Director talks how he found out Bill Clinton was a Bond fan, and how Skyfall director Sam Mendes questioned Daniel Craig as 007.
“The name is Clinton…Bill Clinton.” When he was in the White House, US President Bill Clinton spent his spare time watching James Bond movies. The man from Little Rock thought that Pierce Brosnan was the “perfect” Bond for the transition from the Cold War to a new era in geo-politics. He also credited Bond creator Ian Fleming with having the foresight, long before 9/11, to realize that “non-state agencies could destabilize the world.”
The revelations about Clinton’s passion for James Bond are contained in Everything Or Nothing, a new documentary from director Stevan Riley to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bond series. Clinton recorded a special interview for the documentary, which was produced by Passion Pictures and Red Box Films.
Clinton is one of many politicians known to be big Bond fans, among them US Presidents John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan and current UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
“I found it fascinating realizing that these premiers and heads of state are Bond fans,” Riley commented. “Clinton in particular was a massive Bond fan, and unashamed. He told me he had watched all the films.”
Riley discovered Clinton’s enthusiasm for Bond from an old university friend, the actress (and former Bond villainess) Rosamund Pike. “She had a connection with Chelsea Clinton. I had heard a rumour he (Bill Clinton) was a Bond fan and then it was a case of verifying that. We found somebody who was part of his campaign team and they confirmed it.”
The documentary features contributions from past and present Bonds with the exception of Sir Sean Connery, who turned down repeated requests for interviews.
“I was very keen to get Sean. Let’s face it, Sean is everybody’s favourite Bond, including my own,” Riley commented. “I made several petitions…really urging him to participate, saying I am trying to do something very serious here, a legacy piece. Sean still declined. That’s clearly his prerogative.”
Riley describes his film as a “survival story.” As he chronicles, there were many, many instances during the last 50 years when the Bond series came close to being derailed.
The director paid tribute to Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson for allowing him to tell the unvarnished story of Bond. The documentary chronicles in detail the rupture in relations between Connery and the series’ original producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. It also tells the story of the epic legal battles between Thunderball producer Kevin McClory and Ian Fleming, and then those between McClory and Broccoli and Saltzman.
George Lazenby speaks very candidly about why he was sacked as Bond after only one film while Pierce Brosnan reveals how an abrupt telephone call ended his four film stint as Bond.
Other interviewees include Christopher Lee, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, Skyfall director Sam Mendes (who acknowledges he initially thought Daniel Craig was totally wrong for Bond), Maud Adams, Judy Geeson and John Pearson.
The film receives its premiere in New York in early October. It is shown at the Dinard Festival and will be given a theatrical release on October 5 by Odeon as part of Global James Bond day.
Riley (whose previous credits include Blue Blood and Fire In Babylon) is planning to make the leap into dramatic features. Meanwhile, he is also working on another feature doc with Passion Pictures, about leading Spanish bullfighter, Cayetano Ordonez.