Why Martin Campbell Didn't Return to Direct Any Bond Sequels

Martin Campbell breathed fresh life into the Bond franchise twice. With Goldeneye and Casino Royale, he kicked off two new chapters in the long-running franchise to great success. The filmmaker made the character vital again, both for audiences in the ’90s and the 21st Century. While the sequels with Pierce Brosnan drastically departed from the tone Campbell established, there are still echoes of the filmmaker’s work in the most recent Daniel Craig-led films.

But he never came back to the series after those entries. During a recent career-spanning interview for Campbell’s new action-thriller, The Protégé, he told us why he wasn’t ever interested in making any direct sequels to his Bond movies.

How Many Control Rooms Can I Blow Up?

Campbell has only ever directed one sequel in his career, The Legend of Zorro. As for Bond, “been there, done that” was his attitude once he completed his 007 films. He told /Film:

“I felt I did my part with Goldeneye. I just felt, how many control rooms can I blow up? It’ll be a differently designed control room, but I’ll still be blowing it up. There will still be nutcases wanting to take over the world. Also, with Bond, his character is his character. You’re not discovering much more if you see what I mean. So, that was the reason I decided to back off doing more with the exception of Casino Royale.”

During our interview with Campbell, he reflected on his Bond films, including one common theme. The filmmaker emphasized that author Ian Fleming’s character is a cold-blooded killer. For Campbell, the killer instinct is pure Fleming:

“In the book, quick kills and put a bullet in his head, Bond is fine with that. If it’s an ugly kill, like the opening of Casino Royale when it’s an ugly fight when he’s in the bathroom and tries to drown him, it’s an ugly kill. That is something he finds difficult to handle. It was from the book.”

If there’s one characteristic Campbell didn’t ever incorporate from the source material, though, it’s Bond’s vices. “He also smoked 70 a day, which we obviously didn’t put in, because you don’t do that in movies now,” he added. “He also drinks too much and his liver is a bit dodgy, which of course, is Fleming himself. He drank too much and had his hand-rolled cigarettes, which finally killed him with the heart attack.”

When to Be Subversive, When to Be Faithful

With Campbell’s first Bond film, he wanted to subvert what’s dated Fleming’s iconic spy:

“In Goldeneye, it was very much in the ’90s. There’s that scene with M in which she says, ‘You’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur, something out of the past.’ She really hands it to him. There’s that. Also, M is being played by a woman, right? Stella Rimington was the head of MI5 in London at the time, which is why we changed it. It was very much the ’90s. The story had a Cold War backing if you see what I mean.”

As for Casino Royale, Campbell was more faithful to Fleming’s writing. “With Casino Royale, it was different,” Campbell said. “It was based very much on the book with the card game, the $140 million stake, the terrorist organization, it was very much today. Terrorism is something with us every day of the year, one way or another. It’s a grittier, tougher, and harder movie. Bond is tougher, in the sense he’s got his feet truly off the ground.”

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