Help wanted: Secret agent with youthful appearance. Must have a taste for dry martinis, voluptuous women, and look dashing in a tux. Martial arts knowledge, ability to operate lethal gadgets a plus. Contact MGM.
The worldwide search for an actor to play Agent 007 is about to get underway now that MGM has signed Martin Campbell to direct "Casino Royale," the 21st film in the Bond franchise. The New Zealand-born Campbell directed the hit 1995 Bond film "GoldenEye" starring Pierce Brosnan, which grossed $106 million in North America alone. Campbell's other films include "Vertical Limit" and "The Mask of Zorro"; he is currently wrapping up a sequel, "Legend of Zorro." MGM has slated "Casino Royale" for release in 2006.
With Campbell on board, sources said a "comprehensive" search will now begin for a new Bond. There will be no preconceived ideas on who that might be, sources said, but one reason Brosnan was not considered is because the new role will more closely resemble a younger Bond, like the one Fleming introduced in his novel "Casino Royale."
For months, Hollywood has been rife with speculation on who might be tapped to replace Brosnan, 51, in the role of Agent 007. Rumors have surfaced that actor Colin Farrell, who recently starred in Oliver Stone's sword-and-sandal epic, "Alexander," might be the next Bond, but Farrell reportedly expressed no interest in the role. Others whose names have surfaced included "Star Wars" actor Ewan McGregor and Australian star Hugh Jackman as well as Jude Law, Eric Bana and Clive Owen.
Over the years, Bond has been played by some of the world's most debonair actors: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Brosnan.
The proposed production budget of the new Bond film will be in the neighborhood of $130 million, sources say, on par with the last Bond film, "Die Another Day."
MGM said Campbell will begin developing the "Casino Royale" script with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who wrote the last two Bond screenplays.