Exclusive: James Bond Producer Barbara Broccoli & Hilary Saltzman
October 5, 2012
Today, Friday, October 5, is Global James Bond Day, and it's a particularly special one since 2012 is also the 50th Anniversary of Dr. No, the very first movie starring Sean Connery as Ian Fleming's British super-spy James Bond.
EPIX, the cable and internet content provider, are celebrating this momentous milestone with a entire day of James Bond movies, culminating in the broadcast premiere of Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, a brand-new documentary directed by Steven Riley covering the 50 year history of the James Bond movies from the early days of author Ian Fleming's creation of the character through producers Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman bringing the character to the screen right up until the present day with Daniel Craig securing the Bond mantel.
If you don't have time to watch all the movies shown on EPIX today, Fox Home Entertainment have also conveniently released Bond 50, the 50th Anniversary James Bond collection, containing all 22 official James Bond movies on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as a bonus disc of all-new material including "World of Bond" segments and interviews with all six actors who played James Bond. (It also includes great features like one that allows you to watch all of Maurice Binder's amazing title sequences in chronological order.)
Earlier this week, ComingSoon.net sat down with Barbara Broccoli and Hilary Saltzman, daughters of the original James Bond producers, to talk about their involvement with James Bond over the past 50 years. CS readers will already be familiar with Broccoli, who has been directly involved with making Bond movies since she was 19, eventually graduating to become the main producer of the franchise alongside Michael Wilson for EON Productions. We learned a lot from talking to the two women, just as we learned so much from watching "Everything or Nothing" - like for instance, the fact that it's those very words that were turned into the acronym "EON."
CS: As a James Bond fan, it's really amazing to watch this documentary because it really is the "untold stuff." There's stuff in the movie that may have been out there, but I certainly never know. I was surprised that neither of you were involved as a producer, so can you talk about how you got involved?
Broccoli: Hilary will tell you what her thing (was), but from our side, I got this call from John Battseck, "You guys, we know the anniversary's coming up. Have you ever thought about doing a documentary?" "I don't know. It's a complicated story and there's so much stuff. "Can we come talk to you?" So he and Simon Chinn came in and spoke to Michael (Wilson) and I. We said, "Well, we gotta think about it." So Michael and I spent a lot of time discussing it. We said, "You know, it's such a rollercoaster. There's so many stories, and how can you tell it all?" We didn't want it to be just a puff piece. Once you open everything up and you think, "Well, gosh, what is it going to be like going through your whole family life and everything?" Because of the kind of producers they are and the kind of films they've made, we felt, "Well, if we're ever going to do it, this is the right time in 50 years. If we were going to let someone do it, these are the guys." They brought in Stevan Riley and we just felt he was meticulous and he seemed fair and he seemed like he really wanted to do a good job for all of us. So, we kinda said, "Okay, and we'll bite the bullet." We didn't want to get too involved. We did our interviews we gave them lists of people and contacts, but we kind of wanted to take a step away because we felt it was necessary for someone outside. Saltzman:To have an objectivity. Broccoli: Exactly. Saltzman: Because the difficulty when you grew up in it, it's a different story. It's important. Part of what I've enjoyed also with this is watching people who don't know anything about it, see what they glean from this film. Is it really that interesting to somebody else? Obviously, it's interesting to us. They contacted me at the end of last year, and they wanted archives and photographs from my father and family. I have literally for the last 30 years of my life been carting around these trunks of loose-leaf photographs and photo albums that my mother had put together. I was, "Oh, next year, next year." They asked me to open those trunks, and it was very bittersweet. I archived all of the photographs for them--I'm glad I did it, but it was a tough journey personally, but I'm very thrilled with what they took and wove together because they were able to separate the chaff in a way and really find a very great core story that serves everybody in this. Honestly, that's the most important thing to me. I felt it was really important to be honest. I had the feeling that this was the time to set it right and straight and be honest.
CS: Also they cover many different sides of what happened including having George Lazenby and Roger Moore talk about how they came on board. Barbara, you've been involved with making the Bond movies since you were a teenager, but were you aware of all this stuff going on while you were growing up, Hilary?
Saltzman: Sure, sure, because we were all in England and everybody in the film industry was a large family. When they weren't working on films, we were all living in each other's pockets, whether in the Bond films or not in the Bond films. Michael Caine and his family are our friends, Peter Sellers and their friends. Everybody was close. Dennis Selinger, who was the agent to everybody, right, I mean, was there. Broccoli: All the restaurants, all the bars and things. Saltzman:Yeah, and Maurice Binder dressed up as Father Christmas for me and taught me how to drive. So we were all family. For me personally, when things started to go awry, my mother was getting sick at the same time, so that's what I was focused on. Things were changing deeply in my world because my mother was ill, we were selling our home, we were moving. I knew my father's business was suffering, but that was secondary to what we were going through personally. All of those people still stuck by our side. I mean, Michael and Shakira Caine were in our home in Florida and Maurice Binder bought the house next door so that he could be with us to the very end. So none of those relationships shifted, even though my father's work shifted.
