By now most everyone who hasn`t been living under a rock or living on board The Mir Space Station has heard the rumor that THE EQUALIZER star, Edward Woodward, is in talks to replace Judi Dench as “M”. Yahoo!, Reuters, E! Online, Aint It Cool News and countless other media outlets, some who should know better, have run the story. With the release date of the next Bond film probably not until Summer 2002, these are just the kind of premature, unfounded rumors we at 007Forever would like to have just ignored. However, due to the many kind fans and visitors who kept emailing us with the news links, we decided to tackle the issue head on and tell you what we know…and what we think.
We could have believed the Edward Woodward rumor if it hadn`t originated in The Daily Mirror, a London based tabloid, which is the American equivalent to The Star, or The National Enquirer. To put it diplomatically, their track record when it comes to 007 rumors is questionable. Only two years ago they claimed that all the James Bond actors would be working together in Bond 19 (later titled THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH). Of course that didn`t happen. But the real tip off that made this rumor suspicious to us is the Mirror`s assertion that the film is in preproduction under the working title of BEYOND THE ICE. Two years ago Bond 19 was “supposedly” under the working title FIRE AND ICE, ZERO WINDCHILL and ON HOT ICE. Do we see a pattern here? Not only were those three titles supposedly under consideration for Bond 19, but they were also rumored to be titles for Bond 18 (TOMORROW NEVER DIES).
One thing that we can unequivocally state is that BEYOND THE ICE is not the working title of the next James Bond film. 007Forever has confirmed that neither EON, nor MGM, have made any casting decisions at this time. In fact, they don`t even have a script or a draft of a script. They have nothing going on at this time in regards to Bond 20.
You have to maintain continuity in the series, so what would the point be of replacing Judi Dench, a recent Oscar winner and an actress whose role was greatly increased for `World` after her Oscar win? Woodward is 70 now. By the time Bond 20 comes out, he`ll be 72. Do you really want to initiate a new long term character under those circumstances?
And the Alaska rumor? Don`t even get us started. It is sufficient to say that the Alaska rumors are premature in the face of the fact that there is NO SCRIPT. How one makes the leap from having no script to the conclusion that Michael Wilson is going to set the precredits sequence in Alaska boggles the imagination. This is nothing new. Various rumors have circulated before that the precredits sequence would be set in Idaho (Brosnan was actually filming DANTE`s PEAK there) to Antarctica.
So, in effect, the Mirror`s story is an old rumor with a new twist, the new twist being Edward Woodward. In light of the fact there is no script, no draft, that BEYOND THE ICE is a reworked version of older title rumors, and that Alaska is just another cold weather location for older location rumors, we find it very hard to believe that Judi Dench is leaving or being forced out of her role as “M”. That`s not to say it won`t happen, but the odds don`t look to good for Edward.
And what of Gretchen Mol being cast as the next Bond Girl? While we don`t dispute she had lunch with Barbara Broccoli, a lot of other actresses have had lunch with Barbara Broccoli, and not all of them were cast. Brigitte Nielsen comes to mind. Most of the casting on Bond films comes a few weeks before filming, and in some cases even during filming. Take a look at our section, Almost Acted and Sung, for a long list of actors and actresses who auditioned, had lunch with, met the producers or were approached about starring and for some reason or another did not. The chances of Gretchen Mol being cast this far in advance of the film, without a script, are remote.