It was the first day of June 1994. And a lot of things happened the last eight years to Pierce Brosnan: he got many roles in action movies like John MacKenzie’s THE FOURTH PROTOCOL (1987, opposite Michael Caine), TAFFIN (1992, opposite Alison Doody) and the drama comedy MRS DOUBTFIRE (1993, opposite Robin Williams). But on the other side, and, in a more painful situation, he lost his wife Cassandra in 1991, who succumbed to ovarian cancer. She was, among other things, the girl who introduced him to Cubby Broccoli back in 1986. Bad luck he didn’t got it.
He must have been thinking in all the things he came through that day at his Malibu residence when the telephone rang at 12.35pm. It was his agent, Fred Spector. "Hello, Mr. Bond. You got the part”, he said. Of course, in these eight years another thing happened: LICENCE TO KILL, the second film starring Timothy Dalton as James Bond, wasn’t a big hit worldwide, with the press calling it “007’s final mission”. Also, a legal trouble between Danjaq and MGM/UA (taken over by a group of actionists) froze the return of 007 set for 1992 and Dalton, who couldn’t keep his other projects on hold, resigned to the role of James Bond. Once again, there were no hands to hold the Walther PPK handguns and many names where among the list. Many of them were really considered, like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes (who would become part of the Bond alumni almost 30 years later), others were heavily rumoured like Hugh Grant and Mel Gibson. But, of course, people would immediately think of the one who didn’t got the role then. Fate wanted him to get it now.
A big conference was held one week later, on Wednesday, June 8th, at the Regent Hotel in London. More than 300 media people were ready to cover the first step of the resurrection of James Bond: producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, heirs of the legacy of long-time producer Albert R Broccoli, were there. So was Martin Campbell, a New Zealand-born director with credits including TV’s EDGE OF DARKNESS and the futuristic flick NO ESCAPE, who was now in charge of the 17th James Bond film titled GOLDENEYE, just like Ian Fleming’s Jamaican house.
Brosnan, sporting an expensive dark suit and a grown hair and beard due to his upcoming shooting of the title role in ROBINSON CRUSOE, was nervous. “Stay cool, think of this as a celebration”, he tought. After all, every one of them were also new in a way: GOLDENEYE was the first Bond film Campbell would direct, and the first Wilson and Broccoli would produce.
“I was standing behind a screen and on the other side were the press if the world, waiting. I could hear the James Bond theme music had started…”, recalled Pierce when interviewed by author Garth Pearce in 1995.
“Ladies and gentleman, the new James Bond… Mr. Pierce Brosnan,” sounded the voice on the speakers. Applauses and shouts were heard: many of them for the return of Bond, and others, perhaps, for the justice given by the saying stating that all things come for those who wait. “Nothing could quite prepare me for the pandemonium once I came through. The glare of the lights, cameramen yelling ‘Pierce, Pierce, Pierce…’ It’s like everyone wants a piece of you,” he remembers.
The press conference went on with lots of interviews from journalists from all over the world, many of them asking about Brosnan’s portrayal on the character and what he will bring to it. His answers were that Bond was still a ladies’ man, but also a killer, and that he’ll try to “see what is beneath the surface of this man, what makes him a killer”.
The next day, Pierce Brosnan was in Papua New Guinea shooting ROBINSON CRUSOE, playing Daniel Defoe’s famous castaway. A group of children came to the set, pointing at him and recognized him as the new 007. “Here was I, in the middle of nowhere, being recognized as Bond. (…) At that moment, any lingering doubts I had that GOLDENEYE was just another film left me completely.”
Indeed, from that day on, the Walther PPK found a new owner: Pierce Brosnan was now James Bond.