Here at the Last Movie Outpost it will come as no surprise that we have a couple of James Bond fans among our Outposters. If the ranking of every James Bond movie didn’t give it away, maybe the Ian Fleming read-along, the Bond recasting speculation or the passionate defence of Quantum Of Solace might have given you a clue.
As we kick our heels here at the Outpost, waiting, and waiting, and waiting until No Time To Die is finally released we are suffering Bond withdrawal. So it was with great pleasure that we found ourselves speaking to Mark Edlitz.
Mark is Writer / Producer who has worked for the Discovery Channel, History Channel and National Geographic. Articles he has written have been published in places ranging from the Huffington Post to the Los Angeles Times. Most importantly for us, Mark is also the author of The Many Lives Of James Bond and, shortly to be published, The Lost Adventures Of James Bond. So we jumped at the chance to sit down and get our Bond fix with him.
Mark, welcome to the Last Movie Outpost. First of all, a ritual for Bond fans when they first meet. Tell us about your first Bond experience? What was it? When did you first become aware of James Bond?
My first exposure to James Bond was watching Moonraker with Roger Moore. Then For Your Eyes Only. It was a great one-two punch. The first film is an over-the-top epic set in space and the second one is gritty and down-to-earth. It also showed me that there doesn’t have to be one kind of Bond movie. They can be cold-war thrillers like From Russia with Love or action comedies like Octopussy. From there, I watched all the movies and devoured all of Ian Fleming’s novels.
The predictable, but essential questions – favorite Bond, and favorite Bond movie?
Like many fans, my favorite-Bond anything changes from year to year. But Casino Royale, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Living Daylights are towards the top of the list. Roger Moore was my first Bond so, in some ways, he’ll always have a special place in my heart. Sean Connery created the template. But right now, I love Daniel Craig. I also wish that Timothy Dalton made a few more movies.
So as we sit here waiting for No Time To Die, what did you think of the news that it may have gone streaming?
That’s been a bit of a hot-button issue in the Bond community. I’m happy to wait to see it in theaters. Watching it at home for the first time, would not be quite the same impact on me. It wouldn’t be the same experience. But I completely understand why many fans want to watch it right now.
Speaking of No Time To Die, and specifically Daniel Craig, you presented him with one of your books once didn’t you? Tell us how that happened?
That’s right, I gave Daniel Craig a copy of my book The Many Lives Of James Bond. I went to a screening of Knives Out that was scheduled to have a Q&A with Craig. I showed up early, ran to the first seat in the first row, and anxiously waited for the movie and Q&A to finish. Afterwards, I bolted from my seat and gave him a copy of the book, which has him on the cover. He graciously accepted it, shook my hand, and said, “Well, done.” Then he zipped into his car and drove away. I’d like to think that he spent the ride home reading the book. At least, that’s my fantasy.
He’s not the only Bond you have met?
Through work, I met Pierce Brosnan a few times. I also met Roger Moore on a couple of occasions. I went to a black-tie event because I knew Moore would be there and I wanted to shake his hand and thank him for all the years of enjoyment he gave me. It was fun because we were both wearing tuxes. Meeting Roger Moore in a tux is a little like meeting the real James Bond.
The book you presented to Daniel Craig, The Many Lives of James Bond, tell us about that? What in Bond lore does it cover, and what led you to write it?
The Many Lives Of James Bond is a couple of things. It’s also a collection of interviews with actors who have played 007. But it’s not always the Bond actors you think. I did interview two movie Bonds. I also interviewed actors who played Bond in video games, on the radio, television, animated shows, and audiobooks. I even tracked down the performer who played a dancing 007 at the Oscar tribute to Cubby Broccoli.
The book is also an examination of the character, an attempt to find out who he is and what makes him tick. I interviewed many Bond creators, including screenwriters, directors, and novelists.
How do you even begin to write a book like that? Did you start just calling the representatives of the cast and crew? How does a project like that get off the ground?
