As we’ve often found ourselves in the run up to the next era of James Bond movies, we’re all on pins and needles waiting to see who’s next cast as 007 himself. And if it was up to 007: Road to a Million star Brian Cox, he’d probably already be cast as the villain for whatever Bond 26 becomes.
As Prime Video subscription holders will tell you, the freshly-arrived reality series is a bit of a stop gap between films, and Cox’s part as The Controller definitely proves his Bond villain credentials. However, in my recent interview with series producer Ben Allen and series director Julian Jones, there was a mention of a compliment that Ms. Broccoli paid towards this series star that was a far greater feather in the cap. And what’s more, I can’t disagree with what she said.
Barbara Broccoli’s 007 Compliment Regarding Brian Cox
Sitting down with Allen and Jones on behalf of 007: Road to a Million, we eventually focused on Brian Cox’s claims that he felt he’d be a fantastic 007 villain. While that much was agreed upon, apparently Barbara Broccoli went one step further in her evaluation of the Succession actor at a recent press event; one that Jones was also present for. Here’s what he shared with CinemaBlend:
We did a chat, I was talking to Barbara Broccoli last week, we did this press thing, and she said he would have made a great Bond. Back in the day, Brian Cox would have made a great Bond. So imagine that: in a parallel universe, in the ‘60 or ‘70s or something.
Admittedly, I’d never contemplated Brian Cox playing James Bond in the past. That’s not to say I didn’t think he was capable, but as the man himself said, his career seems to have built up a strong resume of anti-heroic leads. So having him as a Bond villain feels like the more natural fit on the surface, especially after watching Cox’s first big TV role since Succession.
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Digging further into Mr. Cox’s past resume, I wanted to see if I could find some of his earlier works from the ‘60s and ‘70s that would help suggest what his Commander Bond would be like. As far as physical appearance goes, you can see a glimpse of Brian from the 1968 TV play “The Year of the Sex Olympics,” an episode from the BBC’s anthology program Theatre 625. Provided at the top of this section, I have to say that Brian Cox certainly had the look for a ‘60s-’70s Bond.
As far as what his performance could have been like, we turn once again to 007: Road to a Million director Julian Jones. Talking more about the experience of working with the man whose TV resume spans everything from Red Dwarf to Frasier to even Doctor Who, Jones shared this specific knowledge of Brian Cox’s Bond series preferences:
He was brilliant to work with. He was our first choice, and we were completely over the moon when he said yes. And he just came to the set full of ideas. He wanted to give it a kind of Roger Moore [flare]. That was his thing, he was like ‘To me, Bond is about the humor.’ So he wanted that kind of [energy.] You know, this is a fun series, we didn’t want to take it too seriously. So he wanted to sort of raise an eyebrow slightly, to just enjoy it. And I think you can sort of see he’s having fun with the idea of being a Bond villain. I think it wouldn’t have worked if we’d sort of taken it seriously. It’s clearly a piece of the fun.
So not only is there an alternate reality where Brian could have starred as 007, but according to Julian Jones, he would have practically fit into the tone and scope of the Roger Moore James Bond movies. That possibility is a wonderful thing to mull over in one's head, and hopefully will lead to some impressive fan art as a result.
At the same time though, Julian Jones and series producer Ben Allen have helped make the best audition reel for Brian Cox to have on hand. If he should still want to play the part of an antagonist against His Majesty’s government and world peace, 007: Road to a Million has kind of cemented that prospect.
How Brian Cox’s Improv Abilities Helped Cement Him As A ‘Bond Villain’
Most modern audiences think of Mr. Cox in the context of his role on the HBO hit drama Succession; and for good reason. Over four seasons, Brian’s character, Logan Roy, terrorized his rivals, and his family, with a gruff and profane nature. Ben Allen certainly knew that image, and as he stated below, it didn’t take long for those Roy vibes to give way to Brian Cox’s 007: Road to a Million villainy:
For me, I remember the first time we kind of filmed with him, he walked through onto set, and he’s all dressed up in his Controller outfit. It was literally the night before I had binge watched some Succession. So initially he comes in, you’re like ‘Wow. I’ve got Logan Roy in front of me. He’s a really mean guy.’ Super nice, super friendly, and he sat down at the desk, and kind of spun ‘round in front of these screens, and the whole kind of set up there, and it was like, ‘Ok, this is pretty cool. This works.’ And he’s like, with his cravat on there, and he’s got his beard, and he’s got his pen out. As Julian said, he just kind of naturally, he just kind of got it.
Just as 1968 Brian Cox looked like he could have very easily swaggered into the role of 007, the Brian of today certainly looks like he’d be able to bring Daniel Craig’s James Bond, or any modern Bond for that matter, to their knees. In fact, hearing of his desire to become such a baddie reminds me of the fact that initially Goldeneye was supposed to star an older variant of the Alec Trevalyan character, with the role being offered to Sir Anthony Hopkins,
Cox’s magnetic energy is infectious, and 007: Road to a Million director Julian Jones had his own tale of what made this performance so special. Much as both men had their stories of envy over 007: Road to a Million stunts they wished they could do, they also had their own tales of the greatness of the X-Men franchise vet and esteemed actor.
As it turns out, a very surprising elimination in the first episode was the catalyst for a moment of spontaneity that inspired a pretty fantastic moment that helped cement The Controller’s character early on. Jones laid out this moment for CinemaBlend, as well as some additional praise for Brian Cox, as follows:
You could just look at him all day, right? He could read the telephone book, and you’re gonna listen. He’s just got that gravitas. There was a moment in the first episode, without giving some spoilers away, that there’s some people that go out. And he improvised this thing where he just went, ‘Oh. Poor lassies.’ And he just improvised that, and it was like ‘Oh, he’s bringing this dimension to it.’ Where he’s sort of, he’s this kind of evil villain, but he’s still got a bit of a heart, and then he just goes, ‘ …Bye.’ It was like there was a flash of empathy from the Bond villain there, for these guys who’d gone out. And then he went, ‘Oh no, bye.’ When he started to kind of improvise, then it kind of really brought it to life. The script was pretty good, but he made it much better.
Brian Cox is probably not in the running to be the next James Bond, unless EON Productions wants to engage in a one-shot adventure with an older 007 settling some past scores. However, his viability as a big bad is still very much on the table, and 007: Road to a Million only proves it in great detail. Of course, his candidacy could be in question depending on whether or not The Controller returns for a potential Season 2.
While Ben Allen and Jeremy Jones aren’t sure about what the future could bring for this series, they’re both obviously excited for what could be. Whether that includes Brian Cox's return as The Controller is also yet to be seen, but that's also something the collaborators are open to revisiting. You can see why for yourself while watching 007: Road to a Million, which is currently streaming in its entirety on Prime Video.