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A Bond for the 1990s: the Bond Films of the 1990s

The 007 adventures of the 1990s include some of James Bond’s most beloved outings of all time and the decade remains a cherished period of cinema for Bond fans around the world. During the 1990s, the role of 007 was played exclusively by Pierce Brosnan. This would be the first time in the history of the James Bond franchise that one actor had solely played the role of 007 for the duration of a single decade, a feat that would eventually be matched by Daniel Craig. As a result, many fans growing up in the 1990s have a strong affinity for the actor and the films in which he appeared, particularly his first outing in GoldenEye, which many critics and fans consider one of the finest Bond films of all time.

Despite Pierce Brosnan’s stellar portrayal of Bond throughout the mid to late 1990s, things could have looked quite different for 007. Initial plans at the beginning of the decade were to retain Timothy Dalton, following his appearances in The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill, for a third big-screen outing. The proposed and yet unnamed third Timothy Dalton adventure had been promoted during the Cannes Film Festival in 1990, with the hotel entrance decorated in banners announcing the agent’s imminent return. However, unforeseen legal issues with the studio delayed production of the seventeenth James Bond film considerably. By the time such issues had been resolved, Timothy Dalton had opted not to return to the franchise, paving the way for a new leading man to enter the fray.
Bond Films of the 1990s
On 8 June 1994, that man was finally unveiled as Pierce Brosnan at a large press conference in London. Officially the fifth 007, he was the first Irishman to portray James Bond. A long-time favourite of Cubby Broccoli, he had, in fact, been a strong candidate for the role for many years, having visited the set of For Your Eyes Only, in which his first wife, Cassandra Harris, plays Countess Lisl von Schlaf. This chance encounter had led many to believe that Pierce Brosnan himself would take over the role of Bond when Roger Moore’s tour of duty came to an end.

Bond Films of the 1990s

Fate intervened once more, with Pierce Brosnan’s involvement in the Remington Steele television series preventing him from doing so. By the time Timothy Dalton had made his exit in the early 1990s, Pierce Brosnan was free to make the role his own, debuting in explosive return of the franchise in 1995’s GoldenEye. The film was a resounding success, sparking reignited interest in the franchise as fans buzzed about the new 007. This momentum continued with the release of two more iconic adventures – Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 and The World Is Not Enough in 1999. By the time the millennium had come to an end, James Bond was back in a big way, ending the decade as one of the most beloved and recognisable movie characters in the world.

Bond Films of the 1990s

In addition to the casting of Pierce Brosnan as 007, the Bond films of the 1990s also included an exceptional cast of supporting characters; from Sean Bean’s memorable outing as Alec Trevelyan, Jonathan Pryce as Elliot Carver and Robert Carlyle’s sinister portrayal of Renard to the legendary Judi Dench reinventing the role of M and Hong Kong cinema icon Michelle Yeoh’s turn as the formidable Wai Lin. Even veteran British actor John Cleese joined the series as Q’s right-hand man R in The World Is Not Enough, whilst Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane appeared as Russian mafioso Valentin Zukovsky in both GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough.

With the franchise’s momentum at the box office, the series was undoubtedly firing on all cylinders with Pierce Brosnan as its new centrepiece. Heading into the new millennium, he would once again play the lead for the milestone 20th film in the series for Die Another Day. Whilst the film would ultimately prove to be his last as 007, Pierce Brosnan’s legacy as James Bond is ironclad due in no small part to the iconic films of the 1990s that captured the hearts and minds of audiences around the globe.


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