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Who is Barbara Broccoli – The Most Powerful Person in the James Bond Universe is a Woman
Ever since Daniel Craig said he’d rather slit his own wrists than do another James Bond movie—an eye-popping statement that sparked a debate about who should take over once Craig retires from the role—people have suggested that maybe, as odd as it might seem, a woman should play the world’s most famous spy. But the most powerful person in the James Bond universe is already a woman. And she’s decided a man should play 007.
“Bond is male,” Barbara Broccoli told The Guardian last year. “He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male. And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women. Let’s just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters.”
Broccoli heads up Eon Productions, the company that’s been making Bond films since Sean Connery first adopted the role in 1962’s Dr. No, and is the daughter of Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, the producer who bought the screen rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.
Roger Moore and Albert Broccoli at the 54th Annual Academy Awards in 1982. Broccoli had just received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, a top honor for film producers.
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For Broccoli, James Bond is the family business and she grew up surrounded by 007. One of her first memories is being on the set of 1967’s You Only Live Twice in Japan, she says in the book Movie Moguls Speak. And heading to Pinewood Studios, the now iconic facility where portions of the Bond films are filmed, was commonplace.
“As I child, I remember going to Pinewood Studios just outside London quite a lot. My sister and I used to go on Friday afternoons after school,” she says in the book. “Being in my father’s office was great, too, because I got to see him work first hand. So, I began my learning process of producing at a young age.”
Broccoli with Bond actor Pierce Brosnan in 2002.
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Bond was such a part of Broccoli’s upbringing that she thought he was a real person when she was a child. “Everyone was always talking about him,” she told Radio Times. “It was: ‘Bond’s coming’ or ‘Where’s Bond?’ He was like another member of the family and I kept expecting him to walk in.”
Broccoli and her stepbrother Michael G. Wilson took over the company from their father in 1995. Since then, Broccoli and Wilson have been in charge of each casting decision, along with every line of dialogue, stunt sequence, and advertisement, according to The New York Times.
Daniel Craig with Broccoli and her stepbrother Michael G. Wilson in 2005.
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Of course, the question of Bond’s casting has been hotly debated each time the role comes open. Only six actors have played the character over the past five decades. Broccoli and Wilson were the ones who brought in the relatively unknown Daniel Craig in 2005, which caused a media firestorm over the aesthetic differences between blond Craig and his brunette predecessors.
“The whole Internet thing kind of exploded,” Broccoli said in a 2014 interview with the Chicago Tribune. “Thank goodness, Daniel didn’t get rattled. We didn’t get rattled, and we just continued making the film. And it turned out to be a bloody good film, so everybody kind of shut up after that.”
Though she doesn’t think Bond should be played by a woman, Broccoli has had an important hand in how the women in the films are portrayed—and treated on-set.
“I think Bond has come through and transformed with the times,” she told the Guardian last year. “I’ve tried to do my part, and I think particularly with the Daniel [Craig] films, they’ve become much more current in terms of the way women are viewed.”
Recently, Broccoli has been a supporter of the Time’s Up movement, funding research into gender inequality, according to The Guardian.
Rosamund Pike, whose first major role was in the 2002 film Die Another Day, told Amazon’s Audible Sessions last year: “I look back over my experience on the Bond film and think, my goodness Barbara Broccoli was way ahead of all this #MeToo movement. There wasn’t an ounce of feeling uncomfortable while I was on that set.”
Rosamund Pike played Miranda Frost in “Die Another Day.”
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She’s now focused on the next Bond film, known as Bond 25 (because it’s the 25th 007 movie from Eon Productions), which has experienced a number of setbacks. In the last year, Broccoli has replaced the film’s original director, Danny Boyle, with Cary Joji Fukunaga, sidestepped reports about problems with the script, and pushed the release date to April 2020. The movie is expected to be Craig’s last as 007. Fans are devouring every clue Broccoli drops about the much-anticipated movie, which has been rumored to be called Shatterhand. But, according to fan site M16, Broccoli signed a fan-created Shatterhand poster and wrote “It’s not” pointing to the title, which people have interpreted as a hint about the film’s name.
Filming is expected to begin next month. For now, fans will have to sit and wait for more Broccoli clues about what will come next for 007.