CS: So you two knew each other when you were younger?
Broccoli: Yeah, we went to school together. Were were all family. Saltzman: We were on sets together. We were on vacations together and we would charter huge airplanes. I have all these fabulous photographs of cast and crew and all the children and kit and caboodle.
CS: And you two have stayed in touch over time or did you meet up for various events?
Broccoli: Yeah, sporadically because of course our lives all changed and we got married, we had kids, you know, all kinds of things were going on. Saltzman: We lived in different countries. We were in LA for a while at the same time, and then Barbara was spending a lot of time in London. I was in LA. Ten years ago I moved to Canada. I moved to an hour away from where my father was born without even knowing it and I have a crazy story right there. My father had always said he was born in St. John, New Brunswick, and I found out that when I moved to Canada they needed to have more information about my father's immigration to the States. It took me two years to get that information because he had served in the OSS and he had been giving out false addresses and places of birth to cover himself. I found out that he was born an hour away from where I had moved, then he had worked in the overseas secret service during World War II.
CS: Did you both learn things from watching this movie that you didn't realize before?
Saltzman: Well, I'd known a lot of those things before. I think the thing I learned the most from this film was a lot of the Kevin McClory background, which I found fascinating, and about Ian (Fleming), which I think is amazing, the photos that they'd found of Ian were beautiful. I loved hearing each of those guys, from George Lazenby on up talk, about their experiences. You know, this was a team effort. This is not one person. Ian created an extraordinary character and our fathers took that character and created an incredible film legacy. Michael and Barbara have carried that ball rolling. I think it's taken a village, always to make it happen. Broccoli: I think what's really remarkable is when you think back, this was a British hero, a series of books, a spy and I think it was essential that both Harry and Cubby were anglophiles. Harry had come from Canada, Cubby had come from America. They both were living in London. They both loved England. I think it was because they were the way they were that this film series had such international appeal. It wasn't a parochial British spy film. It became something else, you know? It became this phenomenon because I think they shook it up. The casting of Sean Connery, I think if a British film producer, a Korda or someone like that had done it, they would've cast a David Niven or someone like that. They wouldn't have cast someone who was a Scottish bricklayer, because they saw in him the potential of this cinematic antihero in a way, someone who looked on the outside very smooth and suave and under control, but inside was the coiled spring, the blunt instrument that Fleming spoke of. I think had it not been them who had done it, I don't think we would be celebrating the 50 years. Saltzman: Everybody had a different (background). Ken Adams was one of the only Germans who flew in the RAF during World War II. You have Maurice Binder who was an American who'd created those extraordinary titles. Everybody that came in brought in other experiences, from themselves and from the world and were just incredibly creative artistic geniuses with visions that they were fulfilling.
CS: I think the first time I met you, Barbara, it really destroyed my impressions because James Bond was always so British to me that I assumed everyone involved was British and I was shocked when I realized you were from America.
Broccoli: Yeah, but they loved Britain. Cubby moved there in '52. He made 18 pictures in Britain before he made the James Bond film. Saltzman: My father lived in Europe before the war and he was living in Paris in 1935. As soon as the war ended he went back to France. One of the things that I do remember him talking about was how he was friends with all of those people that gathered there from Hemingway to Collette. Collette was one of his best friends that he had relationships with an extraordinary group of iconic writers and yeah. Broccoli: The other thing about Cubby and Harry is they were so passionate about what they were doing. They loved making these movies. They had energy. They had vision. They lived and breathed it from morning, noon and night. They loved what they were doing. Saltzman: They were happy doing it. Broccoli: They had wives who were both strong women who were front and center who were very much a part of it. Saltzman: And supportive. Broccoli: And supportive and family meant a lot to them. There were a lot more ways in which they were similar than they were dissimilar. I mean, Danjaq is the company name is Dana and Jacqueline, the two wives. I mean, they were very similar in that what mattered was the wives, the family, making the movies and making what they wanted. Saltzman: And live it, right. Broccoli: Exactly. Saltzman: And making sure that their husbands were free to do what they needed to, and there were amazing support systems to them both.
CS: You spoke about the casting of Sean, but you've been involved with casting three of the Bonds, basically half of them. Was it interesting to look back and see what was involved with your fathers casting the other ones?
