Diamonds are forever — and so is drama.
In August 2018, just two months before the long-awaited 25th James Bond film was set to start filming, Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle left, due to “creative differences.” Cary Fukunaga was hired to replace him, and the flick was delayed until 2020. But on the first day of shooting, the script was reportedly not finished yet, so a frustrated Daniel Craig roped in “Fleabag” writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge to spruce up the dusty dialogue.
But the worst was yet to come. Craig broke his ankle, delaying production further, and famed “A View to a Kill” co-star Grace Jones quit because her cameo role reportedly wasn’t big enough. The film, “No Time To Die,” was dealt its latest blow last week when its studios decided to push the opening from April to November, due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has closed movie theaters in China, Italy, South Korea and Japan.
But Bond flicks wouldn’t be the same without angry fits, accidents and creative push-back. For almost 60 years, the 007 movies have been sources of scandal, from hippie actors going rogue to Bond Girls nearly keeling over during sex scenes.
Sean Connery’s 007 films — from 1962’s “Dr. No” to 1971’s “Diamonds Are Forever” — were beset by injuries. The Scottish actor, who was the first to play the part on the big screen, began with a salary of $13,000, plus a small share of the box office. But while filming 1964’s “Goldfinger,” one of the series’ most popular entries, he badly hurt his back during a fight with the title character’s henchman, Oddjob. Not to be deterred, Connery shrewdly used his suffering to negotiate a 5 percent cut of his future films’ net profits. He raked in $5 million for “Diamonds.”
Remember the helicopter Bond piloted in “You Only Live Twice”? It cost the poor cameraman his foot. According to the Independent, the Little Nellie aircraft was actually captained by its inventor, Ken Wallis, while camera operator John Jordan perilously leaned out, capturing thrilling footage.
During a sequence in which Little Nellie was attacked by two rival copters, one of their blades hit Jordan’s foot and nearly sliced it off. Doctors were able to reattach the limb, but Jordan ultimately chose amputation, saying it didn’t “feel quite right.” Ever the trouper, Jordan went right back to work on the next film, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” with a prosthetic foot.
But that 1969 movie featured an entirely different man wielding the Walther PPK: George Lazenby. That suave Australian landed the most famous role in cinema … by lying to everybody.
A 28-year-old model with zero acting experience, Lazenby visited Connery’s tailor on the sly to get a suit to make him look like the Scot in order to impress producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Lazenby handed them a fake résumé, auditioned and got the part.
“I had a meeting with Peter Hunt [the director] and told him I didn’t tell the truth,” Lazenby told The Post in 2017. Hunt had a surprising response.
“You say you can’t act? You fooled two of the most ruthless men I’ve ever met in my life,’” Lazenby recalled Hunt saying of Broccoli and Saltzman. “ ’Stick to your story, and I’ll make you the next James Bond.’ ”
He did, and Lazenby hated it. As the late-’60s counterculture was revving up, the actor grew a very un-Bond-like beard for the movie’s premiere, much to his producers’ chagrin, and then left the series forever.
Four years later, when 45-year-old Roger Moore took over after Connery’s last outing, “Diamonds Are Forever,” he was already a bit long in the tooth to play an action spy. So, after Moore’s contract expired, James Brolin was screen tested for “Octopussy” and was set to become the first American Bond. But Moore ultimately chose to stick it out in the tux till the ripe old age of 57, hitting on hotties and snowboarding in front of green screens for two more movies. Critics constantly chided him for it.
“It’s not double-oh-seven anymore, but double-oh-seventy, the best argument yet for the mandatory retirement age,” a Washington Post critic said of Moore’s final turn as Bond, “A View to a Kill,” in 1985.
“He was kissing leading ladies when they were in their 20s!” his son, Geoffrey Moore, told the Daily Mail, referring to 29-year-old “View” co-star Tanya Roberts.
Pierce Brosnan’s four films in the ’90s and aughts weren’t as scandalous as some of his forebears, but there was a nasty incident involving a fig.
While filming a sex scene for “Die Another Day,” a scantily clad Halle Berry started choking on the fruit.
“Suddenly, there was no sound coming out,” Brosnan told Esquire. “She was waving her arms and I was banging her on the back. I was about to put my arms around her and start doing the Heimlich maneuver, but the both of us were kind of naked … I was certainly in no position to give the Heimlich to Halle at that moment.”
Berry lived to die another day.
“No Time To Die” is said to be Craig’s final Bond film after a 14-year run. Whether or not that turns out to be true, when it comes to outrageous behavior, 007 will always score a perfect 10.
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