THERE HAVE been no fewer than 24 James Bond films to date but few are as important or as Irish as GoldenEye.
The film that marked the 007 debut of Pierce Brosnan, GoldenEye also saw Bond return to the big screen with a bang after a six-year hiatus.
Much had changed in the time since the British Secret Agent’s last outing and there were plenty of doubters predicting 007’s downfall after so long away.
But, under the stewardship of director Martin Campbell, Brosnan delivered a Bond outing that felt like a breath of fresh air for the franchise.
It’s also a film with a surprising amount of Irish connections, some of which fans will know and some they won’t – here are just seven for starters.
7. A Chance Meeting
Pierce Brosnan first emerged as a star-in-the-making following the release the Bob Hoskins/Helen Mirren crime drama The Long Good Friday in 1979, in which he played an IRA assassin.
It wasn’t long before he was being earmarked for the role of Bond either. In 1981 a young Brosnan enjoyed a chance encounter with franchise producer Albert R. Broccoli while visiting his wife Cassandra Harris on the set of the 007 outing For Your Eyes Only.
Broccoli soon set his sights on Brosnan as Bond – but he had to wait. Despite being tipped to replace Roger Moore in the role, Brosnan was busy working on the TV show Remington Steele at the time and was contractually obliged to remain on the series. As a result, Timothy Dalton was drafted in, in his place.
6. An opportunity Not ‘Taken’
Prior to the eventual casting of Brosnan in the 1990s, Liam Neeson was tapped up to replace Timothy Dalton as James Bond. The Irishman decided against taking up the high-profile role though after his partner, the late actress Natasha Richardson, handed him an ultimatum.
“I was heavily courted, let’s put it that way, and I’m sure some other actors were too,” the 61-year-old told the Hull Daily Mail. “It was about 18 or 19 years ago and my wife-to-be said, ‘If you play James Bond we’re not getting married’. And I had to take that on board because I did want to marry her.”
5. An Irish Patriot
Sean Bean landed the role of GoldenEye villain Alex Trevelyan after playing a similarly villainous role in the Harrison Ford spy thriller Patriot Games. Bean played Irishman Sean Miller in the film, which was based on a Tom Clancy book.
Part of a splinter cell of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, Bean’s character targets the family of Ford’s character Jack Ryan for retribution after the latter interferes in an IRA assassination attempt. The role and performance, which included an Irish accent, played a crucial role in helping Bean land the part.
4. Help From U2
While Tina Turner performed the eponymous theme tune for GoldenEye, the track was actually written by Bono and the Edge. The pair were Turner’s neighbours in the South of France and, after learning she had been recruited to perform the title track, visited the singer where they performed the track on her piano.
GoldenEye peaked at no.10 in the UK charts and no.15 in the Irish top 40.
3. A Golden Inspiration
Bono was reportedly inspired to write the song GoldenEye after honeymooning with his wife at James Bond writer Ian Fleming’s Jamaican beach house, which just so happened to be called GoldenEye.
Fleming had named the house after a British Naval Intelligence operation he organised during World War II, to see if Germany would invade Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar.
2. The Forgotten Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan’s son, Christopher, enjoys a cameo of sorts in GoldenEye. When Pierce Brosnan cut his hand in a bathroom in Malibu prior to filming, director Martin Campbell was forced to enlist the help of a stunt double. Pierce’s 22-year-old son Christopher, who was the third assistant trainee on the film’s second unit, took up the gauntlet.
His hand appears in several key shots including pulling on a hand-brake in the Aston Martin DB5, flipping open the glove compartment to reveal a bottle of chilled Bollinger champagne, using the laser in the opening bungee jump, and cutting through the floor of the train with the laser in his wristwatch.
1. A Bond Apart
Brosnan is the only actor from outside the British Commonwealth to play the part of Bond. He’s also the deadliest with the Irishman dispatching 43 people in GoldenEye alone.