Steven Spielberg’s James Bond ... and other near-misses

Steven Spielberg was once turned down as director of a James Bond film.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

During a recent interview with England’s Daily Mail newspaper, Steven Spielberg revealed his one-time desire to direct a James Bond movie.

“I went to [Bond producer] Cubby Broccoli and asked if I could do one and he said: ‘No,’” Spielberg told the paper. “I’ve never asked again.”

It worked out OK for Spielberg; he went on to direct the first film in his own globe-trotting franchise, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” But what if Spielberg had directed a Bond film? What would that have looked like?

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Spielberg’s auteurist vision would have been odd in the context of another man’s franchise, but it’s not the only time there have been near-miss film experiments. Quentin Tarantino has reportedly been a longtime admirer of the Bond franchise and expressed interest in directing an installment himself.


But as odd as a Spielberg’s Bond might have been, it’s nothing compared to George Lucas’ original director choice for “Return of the Jedi”: David Lynch.

Lynch has talked openly about being summoned to Northern California by Lucas to discuss the possibility of directing the third film in the “Star Wars” series. According to Lynch, who told the story to an audience at the Hudson Union Society in 2010, the trip involved Lucas showing him Wookies and resulted in Lynch getting a debilitating migraine.

Lynch, whose sexual preoccupations would have made an odd fit with Lucas’ mostly sex-free universe, went on to attempt his own science fiction epic, “Dune,” which opened a year after “Jedi” to bad reviews and lousy ticket sales.

Director Darren Aronofsky, who had garnered great acclaim for such films as “The Fighter” and “Black Swan” has flirted twice with taking on a massive film franchise. The first time was in 1999, when, according to the book “Tales From Development Hell,” he was approached by Warner Bros. to direct a reboot of the Batman series, which he co-wrote with “Dark Knight Returns” writer and artist Frank Miller.

Although the studio ultimately decided not to move forward with Aronofsky’s dark and gritty vision, that didn’t stop him from signing up to tackle a different superhero. Aronofsky was signed to direct Hugh Jackman in a follow-up to the hit, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” titled “The Wolverine.” However, he stepped away from the project in early 2011. The film is being released next summer after James Mangold took over directing.

And Tim Burton, who has become synonymous with the awkward outsider, was long attached to a big screen version of “Superman.” With his rippling muscles, coiffed hair and do-gooder image, Superman is hardly anyone’s idea of a classic Burton character, along the lines of Edward Scissorhands. But Burton’s vision would have played up the outsider aspects of the character. He even went so far as to cast Nicolas Cage as Superman, a decision even more controversial than him putting Michael Keaton in the Batman suit. Though the film went into pre-production in the late 1990s, it was eventually put on hold due to budget concerns. Burton moved on to direct “Sleepy Hollow.”

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Other filmmakers stepped in to make “Superman” movies, including Bryan Singer and Zack Snyder, whose “Man of Steel” is being released next year. Snyder, incidentally, has no designs on that other franchise, “Star Wars.” He recently told The Times that though he’s excited to see the new “Star Wars” films, he’s not interested in making one. Spielberg and Tarantino have also stated their disinterest in making a “Star Wars” movie.

Not all franchises are created equal, it seems.


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I went to Cubby Broccoli and I asked if I could do one and he said: “No’’,’

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I went to Cubby Broccoli and I asked if I could do one and he said: “No’’,’

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on FacebookM


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