hoax?
Broccoli: We'll look it up. We'll try and find out.
Saltzman: I've never heard it.
Were there any alternates that never made it?
Broccoli: Through the years, there have been people who have submitted things ... but I think our policy is always is if something isn't accepted, then we don't like to talk about it because I don't think it's fair to the performers.
At the time when you were going into production of "Golden Eye," the franchise was facing some difficult times, not to mention what was going on with your father's health. What were some of the bigger challenges you faced?
Broccoli: The biggest one is that we'd been off the screen for six years because of a lawsuit with MGM, which was very, very distressing – particularly to my father, and really contributed to his demise of his health – and so it was extremely difficult time. Then, when we got excited about starting up again, my father was very instrumental in the Pierce Brosnan decision. He said, "I really want you guys to do it without me," and that was really difficult. He wasn't in really good health. The whole world was saying, "Oh, the Cold War is over, the wall's come down, who needs James Bond? The worlds at peace." We all know the end to that story – the world became even more dangerous.
And we got Martin Campbell, who's a fantastic director, and Pierce who's a great Bond, and I think we made a really terrific movie. And I'm really proud of that. And I'm happy that my father got to see it. And I know he felt really good that "Bond" was going to continue on beyond him, and I think Harry felt the same.
Saltzman: Absolutely, and I think also that you gave Cubby a real satisfaction and knowledge that the mantle had been passed, and that you could do it. And I think that's a huge thing.
Broccoli: I think they both were really, really proud of the fact that what they had created was going to go on. It was their dream, and it was fulfilled.
"Golden Eye" debuted Judi Dench in her role as M. Over the years, the franchise had started to gain a reputation of sexism -- did you always plan to make some changes in the roles of female characters?
Broccoli: I think the films reflected their times. And I always find it funny that they say the film was sexist – the world was sexist. The world is still sexist. And yes, the casting of Judi Dench as M was a very important one and it's great that Bond's boss was a woman. I hope that there are more [women] bosses out there in the world because women are great decision makers and women need to have more of a stake at what's going on and more choice. So I think the films have reflected society and how the roles of women have changed, and long may it continue.
Who is your favorite Bond heroine?
Saltzman: You know, I can't really tell you. I thought that Eva [Green] was fantastic in "Casino Royale." There was something about her, and also Diana Rigg … and it was a similar situation they both brought something more to who Bond himself was, but I think Ursula [Andress] was the incredibly iconic one. There were so many, though, but Ursula was amazing and Halle [Berry] was fantastic. It's hard to pick one.
Broccoli: Yeah, you can't really pick one . Ursula set the bar so high. And she was revolutionary, because out of the sea came this woman who was athletic, strong, powerful, beautiful, and natural ... at a time, coming out of the '50s, when women were very restrained and constrained, and the '60s when women were being overly made up and this and that. And she just came out of the sea, this strong woman with a purpose, and I think it's hard to forget her. And every "Bond" woman always wants to live up to what she did.
What are the most important lessons about producing films that you learned from your dads?
Broccoli: Take risks.
Saltzman: Never give up.
Broccoli: Never give up, have the passion. Don't be afraid.
"Everything or Nothing" premiers October 5 on Epix.