1. Originally The Living Daylights was proposed a s prequel to the James Bond series. Screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson wrote several treatments in which a twenty-something James Bond teams up with a senior agent named Burton Trevor on a mission to infiltrate the jungle compound of a Chinese warlord named Kwang. Trevor would die helping Bond escape, Bond would hunt down and kill Kwang and subsequently be promoted to the Double-0 section, taking Trevor's old number "007".
However, after two full-length treatments, producer Albert R. Broccoli vetoed the idea arguing that audiences were more interested in who James Bond is rather than who he was.
Almost 20 years later the Bond origin idea was (partially) resurrected for Casino Royale in which Bond is shown shortly after being promoted to Double-0.
2. After Roger Moore finally vacating the part many actors were considered for the role of the Fourth big screen James Bond. Antony Hamilton, who had starred in the recently cancelled television series Cover Up was a contender, Neil Dickson, Simon MacCorkindale and Mark Greenstreet (who would go on to play Ikona in the 1987 Doctor Who serial Time and the Rani) screen tested. None of them were offered the role.
Sam Neill really impressed co-producer Michael G. Wilson, director John Glen, and Dana and Barbara Broccoli, but 'Cubby' Broccoli vetoed the New Zealander. And whilst we're Down Under, there must be something about Australians (hello Mr Lazenby) as three of them were under consideration for the role, including Andrew Clarke, who would go on to take the starring role as sleuth Simon Templar in The Saint in Manhattan in 1987.
In director John Glen's book For My Eyes Only he states that Australian model Finlay Light impressed in his screen-test and was a contender for a period of time. The Gainesville Sun and the British newspaper The Mail On Sunday ran a story saying he'd signed a 10 year contract, but that has never been confirmed anywhere else.
One other Antipodean contender was Mel Gibson! It seems MGM were keen on Gibson playing the spy, and former Bond Sean Connery even weighed in saying he backed Gibson for the part, going as far as saying he'd be up for playing M opposite Gibson's Bond. But Gibson himself was not interested and ruled himself out at fear of being typecast.
So there were three Australians circling the role of the world's most famous British spy, and, bizarrely, one Frenchman! Christopher Lambert, who previously played a Scotsman in Highlander opposite Scottish born Connery who was playing a Spaniard (!), was screen tested for the part but, unsurprisingly, was vetoed largely down to his accent.
After a long and extensive search it looked like the role of James Bond 007 would go to either Irish-born Pierce Brosnan or Welshman Timothy Dalton. The producers made their decision and offered the role to...
3. ...Pierce Brosnan.
Brosnan was offered the part after a three-day screen-test! At the time, he was contracted to the television show Remington Steele which had been cancelled by the NBC network due to falling ratings. However, the announcement that he had been chosen to play James Bond caused a surge in interest in the series, which led to NBC exercising (less than three days prior to expiry) a 60-day option in Brosnan's contract to make a further season of the show.
NBC's action caused drastic repercussions, as a result of which Albert Broccoli withdrew the offer given to Brosnan, citing that he did not want the character of Bond associated with a contemporary TV series. This led to a drop in interest in Remington Steele, and only five new episodes were filmed before the show was finally cancelled.
Whatever happened to Pierce Brosnan, eh?
4. Timothy Dalton had long been linked with the role of Bond, in fact even as far back as 1968, but he had publicly said that he wasn't interested in the part, and this was something which didn't sit well with Albert Broccoli. However, Broccoli's wife, Dana, urged 'Cubby' to meet the actor and he was impressed. Dalton too was interested, especially after discovering there would be a new grittier direction for the series, but unfortunately he was unavailable to commit as he'd just signed a contract for the movie Brenda Starr.
The Pierce Brosnan/Remington Steele saga pushed production back, meaning Dalton had completied his filming commitments to Brenda Starr and so was offered the role, which he accepted. However, for a period of time after verbally accepting Dalton did not sign his contract, so one of the casting directors persuaded Robert Bathurst, (known for his roles in Joking Apart, Cold Feet, Downton Abbey and Toast of London) to audition for Bond.