I just started writing it. It was the book I wanted to read. I didn’t go to a publisher first. It was something I felt compelled to do. Plus, I knew it would be fun talking to all those different Bond creators. I wrote it out of love for the franchise.
How was it received?
The Bond fans were very complimentary and supportive of the book. I was worried that they would reject it, but they seemed to have embraced it. For that, I’m very grateful. That book led to many new relationships and friendships with my fellow Bond fans.
That led you to want to write another Bond book. So how did you decide on The Lost Adventures Of James Bond? Tell us about the book?
The James Bond universe is greater than many fans might think. Even if they have seen all the movies and devoured Ian Fleming’s books, there is much more to discover about 007. There is a fascinating galaxy of Bond adventures that have been lost, unmade, out-of-print or forgotten by even the most dedicated Bond fan. My goal was track down all these stories and share them with the fans.
The Lost Adventures Of James Bond is about unmade, rare, and forgotten Bond stories. I write about Timothy Dalton’s unmade third Bond movie. There were two different possible versions of it. But they also made progress on a potential fourth Dalton Bond.
I also interviewed John Landis about writing The Spy Who Loved Me and Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II and Star Trek VI) about Tomorrow Never Dies. The director of the 1998 The Avengers film told me the story about Sean Connery’s “lost” performance as 007.
So I am reading it now. Fascinating. For a Bond junkie like me there are so many great little facts and unknown stories. Without spoiling anything for potential readers, what was your favorite thing that you uncovered?
I was able to solve a long-standing Bond mystery! The first James Bond spinoff book is called 003 ½: The Adventures of James Bond Junior. The author’s name on the book is R.D. Mascott but that was a pseudonym. For decades, the identity of the author has been kept a secret. I was able to track down the real author.
I was also very glad to speak to Toby Stephens who has played Bond on the radio eight times. Stephens has never done a full interview about playing Bond, so I was thrilled to be able to hear his thoughts about his approach to Bond.
Dalton always felt like the short-changed Bond so it was great to start with his unmade movies. I knew all about his third, but his fourth? How did you uncover those details?
Timothy Dalton is a big focus of the book. That’s why cover-artist Sean Longmore put Dalton on the cover of the book. He did a great job. He has Dalton disappearing, Thanos style.
There is a lot of misinformation about Dalton’s third Bond film. I was glad to set the record straight about it. For instance, there’s been a long-standing rumor that the film would have been called Property of a Lady, named after Fleming’s short story. But that’s not the case. I was able to learn the actual title.
I really like the script for Dalton’s third Bond. It would have made a great movie. It was a little bit in the From Russia, With Love vein. I love to solve “Bond mysteries” so I just keep on writing, researching, and making calls until I find out the answer. I also found out more about a different first Dalton Bond movie. It would have been 007’s origin story. It was very different than the film version of Casino Royale. In it, Bond would have been paired with a senior Double-O agent. This agent would have taught him the unformed Bond many different lessons in the field.
Is there one scene they conceived for a lost adventure you hope to one day see on the screen?
In the book, I wanted to give Bond fans a sense of what some of these “lost” Bond scenes would have looked like. This amazing artist Pat Carbajal drew some scenes for me. In one of them, Timothy Dalton is dressed up like a cowboy and in another, he’s engaging in mid-air combat on a hang-glider.
The Bond comics have historically had many different problems. There have been many instances where the storyline was never completed. There is a fascinated Bond comic called A Silent Armageddon, written by Simon Jowett and art by John M. Burns. A Silent Armageddon was supposed to be four issues long. But only the first two issues of the book were published. I tracked down Jowett and he told me how the story would have ended. He also let me publish his full story treatment. John Burns let me include a few unfished drawings from that issue. Burns even went back and painted an unfinished frame! Incredible.
James Bond Jr was a blast from the past for me. I remember the cartoon very well. What led you to include that in the book?
