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She grew up in the family that launched the James Bond franchise and she is now in charge of its future. But the first question for every new 007 film is the same, as Barbara Broccoli tells Andrew L. Urban (while revealing she has slept in Sean Connery’s bed).

Barbara Broccoli, producer of the Bond films, has revealed to Urban Cinefile that she has slept in Sean Connery’s bed; it was on a small Japanese island, during the making of You Only Live Twice. It was 1967, Broccoli was 7 and she had fallen ill. When Connery heard she was sick, he offered to give up his bed for her – it was the only Western bed on the island. Everyone else had traditional Japanese floor mats to sleep on. His gallantry has remained with her ever since.

But then Connery – and more particularly James Bond – has always “loomed large” in her life, as she says during a Sydney interview on a soggy spring morning at the InterContinental Hotel. Broccoli’s legs are crossed and tucked under her as she faces Sydney harbour – or what’s visible of it through the overcast shroud of rain and mist - wearing black pants and black top with muted geographic patterns on the shoulders. 

"a life of Bonding"

Her long straight brown hair frames her face, and she often leans forward as we talk, making eye contact and speaking freely and fluently about a life of Bonding.

“When I was small I thought James Bond was a real person – it was the centre of attention at home and dad (Cubby) was always so passionate about his work. He was totally consumed by it. But he was generous about letting the family into this world. Instead of going on vacation, we’d go on location,” she says with a smile.

“He always encouraged us to have a sense of ownership of James Bond and he was always very protective of the work, through all the turmoil we went through …which has been well documented.”

'don’t let temporary people make permanent decisions'

Broccoli refers to the (excellent) feature length documentary completed in the wake of Skyfall, Everything Or Nothing (EON, the name of Broccoli and Satlzman’s production company) which catalogues the story of the Broccoli family’s upheavals with the franchise, from the move away from United Artists through Transamerica and MGM … “it got tied to the corporate world. But he (Cubby) was always insistent that we make all the decisions – even if they’re the wrong ones. He used to say ‘don’t let temporary people make permanent decisions’.” (Cubby Broccoli died in June 1996, aged 87.)

Barbara and long time co-producer Michael G. Wilson now jointly produce the Bond films through EON and they have a formula when planning each new Bond film. “Even before we select a director, we start with two questions: 1 – what is the world afraid of – and then create a villain who embodies that threat. 2 – what is the personal challenge that we want to put Bond through.

“We’ll hire the writers and come up with a story … usually a pretty good first draft.”

In the case of Skyfall, the choice of director came partly chance: “Daniel Craig had worked with Sam Mendes before (Road to Perdition, 2002) and one day they were at a party together during our preproduction period and Craig mentioned it … Sam was interested and we got together …”

"one unbreakable rule"

Broccoli is calm and composed but she is clearly deeply immersed in and passionate about the Bond ‘factory’. She says “the one unbreakable rule is that he is incorruptible; he never does anything for personal gain. But we do like to test his character,” she adds.

Skyfall is especially important to the franchise, coming on its 50th anniversary. “We wanted to honour the original team, from Fleming through to the filmmakers who set it all in motion, the music, the design, creating a new style of editing, amongst other things, and all the iconic elements. That first introduction of the character at a casino gaming table, with a beautiful woman in the shot, the slow reveal of the man next to her as she asks his name, and then the iconic music sting as he utters those three words: Bond … James Bond; it’s a masterclass in cinema.”

"Daniel has agreed to do at least two more... "

The future is uncharted, but Broccoli says she intends to continue, “and Daniel has agreed to do at least two more…”

In Skyfall, the threat is not from a megalomaniac bent on global domination; it’s from a vengeful, unscrupulous, amoral, damaged but resourceful and capable adversary who has the technological skills to do almost anything he wants – just by clicking on his laptop.

What will the world fear next? 

Published November 22, 2012

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Barbara Broccoli, Producer


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