It seems Bathurst knew Bond wasn't to be his...
"Oh, that was such a ludicrous audition. I could never have done it - Bond actors are always very different to me. But some casting director persuaded me to go. The thing was, they already had Timothy Dalton. But I think he hadn’t signed yet so they wanted to tell him, ‘They’re still seeing people, you know,’ to put pressure on him to sign. I was just an arm-twisting exercise."5. English born actress and former model Maryam d'Abo had already come close to playing a Bond Girl. Back in 1984 she had auditioned for the role of Russian spy Pola Ivanova in A View to a Kill and Barbara Broccoli had been very impressed with her. However, at that time the role went to Fiona Fullerton, but when it came time to cast a new Bond Broccoli contacted d'Abo and asked her to read opposite several of the contenders.
Noting her rapport with Brosnan especially, d'Abo was given the chance to audition for the part of Czechoslovakian cellist Kara Milovy. A role she won whilst Brosnan was still 007, albeit briefly, and retained after Dalton was cast.
6. Joe Don Baker plays Brad Whitaker, an American arms dealer and self-styled general. He would later go on to play CIA Agent Jack Wade in both GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Along with Charles Gray and Walter Gotell, Baker is one of only three actors to play separate roles in the Bond films as both an adversary and an ally of 007.
7. During production on The Living Daylights, Prince Charles and Lady Diana were given a tour of the studio. The rocket fired from the "ghetto blaster" in Q's lab was an effect activated off-screen by Prince Charles, and this was the take used in the final cut of the film. The Royal visit also instigated the famous footage of Princess Diana hitting her husband over the head with a breakaway bottle...
8. The Cello Case Chase sequence down the snow took three days to shoot, partially because the case would tend to topple over as Timothy Dalton was heavier than Maryam d'Abo.
The cello case itself was specially made of fibreglass and fitted with control handles on the sides and skis underneath.
The sequence was the brainchild of director John Glen who had to convince doubting colleagues Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson and Albert R. Broccoli. He did this by hopping into an actual orchestral cello case himself.
9. In a departure from previous Bond films, The Living Daylights was the first to use different songs over the opening and end credits. The song heard over the end credits, "If There Was a Man", was one of two songs performed for the film by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. The other song, "Where Has Everybody Gone", is heard from Necros's Walkman in the film.
The Pretenders were actually originally considered to perform Daylights' title song. However, the producers had been pleased with the commercial success of Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill", and felt that Norwegian pop-group A-ha would be more likely to make an impact on the charts.
The title song of the film, "The Living Daylights", was co-written by A-ha's Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and John Barry, in what would be his final Bond soundtrack. The group and Barry did not collaborate well, resulting in two versions of the theme song. Barry's film mix is heard on the soundtrack (and on A-ha's later greatest hits album Headlines and Deadlines). The version preferred by the band can be heard on the 1988 A-ha album Stay on These Roads. However, in 2006 Paul Waaktaar-Savoy complimented Barry's contributions:
"I loved the stuff he added to the track, I mean it gave it this really cool string arrangement. That's when for me it started to sound like a Bond thing".A-ha's lead singer Morten Harket was offered a small role as a villain's henchman in the film, but declined, because of lack of time and because he felt the producers only wanted to cast him due to his popularity rather than his acting.
Which was very likely true!
10. The Living Daylights was a huge success, grossing $191.2 million worldwide, the highest take for a Bond film since For Your Eyes Only.
Around the world the film went by some strange names! The literal translations of some of the foreign language titles include Spies Die At Dawn (Denmark); 007: High Tension (Spain & Portugal); Death Is Not A Game / To Kill Is Not To Play (France); 007 And The Danger Zone (Finland); Icecold Mission (Sweden); Facing Death (Poland); His Name Is Danger (Chile); The Skin Of A Corpse (Germany); 007 In The Dangerous Zone (Israel/Hebrew); 007 Marked to Die (Brazil); In The Line Of Fire (Norway); Having The Finger On The Trigger (Greece) and, my favourite, Breath of Death (Croatia).
Breath of Death? Better pass Dalton a mint!
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