BOND: Quentin Tarantino's Casino Royale

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Matthew Kresal looks at what could've been...


During the long gap between 2002's Die Another Day and the release of Eon's Casino Royale in 2006, an interesting set of stories and rumors surfaced from time to time involving what was widely speculated to be the next Bond film. It wasn't quite the one that became Daniel Craig's debut Bond movie, but it did involve Casino Royale coming to the screen again, only this time from a source outside of the “official” films made by Eon Productions. That of Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino.

Though having been twice adapted for the screen decades before, the director of Pulp Fiction spoke several times about the project beginning in 2003. Below is a quote from an interview with the New York Daily News:
"Someday I`m going to get the rights to do "Casino Royale", the first James Bond novel, and do it the right way. I really wanted it to be my followup to "Pulp Fiction" and do it with Pierce Brosnan, but have it take place after the events of "On Her Majesty`s Secret Service" - after Bond`s wife, Tracy, has been killed.

I want Bond to be in mourning when he falls in love with Vesper Lynd, the woman in the novel. From what I know of Brosnan and read in interviews, I think he`d want to go in the direction I`d want to take Bond, though I`m not certain producers of the series would agree."

Reports on the potential project continued during 2004 and going into 2005, including Tarantino talking about his plans for a 1960s set film based on the novel. It was also reported that he wanted his film to feature Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman (with whom he had collaborated on the two Kill Bill films) in the role of Vesper Lynd. The rumors gained credence in the spring of 2004 when Brosnan confirmed that he had been approached by Tarantino and that a pitch had been made to the Bond film producers by him on the director's behalf.

Yet by the end of 2004, the rumors quietened down with the announcement that Brosnan had exited the role. Brosnan spoke to The New York Times in November that year about events. He revealed that:
"I went to them and asked about making "Casino Royale," which is the first Ian Fleming book. I had hooked up with Quentin Tarantino, who wanted to direct the movie. On the fifth apple martini one evening, he mentioned "Casino Royale," which is the blueprint for the psyche of Bond, and I took that idea to the Broccoli family, who produce the Bond movies. They have a way of doing the films, and they are not open to discussion -- they threw my idea out the window."
Tarantino's attempt at filming Casino Royale did have an interesting legacy. In 2012 director Martin Campbell (who directed Goldeneye and the 2006 Casino Royale) revealed in an interview with the UK newspaper The Daily Express that upon Brosnan's exit Casino Royale wasn't the movie initially planned as the next Eon Bond film.
“Casino Royale was not going to be the next film. They were developing another script but then, after a long battle, the Broccolis [the family behind the Bond franchise] suddenly got the film rights to the first Bond novel Casino Royale, despite Quentin Tarantino bidding against them.

The script being developed was an original story in which James Bond isn’t the character we know today but someone younger and more screwed up. Pierce was getting on for 49 or something, and clearly too old to play the younger Bond so they decided to go in a different direction.”
Tarantino, for his part, remains bitter about events saying in a 2009 interview:
“The reason they did [the 2006] Casino Royale all comes down to me. I made it a point, I said I wanted to do Casino Royale. They were already on record as saying the movie was unfilmable but then after I said it and talked about it for a little bit — then the big thing on all the internets was that that was what all the fans wanted to see and so that’s when they said, ‘Oh, maybe it’s not so un-filmable.' Actually if I had done the film, I wouldn’t have done it with Daniel Craig, I would have done it with Pierce Brosnan.”

It's intriguing to imagine that the mid 2000s could have seen a repeat of 1983's “Battle Of The Bonds”. On one side could have been a Tarantino directed Casino Royale starring Brosnan going up against an Eon film starring Craig or another actor as Bond. What result would that have had for either actor as Bond? Would Brosnan's non-Eon outing have overshadowed a debut by Craig or another actor?

Like a many “what if?” it's a possibility that is now lost in the mists of time...

Matthew Kresal lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.

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