James Bond Producer "Cubby" Broccoli, the Veteran filmmaker behind the 007 odysseys contemplates his career in the service of James Bond in this vintage interview with Starlog Magazine from 1985.
Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli
BY ADAM PIRANI
In a rare interview, the man behind James Bond reveals a few of the secrets of the screen’s superspy.
My only goal is to prepare Bond so that he can go on interminably, which I think he will—if they make him right,” says producer Albert R. Broccoli, known universally as “Cubby.” A View To A Kill is the latest production from the man who ! has spent the last 23 years of his life making James Bond movies. With a core production team that now remains almost unchanged from movie to movie, Broccoli has produced 14 cinematic episodes in the career of British secret service agent 007.
“I want to make other films, too, and I hope to in between Bond,” says Broccoli. ‘I’ve tried to make another film in between the Bonds, but Bond takes most of our time, and we want to do it properly. We don’t sacrifice anything that would get in the way of making a good Bond film. We have quite a few people now, and we could probably get a • non-Bond film started; we’ve been looking for the right subject matter. But every time i something right comes up, something else I comes up against it, so we put it away, and say we’ll make it another time. But we have some subjects we’re looking at that we hope to make either day and date with Bond, or in between Bond.”
Despite having already produced the most successful movie series of all time—more than one-and-a-half billion people worldwide have seen the Bond films—Broccoli is still looking to the future. Sitting in a New York City office of MGM/UA, the film studio which finances the Bond movies, the producer is keen to set the record straight. ‘ ‘People are writing to me saying that they hear rumors that I’m not going to make any more films,” he says. “That’s nonsense, because I’ll be making films until I breathe my last gasp, if I can—my enthusiasm is there.” Broccoli has firm ideas about 007’s future.
‘ ‘I think we’ll continue to keep the films as we have done, because there’s no sense in ex- ~ changing success for something with a big question mark in it,” the producer says. “We’ll continue to make them. We’ll find ways to continue to make them, and make them successful.
“I think we’re very lucky—aside from the fact that my team does a tremendous job of making the Bond movies; all the people who work with us, all the way through the production, have contributed so highly that you can’t separate who has done what. We’re thankful for Bond’s popularity, and the continuing youth audience that wants to see Bond. They know about the old Bonds from television, and now they continue to watch what we’re doing and wonder where we’re going.”
Broccoli has no pretensions about the type of movies he makes, or the spirit in which audiences view them. “They’re not looking for us to win any Academy Awards—although I did win the highest award you can get, the Irving Thalberg Award [a special Oscar for “continued production excellence”] which I’m very, very grateful for—but a Bond audience isn’t going to see an Academy Award picture, they’re going to see excitement,” Broccoli explains. “They may go to see Academy Award pictures or not, but they are looking for the kind of film we make. They’ve made that very clear to us, time and again, by the box office receipts, and by Bond’s popularity.
‘ ‘The thing that’s interesting about Bond is we’ve used different directors, different art directors, different producers, different stars and it still goes on. There must be something that we’re doing, or something the good Lord is doing, to keep it going, because it hasn’t altered in popularity. Sure, one may be a little more successful than the other, but even the film with George Lazenby [On Her Majesty’s Secret Service], which some people may decry, was a successful film.
“It’s incredible the number of people who are writing to us, and writing to me as well— I answer all of the letters from these young kids that I can. They also write in for photographs, and I have to be prepared to send them.
‘ ‘The main thing that they write and say is, ‘Please keep making the Bond films.’ I’m sure it’s the same thing with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. They must get plenty of requests saying, ‘Please keep making the same films you’re making,’ because they’re popular—it’s because Spielberg and Lucas are very innovative. They’re very creative in their work, as we try to be.”
Broccoli is reminded of the story that the first discussions of Raiders of the Lost Ark came about when Spielberg told Lucas he would like to make a James Bond film. “Yes, he did, he said that,” affirms Broccoli. Lucas’ response was to offer Spielberg an equally interesting hero: Indiana Jones. “I would like Steven to make a James Bond film, too, but I think we could be overcontributing our resources. I admire Steven Spielberg and George Lucas very much, and we talk occasionally—just recently with Steven. He’s very good, there’s no question about it.”
Photos: “James Bond Is a British secret service agent,” Broccoli notes, “and we’ve tried to keep him that way” with actors Roger Moore, George Lazenby and Sean Connery lending their talents to the role.
One question Broccoli is constantly faced with: will Roger Moore, veteran of seven 007 adventures, return again as the superspy? “If it’s possible,” is the producer’s cautious answer. “I won’t commit myself to anything right now, because when you make a commitment to the press about what your intentions are, the ears of the various agents perk up and dreams of empire fill their eyes. I’m not committing to anything.”
