‘Little things’ that are bothersome about NY Post 007 story

Tom Hiddleston in Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Lt. Columbo used to remark that “little things” bothered him. So it is with this week’s New York Post story proclaiming that Daniel Craig is very close to coming back for another turn as James Bond.

It’s not so much that Craig might actually be close. It’s no secret Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli just loves the guy as 007. Rather, it’s the glee that the Post’s unidentified sources exhibit in criticizing would-be Bond Tom Hiddleston.

Over the years, Eon has tested many actors as 007 who didn’t get the role. The roster includes Sam Neill, James Brolin, Michael Billington and John Richardson among others.

In various histories about the film series, you don’t see much evidence of Eon criticizing such actors.

Yet, if the New York Post series is to believed, sources supposedly in the know are yakking their heads off about how bad a choice Hiddleston was.

The source added, “Plus, Barbara Broccoli doesn’t like Tom Hiddleston, he’s a bit too smug and not tough enough to play James Bond.”

British actor Hiddleston’s cringe-making romance with Taylor Swift sealed his fate with Bond producers, we’re told, followed by his self-righteous Golden Globes speech, pontificating about his trip to South Sudan, and how Doctors Without Borders “binge-watched” his series.

The Post story, in turned, outlets spurred such as The Ringer (How Tom Hiddleston Lost the James Bond Franchise in Three Easy Steps), The Birmingham Mail (Daniel Craig’s James Bond Future has FINALLY Been Revealed) and Cinema Blend (Why Tom Hiddleston Was Allegedly Ruled Out as James Bond) weighing in on Hiddleston’s supposed short comings.

The Post doesn’t specify just how many sources it supposedly had for its story. It doesn’t specify how the sources came to know all this. (Sometimes, when relying on unidentified sources, reporters use phrases such as “with direct knowledge of the situation” to indicate the sources do know what’s going on.)

But if the Post’s sources are really in the know, they would need some kind of access to Barbara Broccoli. If not talking to her directly, they’d have to see memos, emails, whatever. If they don’t have that kind of access, how much knowledge to they actually have?

Consider this: You’re an actor. You go in to test for Bond. Later, people who claim to have inside knowledge are talking to the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column quoting the Bond boss how inadequate you are.

That’s the kind of thing, over time, might make one think twice about auditioning for such a role. It wasn’t just tabloids that said Hiddleston was in the running to play Bond last year. The Bond fan publication 007 Magazine said on its Facebook page in June 2016 that Hiddleston had been tested.

Even if Craig, 49, comes back for Bond 25, Eon is going to have to have auditions eventually if it wants to continue the Bond film series.

Again, the Post’s story is unconfirmed. Still, that hasn’t stopped fans and some entertainment websites as taking it as gospel. If the Post story is true, that might indicate there’s risk (to an actor’s reputation) as well as potential reward with the Bond role. If it’s not true, well, there’s been some wasted time.

“It was a lot of little things,” Lt. Columbo used to say. “Little things.”

UPDATE: A reader flagged to our attention that Justin Kroll, a Variety film reporter, commented about this on Twitter on April 5, a day before this post was published.

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The Living Daylights at 30: A short-lived new era

The Living Daylights poster

The Living Daylights poster

The Living Daylights, the 15th James Bond film made by Eon Productions, was going to be the start of a new era for the series.

With hindsight, it’s now evident the new era was doomed to be short-lived. But nobody envisioned that when the movie came out in the summer of 1987.

Roger Moore hung up his shoulder holster following 1985’s A View to a Kill. There was going to be a new film James Bond. The question was who would it be.

Sam Neill was screen tested. He had supporters among the production team, but didn’t have the vote of producer Albert R. Broccoli, according to the documentary Inside The Living Daylights.

Pierce Brosnan tested for the role (including playing scenes from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). He even signed a contract, with a photo taken of the event.

But all that went askew when NBC renewed his Remington Steele series. Broccoli had second thoughts.

Broccoli and his stepson, Michael G. Wilson, later denied in a television interview that Brosnan had even been signed.

The ultimate choice was Timothy Dalton. Broccoli said Dalton was the first choice all along.

“We wanted to get Timothy,” Broccoli said. “We had standing by the possibility of Pierce Brosnan. We liked Pierce. But we did really feel Timothy was the man we wanted.” Even if NBC hadn’t renewed Remington Steele, the producer said, “We liked Timothy very much.”

After the bumpy start, Daylights got into gear. Dalton, 40 at the time filming began, was almost 20 years younger than Moore. The actor also was more than willing to do some of his own stunts. This tendency showed up in the pre-titles sequence when Bond is on the top of a military truck at the Rock of Gibraltar.

Dalton, though, brought more than (relative) youth to the role. His Bond was more conflicted and more grounded in the original Ian Fleming novels and short stories.

Early in the film, Bond disobeys orders when he suspects a supposed sniper (Maryam d’Abo) isn’t genuine. He shoots her rifle instead of her.

Later, Saunders, another MI6 agent, says he’s going to report Bond to M. Dalton’s Bond isn’t fazed. “If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it.”

Richard Maibaum was on board for his 12th Bond film as scripter, collaborating with Wilson. The Maibaum-Wilson team built their story out from a sequence in Ian Fleming’s short story of the same title.

Initially, the duo had an “origin” story line that Broccoli vetoed. Instead, Dalton’s Bond would again be depicted as a veteran agent.

The Living Daylights generated worldwide box office of $191.2 million, an improvement over A View to a Kill’s $152.6 million.

In the U.S. market, however, Daylights’ $51.2 million wasn’t much better than View’s $50.3 million. For whatever reasons, American audiences never warmed to Dalton the way international audiences did.

Still, Daylights seemed to represent a fresh start for the Bond film series. What nobody knew at the time was that audiences had already consumed half of the Dalton Bond films.

What’s more, Daylights was the end of an era for the series. It had John Barry’s final 007 score. For his final Bond film, the composer would make a brief on-screen appearance.

Daylights also would be the last time that Maibaum would fully participate in the writing.

The veteran scribe (1909-1991) would help plot 1989’s Licence to Kill. But the actual script was written by Wilson, with Maibaum sidelined by a Writers Guild of America strike.