Bana the Next Bond?
Will the next 007 be Bana, Eric Bana?
If you believe Britain’s News of the World newspaper, the Aussie actor is the top pick of producers to succeed Pierce Brosnan as the martini-swilling superspy.
Bana, best known in the U.S. for his starring roles in last year’s The Hulk and this summer’s Troy, is reportedly in negotiations to star in the 21st James Bond film, slated to begin shooting this year.
“Eric is the guy they want, but he has a reputation for being demanding,” the tabloid quotes an unnamed insider privy to the talks. “[Producers] want to modernize Bond and turn him into a youthful, suave and modern hero to compete with the likes of Spider-Man and Keanu [Reeves] in the Matrix.”
The Bana-as-Bond headline got huge play over the weekend, making headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. But while the News of the World has stood by its story, MGM spokesman Eric Kops would only say Monday that the story “is not true.” He declined further comment.
MGM, which distributes the Bond films, and Britain’s Eon Productions, which produces the flicks, have traditionally been tight-lipped about the franchise, refusing to address speculation on the films until the publicity machine was ready to crank.
If the story pans out, Bana would become the sixth actor to play the gadget-loving, babe-bedding secret agent, following in the footsteps of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Brosnan–and the second to hail from Down Under after George Lazenby (which may not be a good thing, since Lazenby’s stint lasted only one film).
Until Sunday’s story, Bana’s name wasn’t among those in the mix for the new Bond. Instead, the producers’ short-list was said to include Clive Owen, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom and little-known Scottish actor Gerald Butler, who actually had a bit part in the 1997 Bond caper Tomorrow Never Dies.
Although Brosnan’s Bond days have reportedly been numbered for some time, the rumor mill went into overdrive last week after the 51-year-old actor told Entertainment Weekly that he was done.
“That’s it. I’ve said all I’ve got to say on the world of James Bond,” the Irish-born thespian told EW. “Bond is another lifetime behind me.”
Of course, a Bond should never say never again.
Some believe that Brosnan is merely bluffing for a bigger paycheck. His publicist has yet to confirm that Brosnan is done Bonding and didn’t comment on the Bana report.
Although producers supposedly want to go younger, Brosnan’s Bond was the most lucrative. His four 007 films–1995’s Goldeneye, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, 1999’s The World Is Not Enough and 2002’s Die Another Day–have grossed a combined $1.4 billion in global ticket sales; Die Another Day was the highest-grossing Bond flick ever, raking in $413.9 million worldwide.
But Brosnan hasn’t been happy with the direction of the series and has chided producers in the press for playing it safe with the character.
“They don’t know what to do,” he said recently. “They don’t know how to move on–a sense of paralysis has set in.”
Brosnan even nominated Quentin Tarantino–who’s expressed an interest in directing a Bond film–to reinvent the franchise with a new version of Casino Royale (which was originally adapted in 1967 as a spoof starring Peter Sellers and Woody Allen).
Producers were not exactly stirred by the suggestion.
Assuming producers sort out the Bond situation soon, the still-untitled Bond 21 should hit theaters sometime in 2005.
Bana the Next Bond?