When GOLDENEYE, the 17th James Bond film, premiered at New York’s Radio City Music Hall Nov. 13, 1995, it introduced Pierce Brosnan as the fifth actor to play 007, following Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore & Timothy Dalton.
While the screenplay was being written, the producers expected Dalton to be returning as Bond for the third time, so the writing’s tone matched Dalton’s darker more realistic approach to the character. However, quite unexpectedly, Dalton announced while shooting his 1994 mini-series SCARLETT that he was quitting as 007.
Dalton had signed to do three Bonds and already had two behind him — 1987’s THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS & 1989’s LICENCE TO KILL — when rights to the franchise became tied up in litigation that delayed for about five years production of what would have been Dalton’s third Bond episode. Dalton was okay with doing one more Bond film, but Bond’s founding co-producer Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli told him that after that lengthy production gap he’d need to keep playing the role for a while. Dalton refused, saying he didn’t want to play Bond for the rest of his life.
Dalton got the part when Roger Moore left after his seventh Bond outing in 1985’s A VIEW TO A KILL. When the producers first approached Dalton, he was busy doing theatre. They went to Brosnan, but he couldn’t get out of his TV deal for REMINGTON STEELE. So they tried Dalton again and this time he said he’d fit it in his tight schedule.
Before Brosnan was cast, reports said Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Sam Neill & others were under consideration. Brosnan was the last 007 that Broccoli cast in his Eon Productions franchise. GOLDENEYE was the first Bond movie not produced by Cubby as he’d stepped down and made his daughter, Barbara Broccoli, and stepson, Michael G. Wilson, the series’ new producers, which they still are today. Cubby consulted to Eon during production of GOLDENEYE, his final project before his death in 1996.
When Brosnan was presented in London to the media June 8, 1994, he didn’t look anything like Bond — with a full beard he’d grown for ROBINSON CRUSOE, which was starting production the next day.
GOLDENEYE also was the first Bond movie with Judi Dench playing MI6 chief “M.” It reportedly was Lois Maxwell, the iconic Miss Moneypenny in the Bonds from 1962-85, who’d suggested back in ’85 that “M” should be played by a woman. But what Maxwell had in mind was that she’d become the new “M” after getting a big promotion at MI6.
During production, Roger Moore turned up on set to visit his son, Christian Moore, who was GOLDENEYE’s uncredited third assistant director. The proud father joked as the crew greeted him that the producers had brought him back after looking at the first footage of Brosnan as Bond!