James Bond’s hint in Skyfall that he may have had a gay experience in his past was a mission too far for studio executives, according to the film’s producer, who said she had to fight attempts to cut the scene.
Barbara Broccoli, the longtime producer of the 007 franchise, said she fought back against moves to scrap a scene where Daniel Craig’s Bond has a charged encounter with the movie’s villain, Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem.
Bond, bound to a chair by henchmen, is caressed by Silva who touches his chest and thigh, adding: “You’re trying to remember your training now. What’s the regulation to cover this? Well, first time for everything I guess.”
An unfazed Bond replies: “What makes you think this is my first time?”
The significance of the scene was widely debated at the time – screenwriter John Logan said it was “playing the sort of homoerotic card that is sort of always there [in Bond films]” – but according to Broccoli it almost didn’t make the final version, a global smash that made $1.1bn (£800m) at the box office and rebooted the franchise.
“I remember we were told to cut that line by the studio and we said no, no, no,” said Broccoli, in an Apple TV+ documentary about Craig’s Bond films Being James Bond. “We resisted.”
Broccoli, known as the gatekeeper of the Bond brand, said her determination to retain the scene was justified by the reaction to it at the 2012 global premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
“The night of the premiere, that line, just the whole place rocked it then … I remember looking at the studio executive [and] going, ‘See, told you,’” said Broccoli.
The film’s director, Sir Sam Mendes, acknowledged the subtext of a scene that challenged Bond’s decades-old screen representation as a womaniser. “I think there’s a huge homoerotic undertow in a lot of Bond movies,” he said.
One former 007 claimed Broccoli would never allow a gay Bond in her lifetime. Speaking in 2015, Pierce Brosnan said he was open to the idea of a gay 007 but the franchise’s gatekeeper might have different ideas.
“Sure. Why not?” said Brosnan, when asked whether he could picture a gay Bond. But he added: “Actually, I don’t know how it would work. I don’t think Barbara would allow a gay Bond to happen in her lifetime. But it would certainly make for interesting viewing.”
Brosnan added that a racially diverse casting of Bond was more likely in the future. “Let’s start with a great black actor being James Bond,” he said.