‘A black Bond is totally legitimate’: Casino Royale director Martin Campbell spills the beans on recasting 007

FILM 'GOLDENEYE' BY MARTIN CAMPBELL (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
FILM 'GOLDENEYE' BY MARTIN CAMPBELL (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

Martin Campbell has twice been the guy EON turns to when they want to reboot James Bond.

The Kiwi director (best known for his work on seminal BBC series Edge of Darkness - available on Blu-ray now for the very first time - as well as movies like The Mask of Zorro and Green Lantern) helmed Pierce Brosnan’s first turn as 007 in 1995’s GoldenEye before reinvigorating the franchise again with Daniel Craig in 2006’s Casino Royale.

Now with Craig hanging up his spy shoes after No Time to Die next April and gossip rampant about who will take over the mantle, it seems right to ask the man who helped cast the role twice just what happens behind the scenes and who he thinks is the next likely candidate on the Bond casting Wikipedia page.

“To be honest, they’re very democratic,” explains Campbell. “You get a full day’s test, sets are built, they’re really detailed tests. These are proper scenes. Then what happens is you all sit round a table at the end – myself, the producers, the casting director… it’s basically a show of hands.”

Read more: New photo of Daniel Craig in Bond 25

There are entire corners of the internet dedicated to the people who were allegedly almost Bond, charting everyone from nobodies like Daniel Pilon and explorer Ranulph Fiennes to Sam Neill and Henry Cavill.

PROMOTION OF THE NEW JAMES BOND, 'GOLDENEYE' (Photo by Eric Robert/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)
Martin Campbell, Famke Janssen, Pierce Brosnan and Izabella Scorupco announcing GoldenEye. (Eric Robert/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

When GoldenEye came along, after MGM’s protracted legal wrangles were finally resolved, Timothy Dalton was let go and guys like Sean Bean, late British actor Mark Frankel and Frenchman Lambert Wilson (who you might recognise from the Matrix sequels) were apparently in the frame. Of course, Brosnan – who had auditioned previously but couldn’t get out of his TV contract – became 007.

Read more: How we made Edge of Darkness

“To be honest with Pierce, even though we went around and met people, I’m a bit vague about it because in the back of our heads we knew Pierce was going to play it, there was no-one else,” says Campbell.

“I think we did a perfunctory meeting of two or three people.”

But the internet says 8th Doctor Who Paul McGann auditioned and was the producers’ choice to step in if Brosnan said ‘no’?

Irish actor Pierce Brosnan as 007, driving a BMW Z3 for a scene in the James Bond film 'GoldenEye', 2nd February 1995. Polish actress Izabella Scorupco is in the seat behind him. Here Brosnan operates the clapperboard for the camera. (Photo by Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)
Irish actor Pierce Brosnan as 007, driving a BMW Z3 for a scene in the James Bond film 'GoldenEye', 2nd February 1995. (Photo by Keith Hamshere/Getty Images)

“He wasn’t one of them. We didn’t test anybody. We didn’t even test Pierce.”

Then when the filmmakers were looking to refresh again after 2002’s lacklustre Die Another Day actors like Clive Owen, Henry Cavill, Avatar’s Sam Worthington and Homeland actor Rupert Friend were in the frame.

Read more: Cavill hopes Mission Impossible will help land Bond role

“With Daniel, we did tests of several actors, eight I think, but [producer] Barbara [Broccoli] was very adamant that it should be Daniel, quite rightly, so she really pushed for that,” admits Campbell.

Barbara Broccolli, (producer), Martin Campbell, (director 2nd right) and Michael G.Wilson, (producer far right) unveil Daniel Craig as the new James Bond 007 ahead of the forthcoming filming of the 21st installment in the series, 'Casino Royale', at HMS President, east London, Friday 14 October 2005. See PA story SHOWBIZ Bond. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA
Barbara Broccolli, Martin Campbell, and Michael G.Wilson, unveil Daniel Craig as the new James Bond 007, in 2005. (Ian West/PA)

And now with Craig finishing up his last hurrah, what does the director think about talk around 007 becoming a woman, or someone of colour?

“Frankly, I don’t think a woman is right,” he says.

Read more: A timeline of Idris Elba James Bond rumours

“Someone of colour, absolutely. A black Bond is totally legitimate and may well offer some interesting elements to it.”

Idris, get that tux ready…

Edge of Darkness is on Blu-ray for the first time now. The series has been remastered from the original 16mm film, allowing fans to enjoy the show as never before.