Broccoli: I think what I learned from that is Cubby and Harry fought for Sean. That was the guy. There was no question in their mind. The studio said, "Think we can do better." They said, "No thank you. This is who we want." Saltzman: And Peter Hunt. Broccoli: Peter Hunt too, yeah. I think strength of your conviction, go with your gut, go with your instinct and fight for what you believe in. That's something that both of our dads were really the best at. They stood up for what they believed in, so when we go to make these decisions… Saltzman: You have to shut out the world. Broccoli: Yeah, you do. When you're dealing with a franchise, you have to think in long term because most movies are about one movie. My father always used to say in terms of studios and this and that, "Temporary people making permanent decisions." You can't put your hands in them. You have to decide what you think is right. It could be wrong what you decide, but make it your decision. I think we both learned a lot from our dads and got that strength and conviction from them. Saltzman: Absolutely.
CS: Watching a movie like this, do you look back and reflect on some of those decisions made over the years?
Broccoli: Oh sure. You're always reliving things all the time. You think, "Oh gosh, I remember that day. Oh Christ, we lost that location or that—so and so was sick or this or that, or well, I wish we'd done this differently or that." That's because it's all there to remind you.
CS: Right, but you're so busy working on the current movie and next movie, you don't have to worry so much about it.
Broccoli: Yeah, exactly. But you take risks. Both Cubby and Harry were risk takers. You have to take risks. If you don't, you're going to atrophy.
CS: One of the things I was thinking about while watching this movie is how the internet has changed everything, something we see due to the reactions when Daniel was cast. When they cast Sean Connery, there wasn't that immediate internet reaction that's everywhere.
Broccoli: Well, yeah, and everyone has an equal voice on the internet. It doesn't mean that if somebody puts something on the internet, it could be true, it could be not true. It's one person's opinion. In the case of the people against Daniel Craig, I mean, it was apparently two young kids who got on, "Well, we don't like him," and how that turned into this firestorm, which of course was preposterous because when Daniel was actually seen in the film, everybody loved him. Saltzman: I think that with Daniel, Daniel was the first actor that already had done extraordinary work. I mean, I really admired him as an actor. I thought he jumped off the screen in "Munich" for me. I mean, he was a part of an ensemble cast, but every time he was on screen, that's all I was looking at, not because of looks, but because of what he was bringing across as an actor. When I had heard that Barbara and Michael had cast him, I just thought, "Brilliant." But at the same time, I was impressed because in the past, all the producers had gone for somebody that had not yet accomplished much in films, maybe in television…
CS: Right, like Pierce.
Saltzman: Well, and Roger, too. He had done "The Saint" and "The Persuaders," or were known theatrically, and he was a man who was really starting his cinematic career. I thought it was an amazing coup to have a great actor because you knew that he would be able to add that extra layer to the character of Bond and that emotional layer that some of the actors had not yet touched on. So for me, I thought it was brilliant.
CS: I'm also looking forward to "Skyfall," because you've added Javier and Ralph and of course, with Sam Mendes directing.
Broccoli: It's pretty amazing, I have to say, yeah. I mean, Javier's a great villain. I mean, he's just extraordinary.
CS: I'm seeing it in roughly ten days so I'm pretty excited and counting the days. Obviously now that you've made it to 50 years, what's the next step? When you start the next movie, it's going into the second half-centennial.
Broccoli: I don't know. How long are we going to last Hilary? Should we do this every ten years? Saltzman: I hope so. I mean, our fathers worked until the day that they couldn't work anymore. I work in the independent film industry, but it's something that when you grow up on it, it's your lifeblood. I'm not happy sitting at home not doing anything that isn't involved in something cinematic, and I'm sure Barbara's exactly the same way. Broccoli: Yeah, we're not "put up your feet" kinda girls. (Laughs) Saltzman: Exactly, so as long as it can perpetuate, I hope it does. Maybe our children will end up coming on board on some capacity. I mean, each film stands on its own as a great film that holds a kind of fabulous mirror up to its time and to its era. Whether you've seen any of them or none of them, each film stands on its own. You don't have to follow a story, and I think that's part of what's great about these films. You know, it is like a great book that doesn't have to end. You still get to have another chapter. You share your favorite books with your children. You share this character with your children and that's why we have new generations coming onboard. It's beautiful.
CS: So is there a next generation of Broccolis and Saltzmans ready to jump into the Bond business?
Saltzman: Let's hope so. Broccoli: You never know. I mean, my son's into film. He's a film buff and he's starting out right now and who knows? You never know.
Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 debuts on EPIX on Friday, October 5 at 8PM as part of their all-day celebration of James Bond Day, starting at 8:45 AM with On Her Majesty's Secret Service. "Bond 50," the 50th Anniversary James Bond Blu-ray Collection, is also now available from Amazon.