James Bond fans are still waiting to find out which actor will be the next to carry 007's license to kill since Daniel Craig retired the role in 2021's No Time to Die. And franchise producer Barbara Broccoli promises that whoever the next Bond is, it won't be someone we've seen before... especially if those Bonds are no longer alive.
While other cinematic universes — from the DC Extended Universe to Ghostbusters to Star Wars — have used emerging AI technology to resurrect late actors, Broccoli definitively states that there are no plans to bring back era-defining Bonds Sean Connery or Roger Moore, who passed away in 2020 and 2017 respectively.
"I think that those actors made such enormous contributions to the films, I would not want to disrespect them by having them do things that they did not create," the producer tells Yahoo Entertainment following a preview screening of the new Prime Video reality series 007: Road to a Million in New York. Asked whether she considers that a bridge too far, Broccoli nods in assent. "Way too far."
Broccoli is far from alone in that opinion. AI was at the center of the just-concluded SAG-AFTRA strike and actors like Nicolas Cage have gone on the record calling its use "inhumane." (Cage appeared in The Flash, which controversially used AI to include posthumous cameos by former Supermen Christopher Reeve and George Reeves.)
Naturally, Broccoli — who oversees the 007 franchise with Michael G. Wilson as the heads of Eon Productions — has no updates to share on which actor might usher James Bond into the future, a list that is rumored to include such candidates as Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Regé-Jean Page. But she does hint that whoever the next Bond is, it won't be an unknown and untested screen novice.
"We're totally open to casting a non-star," Broccoli notes. "But acting is a very specialized profession, and if somebody has to carry a movie and have the range of requirements [for Bond] in terms of physicality, it's not going to be someone who has never done it before. It would be sort of irresponsible to do that. But we'd certainly be open to a non-star."
In addition to finding a new Bond, Broccoli and Wilson also have to find a new director who will be an active participant in what she calls a "reinvention" of the franchise. "We're always open-minded about directors, but it's very early stages. It's awhile off."
One filmmaker with a well-known affinity for 007 is Christopher Nolan, and rumors about the Oppenheimer director's potential involvement in the post-Craig era have been flying about recently. "I'm a big fan of Chris Nolan," Broccoli says when asked if she's spoken with the director about his Bond fandom. "I know him and his wife [producer Emma Thomas] socially, and we've had lots of discussions about movies and Bond in general. He's phenomenal — I loved Oppenheimer. He's a great director."
Novices with dreams of becoming James Bond would be better off applying for Road to a Million, which features teams of ordinary people traveling around the world to complete various challenges on a mission to earn a million-dollar payday. Premiering Nov. 10 on Prime Video, the show represents Broccoli and Wilson's first foray into the streaming television space, reality or otherwise. While she's hopeful that the series will return for additional seasons, the producer cautions against the assumption that more Bond shows might be on the way. (Amazon now owns MGM, which has a stake in Bond, but Broccoli and Wilson have final say on the franchise's direction.)
"We do not want to expand it any other way," Broccoli says. "This idea [for Road to a Million] is something that was brought to us and we really loved it, and we loved the fact that it's real people. So I think this was sort of a one-off, but we're not looking to expand the Bond universe into television."
Broccoli says that Eon was heavily involved with casting Road to a Million, working with series director, Julian Jones, to feature a "cross-section" of contestants that reflect the multicultural identity of the United Kingdom today. "I hope audiences are going to love our contestants, because they've got so much heart," Jones says. "They were constantly surprising us and would always do something we weren't expecting."
"Casting the contestants was the most exciting and interesting part of it," Broccoli agrees. "I find the whole show very moving. It's fun and there's a lot of laughter, but also there are times when you see people having to face these challenges together and their reaction to that is [emotional]. All of them said to us that the money meant a lot, but the most important thing is they got to have an adventure with somebody they love or somebody they were good friends with. That's the whole thing."
Here's how you know Road to a Million has the emotional goods: The series even got Logan Roy to tear up. Succession star Brian Cox plays The Controller, the voice on the phone — and the face in the control room — that puts the contestants through their paces. The actor gets visibly teary-eyed when one team's journey on the road to a million ends prematurely and Jones says that reaction reflected how invested Cox was in everyone's success.
"He was really, really engaged and really rooting for them all," the director says. "Brian was a real sweetie. He came to the set full of beans and full of ideas. He's said since that he was a big fan of Roger Moore's Bond, and wanted to bring some of the more overt humor to the show. He liked the idea of being tongue-in-cheek and playful."
That playfulness has carried over into real life. Cox recently made headlines when he appeared on The Tonight Show and told Jimmy Fallon that he joined Road to a Million under the impression that he was appearing in the next James Bond film. But Broccoli thinks that's another one of Cox's Roger Moore-like gags.
"I'm not quite sure if that's true," she says with a smile. "I think he was joking a little bit." But she makes it clear that joke won't cost Cox the chance to appear in the next Bond film, whenever it goes before cameras. "I hope we'll get a chance to work with him again." Call him Roy... Logan Roy.
007: Road to a Million premieres Nov. 10 on Prime Video.