Nonetheless, Broccoli is convinced that Moore is appropriate for the role. “If you look at him, in person or on the screen, he certainly is very suitable. He seems to improve—if you want to say improve with age, yes: he has improved. Whether Roger will want to return or not, that I can’t answer. I don’t know.”
A hypothetical new Bond, however, would definitely share one characteristic with his 007 predecessors. “Bond is, of course, a British secret service agent, and we’ve tried to keep him that way,” says Broccoli. “There might be other young actors who may be qualified— American actors; but every time we’ve thought about that, we’ve discouraged ourselves, because we feel instinctively that Bond should be played by a British actor. Sean Connery was a Scotsman. Roger is English. Even the Australian that we had was quite good; George Lazenby could have been a good Bond.”
Not a new Bond succeeding an old one, but Bond vs. Bond was the scenario in 1983 with Never Say Never Again, a rival 007 adventure starring Sean Connery. Produced out of a contractual loophole and technically a remake of 1965’s Thunderball, the Connery vehicle was released in the same year as Broccoli’s Octopussy starring Roger Moore. “There has been competition that has tried to come in and sweep away the success we’ve had by making another film which they felt was ‘like’—unlike as far as I’m concerned—our Bond,” Broccoli says. “It was proven that they didn’t do the job properly, because we outgrossed them wherever we went, with the one slight exception of Italy.” Octopussy was also the highest grossing Bond film worldwide before A View To A Kill. Speaking before View’s release, Broccoli is candid about the new film. “Let’s face it, there is a sameness about James Bond that you can’t escape, and there are certain threads that continue to keep Bond going,” he explains. “I think this is a good one. I’m not going to prognosticate whether it’s better, whether it’s going to be better financially, or whether the critique will be any better, because you never know about that. But /like it. To me, it’s among the tops of my own consumption, but I’ll wait to see what the public
thinks—they’re the ones that we rely on to give us the answer.”
Broccoli is sharing producer credit on A View To A Kill with Michael G. Wilson. The son of Broccoli’s wife Dana by a previous marriage, Wilson was executive producer of Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy. He has also co-written all the Bonds since For Your Eyes Only. “I brought Michael into the Bond pictures. He came in a very eager young man, quite knowledgeable about various aspects of the film business,” says Broccoli. ‘ ‘He learns rapidly, and I think he’s probably now technically more informed than I am in certain matters.
“I’ve also had him work as a writer. My wife—his mother—is a writer, and very little has ever been said about her contribution to the Bond films, because she’s never taken a credit of any kind. Nor have I, as far as that goes, on the writing aspects since we first started. Even Harry Saltzman, when we were partners [Broccoli and Saltzman produced all the Bonds up to The Man with the Golden Gun together], also contributed his ideas, I contributed mine, and we never took any credits. But—without trying to be egotistical — we have contributed tremendously to the pictures’ story quality. Dana and I have worked on the stories: when you get ideas at home, you bring them into the office. But she doesn’t like to be quoted as being a writer, because there are more writers that contribute the story’s final parts. Michael has come into his own now as a Bond writer, and I’m sure
that he can write other things, too.”
Photo: Broccoli poses with a bevy of Bond beauties: the circus performers from Octopussy.
Octopussy PHOTO: COPYRIGHT 1982 DANJAQ S.A.
Broccoli originally lived in Long Island, but his film career began when he moved to the West Coast. His first production experience came as assistant director on Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw. After World WarII, he set up an actors’ agency, then moved to England in 1950 to make films there. In 1962, Broccoli, who could arrange the financing, partnered with Saltzman, who had the rights, to make the first 007 adventure, Dr. No.
The experience of producing the early films was enhanced for Broccoli by his involvement with the series’ original author, Bond creator Ian Fleming. “Working with Ian Fleming when he was alive was a joy,” the producer recalls. “Fleming was a delight. He died before he could see Goldfinger, which was a pity. But he was happy about what had happened up till then.”
Though Bond movies have been in continual production since Dr. No, Broccoli had no idea 23 years ago that the 007 phenomenon would keep him so busy. “All producers or directors select a property, and they like it,” he says. “They also like to think that it’s going to be a big success. We have plenty of optimism when we make a film, whatever it is. I’ve made many films with various people like Alan Ladd, the old boys of yesteryear like Victor Mature and Richard Widmark, Rita Hayworth, Jack Lemmon and Robert Mitchum and all of these champions who are still playing on the screen.”