James Bond Jr. is not necessarily loved in the Bond community. In fact, most Bond fans don’t like the show. However, the Bond producers put a lot of thought and effort into making the series. There were 65 episodes, comics, books, and toys. I tracked down the co-creator of the series, the co-director, and many writers and asked them about their experience making it. To this day, the series is not available on DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming. But I wanted to find out more about James Bond Jr. and how and why it was made.
The existence of a Choose Your Own Adventure style Bond book – The Barracuda Run – was news to me. How did you find out about that?
Most Bond books are traditional novels. But there were a handful of Bond books where the readers could determine the outcome of the story. You know, “if Bond stays and fights” turn to page 18 but if Bond tries to escape, turn to page 77.”
R.L. Stine, the creator of Goosebumps also wrote one of them. I did a brief interview with him about it.
What I love about the Choose Your Own Adventure-style Bond books is that Bond “dies” in them. It’s not a fake death to throw off the enemies. But depending on what storyline the reader selects, a bad guy can kill Bond.
In James Bond in Barracuda Run, 007 is devoured by lava, eaten by sharks, and drowned in a submarine. A dead Bond is not something we see in Fleming’s books or Eon’s movies.
Those comics were incredible too. I read the For Your Eyes Only adaption in the UK, and a couple of others, but those Spanish editions were amazing. How did you track those down?
A Chilean publisher named Zig- Zag put out 59 Bond comics. Some of them are adaptations of Flemings novels and short stories. But most of them are original stories. They are wonderful.
In one, Bond meets a group of “flower children” who strip him down and bathe with him. In another, 007 battles a bigfoot-esque creature called a Yeti. Bond also meets up with a gang of women who wear these bee costumes and fly around in jet-packs. Bond purists might not respond to the comics, but I love them. They are brimming with fantastic ideas.
An artist named German Gabler wrote the vast majority of the stories and he and the other artists used Sean Connery’s likeness in all the issues. As a result, Connery’s Bond appears in stories that Roger Moore is more closely associated with. For instance, it’s Connery in Moonraker and Connery in The Spy Who Loved Me. It’s a slightly surreal but entirely enjoyable experience.
Is there an unmade Bond adventure that you couldn’t feature in the book? Anything that you know about, but couldn’t find enough detail on to include?
I have a section about a shuttered theme-park attraction that includes a first-person Bond movie in it. I haven’t been able to track down the actual film yet. But I did get a very detailed description of it and many behind-the-scenes photos from it. Before the ride, there was an intro film. Three-time Bond screenwriter Bruce Feirstein wrote the script and Desmond Llewelyn plays Q and Judi Dench plays M. I’ve seen that and it’s tremendous fun. But when the attraction closed down, these Bond films were essentially lost. I hope my book, keeps them alive a bit.
Back to the cinematic Bond for a moment. There is a section on un-cast near misses. Is there an actor who nearly got the part that you would have liked to have seen in the famous tuxedo?
I’m bad a predicting Bonds. As a kid, I was rooting for Pierce Brosnan to play Bond but after seeing Layer Cake, I didn’t think Craig would be a good 007. I thought he was just a good actor but not Bond. I was clearly wrong.
For a few years, Clive Owen’s name was mentioned as a possible Bond actor. He would have been good. I tracked down John Gavin, who was originally cast as Bond in Diamonds are Forever. Gavin gave me a brief statement, which I included in the book.
Any favorite picks to replace Daniel Craig now that his tenure is over? I saw your [redacted] note in the appendix!
That’s right in the appendix, I attempt to list every actor who has played Bond. It goes beyond the film actors. There are about 34 names in it. There’s a surprising number of actors who have played 007.
Any final thoughts?
This book took a few years to write. So I hope the Bond fans embrace it. Someone jokingly referred to me as the Indiana Jones of Bond writing. My goal is to find all these wonderful Bond artifacts and present them to the fans.
Mark, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at the Last Movie Outpost. Good luck with the book.
The Lost Adventures Of James Bond is launched on November 22nd and the price depends on where you are in the world.
To pick up the paperback:
For the e-book: