One word provides the comfort of continuity to James Bond fans, and perhaps elicits confusion or a chuckle from anyone else watching: Broccoli. But the vegetable that graces the beginning of nearly every Bond movie isn’t a reference to the unfairly demonized cabbage variant. Rather, it signifies the family that has had a unique relationship with the franchise since its earliest days on the big screen.
In a new profile for The Hollywood Reporter, the family’s second-generation leader, Barabra Broccoli, opens up about what it was like growing up Bond as well as her hopes for the franchise in a post-Daniel Craig world.
For starters, she wants No Time to Die’s Cary Fukunaga back. “We love Cary. He’s done an exceptional job,” she says. “I don’t have any idea whether he’d do another one. I think he did this because he wanted a challenge, and he sure pulled it off. But I’m not sure if he’d do another one. We’d love to work with him again.”
For his part, Fukunaga told THR that he had “never worked with producers that were so creatively involved,” but working with the Broccoli family came part in parcel with a Bond picture, considering how “this is their baby.”
Broccoli’s father, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, didn’t invent James Bond — that was British writer Ian Fleming. But Cubby, a movie producer in the 1950s, quickly realized the movie potential of Fleming’s spy novels, which had been coming out to mostly critical praise and rising commercial success throughout the decade. He formed a partnership with another producer, Harry Saltzman to create two Bond-related companies: the first was Danjaq, which held the rights to Bond books, and the second was Eon Productions, short for the Bond-like “Everything or nothing,” which turned the books into films.
Barbara Broccoli first entered the Eon world when she was just six years old. Her first memories were watching tea ceremonies on set were in Japan while Sean Connery was filming 1967’s You Only Live Twice. She began working on the franchise in earnest with 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, working in the publicity department.
It was around this time that Broccoli and Saltzman had a falling out, leading to a long string of courtroom battles that were finally resolved in 1986. The ’80s were a rough period for the Bond franchise, and Cubby’s deteriorating health meant Barabra had to step up to oversee the open-ended development and production process. An associate producer on The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, she moved into her own as an producer on the movie that rebooted Bond for a post-Cold War world, 1995’s Goldeneye.
After the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Broccoli recalls “the press was saying, ‘Well, the world’s in a safe place, and who needs James Bond?’ The world has not been in a safe place since then. I don’t know if it’s ever been in a safe place.”
Over a quarter-century later, one thing that’s safe is Bond’s place at the box office. No Time to Die has dominated during a strange time for movies, in large part due to two decisions in which Broccoli played a crucial role: increasing the roles of Bond Girls from damsels in distress to Bond’s equals in his adventures, and the casting of Daniel Craig.
As for the next Bond, Broccoli is open to a several directions, but isn’t interested in a female Bond.
“I think it will be a man because I don’t think a woman should play James Bond,” she explains. “I believe in making characters for women and not just having women play men’s roles. I don’t think there are enough great roles for women, and it’s very important to me that we make movies for women about women. He should be British, so British can be any [ethnicity or race],” she says.
But with those parameters set, the production side of Bond is entering into the next of it’s many chapters: Amazon ownership, established when the e-commerce, cloud computing, artificial intelligence. and digital streaming giant bought MGM in May 2021 for $8.5 billion.
“I’ve never spoken to Jeff Bezos,” Broccoli says. “We haven’t really had any discussions, and we probably won’t until next year when the sale is approved. But as far as we know, [Bond 26] will be an MGM film under an Amazon banner.”