Producing a series of movies with a guaranteed worldwide audience has placed Broccoli in a powerful position to ‘ ‘make’ ’ an actor’s career. “We have discovered people as we went along who were made—if not stars—very popular,” he says. “A couple of people whom I won’t mention, who were looking for jobs when they had wrinkles in their belly, became successful in our films—and then went on to talk about Bond as though Bond was harmful to them. Bond wasn’t harmful to any of them: it brought them out in front and kept them there. But that’s what happens in this business—people forget where the success comes from, the same way I can’t forget—the success comes from people giving you an opportunity.” Broccoli still enjoys those earlier Bond adventures. “I love looking at the old Bond films,” he says. “Maybe it’s purely out of reminiscence, the nostalgic things you think about. But there were some very good films made, and I think that the public has enjoyed them, too.” However, he says naming a favorite Bond movie would be like choosing a favorite from among your children. “All your kids are good, they all worked, they all served a purpose, and they’re all trying,” he explains. “So, I can’t really put my finger on a favorite. They were all good, as far as I’m concerned: they helped keep us going.”
Indeed, “keeping going” is Broccoli’s favorite aspect of the Bond phenomenon. “To be quite honest,” he states, “the thing that gives me the most satisfaction is the financial success, which leads to making more Bond films—or other movies for that matter. Without the success of Bond, who knows? We could make these films on our own financially, without any person or distributor contributing, if we had to do so. We could finance it ourselves and make them ourselves. But we do have a contract, which is a long-standing contract, with United Artists, which we signed when we were not too well-known and not well understood, so to speak, in the way of making pictures, so we relinquished many things then that we wouldn’t have done normally. We are, I believe, contractually bound to make films for this same distributor.
“So, the financial success has been very important to us. Plus the fact that we have a following, which very few films or series of films have. The other ones are, of course, the very successful Steven Spielberg and George Lucas films which are tremendous, but even then, I suspect—and only suspect, I’m not making any accusations—that they copied a pattern we have, after our success, with their films.
“But I still get a kick out of seeing the success of other people who make films, like Spielberg and Lucas. I get a kick out of seeing the lines of ticket buyers standing there. Because that’s our business, and if we didn’t have that success with other films, we would all deteriorate. I’m very happy to see Romancing the Stone, for instance, come out and do nice big business. They’re different than we are, but they breathe a success into the whole industry which is what we need, because we’ve had a bad batch of films which weren’t successful.”
With A View To A Kill in release, Broccoli is already at work on a new Bond film. ‘ ‘As one goes to premiere, we start preparing the next Bond,” he says. “We’re preparing it. If the distributor wants to go ahead and make it— and I have a suspicion that he does—another Bond will be made.” The title? “We have several in mind, we haven’t decided yet which one it’ll be.” The story? “We have some ideas—only in principle, and plot-wise.”
It’s clear that even after an extraordinary production career, Broccoli is still active. He doesn’t plan on retiring, he doesn’t intend to sit back and pen his autobiography, and he certainly isn’t going to stop making movies. At age 76, Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli is working towards yet another goal: for James Bond to go on forever.
Photo: Will Roger Moore return again as 007? Broccoli says “if it’s possible” but there are no commitments from anyone.
Also of note in this issue is a small entry in the Fan Network section about somebody spotting the recurring role of the drunk man who keeps running into Bond around the world. (a full set of James Bond Videos had finally been released in 1985, so for the first time it was possible to watch all the James Bond films at home. Seeing the films 2-3 years apart at the cinema, it was easy to miss connections like this):
The Powers of Observation: A bit of in-joke casting has been spotted by David Buckley, of Maryland, who must have been watching a festival of James Bond movies to notice a cameo appearance by the same background actor in three different films. “In The Spy Who Loved Me, he was sitting on the beach with a bottle gaping as Bond drove his Lotus onto the sand,” explains Buckley. “In Moonraker, he was gaping at Bond steering a Gondola in Venice, and again, he had a bottle. In For Your Eyes Only, he was staring at Bond after 007’s ski jump over several people’s dinner. That time, he had only a wine glass—reduced liquor due to doctor’s orders, no doubt. Who is this guy, somebody’s brother or what?” We don’t know, but we would like to know if you’ve seen him in Octopussy or the latest Bond release. If you’ve spied this mysterious actor again, it means you truly do have a A View To A Kill.
[Source: Starlog #99, October 1985, P59-62, 20. Copyright © 1985 O'Quinn Studios, Inc. All rights reserved. Starlog is a registered trademark of O'Quinn Studios, Inc.]