My Day Hanging Out With James Bond: Visiting the Set of 'GoldenEye' (EXCLUSIVE)

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James Bond wielded the knife with obvious skill. He approached, blade barely glinting in the light, and pounced, the knife coming down to join the awaiting fork. "I usually eat fruit," he said simply, "but today I'm in the mood for a good English breakfast." And with that, he began his meal.

Okay, so it's not stopping arch-nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld from triggering World War III, or preventing Auric Goldfinger from turning the gold in Fort Knox radioactive, but it was my experience with agent 007 back in 1994. At the time, I was Senior Editor at Cinescape and somehow we ended up with the rights to do the magazine on the making of the 17th James Bond movie — and the first one to star Pierce BrosnanGoldenEye. Even more incredibly, I was the guy chosen to fly to England to spend a few days on the set at Leavesden Studios, later to be home to the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace and home base for the Harry Potter films.

(Photo Credit: Courtesy Ed Gross)

You have to understand, for a guy who grew up on the Bond films (I'm reluctant to admit that I can clearly remember seeing the fourth film Thunderball during its original theatrical run when I was a wee lad of five), having breakfast with Pierce Brosnan, the new James Bond, on the set of the latest 007 epic was pretty heady stuff.

It actually wasn't the first time I'd spoken to the actor about James Bond. Back in 1986, while he was promoting his first starring role in a feature film, Nomads, there were rumblings aplenty that he would be offered the role as Roger Moore had wrapped up his time with the character.

"There's no truth," he responded. "I've never been asked to play James Bond. Next question is, would I like to play James Bond? Well, I suppose I would like to have a crack, yes, but it hasn’t been a lifetime ambition to play James Bond. But the last year-and-a-half I wish they would make up their minds one way or another, either cast somebody else or go ahead and offer me the damn part, because not a day goes by now without someone saying, 'You're going to make a great James Bond.' 'When are you playing James Bond?' 'We hear you're playing James Bond.' But no one has ever come to me and said, 'Pierce my dear boy, we'd like you to play Jimmy Bond.' And so that may knock the rumor on its head, but I've said that before and the rumor seems to keep going 'round."

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For the record, he would be offered the role shortly thereafter, and signed, but released from his contract when NBC screwed him over by renewing his canceled series, Remington Steele, at the last possible moment, hoping to cash in on the Bond film's popularity. The Bond people were having none of that, so Pierce was set free and Timothy Dalton took on the part in 1987's The Living Daylights.

In any case, I sat there with Pierce in his trailer for about 30 minutes, barely concealing my excitement as I hit him with what I wanted to be riveting questions. Instead, I came out with the most obvious one you could imagine: "So, how does it feel to finally say for the camera, 'My name is Bond. James Bond'"?

"I suppose," he replied between bites of his breakfast, "it's like it would be for any guy in a play. It's not quite on par with Shakespeare, but nevertheless, it is known by the man in the street. The whole world knows it. Perhaps more than 'To be or not to be...' Yes, I find myself brushing my teeth in the morning, kind of mumbling the lines. Of course, I do. I just practice it, I say it and I crack myself up. It's quite funny, just a breath away from parody, really. I just kept it as simple as possible because I'm very aware that the audience is waiting for me to say it, so I share the moment with them."

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I also mentioned that the impression I have is that his Bond will be a hybrid of Sean Connery and Roger Moore's, humor coupled with ruthlessness.

"I agree with that," he said, hopefully not noticing how cool I think it was that James Bond agreed with my theory. "It really should be pointed out that Roger made the part his own. There's a generation out there that was brought up only with Roger. They didn't know who the hell Sean Connery was, and Roger's films did make a lot of money. First impressions, of course, were Sean. There will be people who accept me and those who say, 'He's not Roger. He's not Sean.'..."

"He's not George Lazenby," I piped in, being a wise guy regarding the actor who had a one-shot as 007 in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

"Right," Brosnan laughed, "he's not George Lazenby."

Things went on from there.

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Later, special effects supervisor Derek Meddings took me around the area, explaining and demonstrating the virtues of using models over computer effects, giving me a tour of miniature buildings, including the nerve gas facility that will open the film. In mid-sentence, though, Meddings paused, a look of concern crossing his face.

"Oh, dear," he said in his natural British tongue, "you seem to have burst your zipper."

I looked down and, sure enough, the zipper on my jeans had snapped off, revealing my underpants. I immediately looked up, embarrassed, and commented, "My wife told me I'd be so excited something like this would happen."

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He seemed to enjoy that one as we proceeded to the newly-added next stop, the costume department, where James Bond's costume designer pinned me up. Hey, can you say you were pinned up by James Bond's costume designer?

The following day, I sat down with producer Michael Wilson, who asked me if I wanted to watch the first teaser trailer for the film. Mikey, are you friggin' kidding me? (I didn't actually say that, but I thought it). He brought me into his office and played the trailer that wouldn't be hitting theater screens for another month or so. Needless to say, I was pretty blown away by the fact that Bond was back....big time!

Between takes, I interviewed director Martin Campbell, director of photography Phil Meheux, leading lady Izabella Scorupco, and various behind-the-scenes personnel about the film and Bond's place in the modern world of the mid-90s.

Through it all, I was no doubt smiling like a kid in Q's workshop (the place where Bond gets all of his out-of-this-world gadgets).

So, how did I think Brosnan would rate as Bond? From watching him in action, I felt confident saying that his was the first of the successor 007s to suggest the magic of Sean Connery — which is not to denigrate the efforts of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton or even, yes, George Lazenby, each of whom brought a different spin to the role. The classic Goldfinger was the first film the then-adolescent Brosnan ever saw in a theater, and Connery was one of his early heroes. Not only that, the Irish actor also shared many of the same qualities that Connery brought to the role.

Over the course of the few days on the set in England, I managed to travel quite a bit of the globe with the new Mr. Bond. We began in Cuba, at the brim of a secret satellite dish that the film's villain intended to use to destroy civilization. From there it was about a five-minute walk to St. Petersberg, Russia, where the bad guys were fleeing in a car, with Bond chasing them in a state-of-the-art tank(!).

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That's about where I left 007 — after watching Bond zoom through Russia, I had to catch a cab to Heathrow Airport for my return flight to the United States. But as a parting shot, if you will, through the side window of the cab I was treated to the sight of an explosion in their version of St. Petersberg, and one thought instantly flashed through my mind: I had survived my tour of James Bond's world.

Shaken, perhaps, but not stirred.

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