AJB Interview with Debbie McWilliams

BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
Our next guest is an integral member of the Eon Bond team. Debbie McWilliams is the casting director for No Time To Die, formerly Bond25. As she was for Bond24. And Bond23, Bond22…. all the way back to For Your Eyes Only.
Her career has also included Barbara Broccoli’s Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, Superman 3, and many others.

Naturally, Ms McWilliams will not be discussing the current Bond movie and equally naturally there are many sensitive areas in casting which she will not be going into. Don’t be surprised if your question goes unanswered. To that end, please keep your questions general. Ms McWilliams reserves the right to not answer any question(s) as she chooses, which I’m sure you’ll understand. She has said she will look at our questions but no promises.

Clearly she is a busy person, and I can’t guarantee when she will find time to reply. Nevertheless it looks like this will be an interesting interview!

Please post your questions below. As usual, 48 hours before I send the questions on ie 21.00 GMT on Sunday.
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Comments

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    Has there been a difference between working initially with Cubby Broccoli and Michael Wilson, and then Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli?
  • clublosclublos Jacksonville, FLPosts: 193MI6 Agent
    Were any casting decisions made by you and Eon overridden by the studios? If so, did they and/or do they still have the final say?

    Was Sean Connery actually pursued for the role of Kincaid in Skyfall, or was that media speculation?
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,756MI6 Agent
    Great work, Barbel!


    - What casting dicisions have you found most challenging/difficult in your career? I'm thinking especially of the Bond movies, but also in general.

    - Have you started working on casting the next James Bond? If not, when do you expect to start on this?

    - How much input/say does Daniel Craig get on casting other actors in his Bond Movies?
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    The Bonds used to be every two years, has the change to longer periods between films,
    Made her job harder or easier ? or just different
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,374MI6 Agent
    edited August 2019
    How long have you been trying to get Monica Bellucci on a 007 movie?
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    Higgins wrote:
    How long have you been trying to bring Monica Bellucci on?

    Higgins, you might want to rephrase that one....
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,114MI6 Agent
    Another fantastic interviewee Barbel! -{ -{ -{

    How often do the producers suggest cast members they may have seen in other things? And given how international the casts are, can that prove challenging?

    I guess on-screen 'chemistry' is an important factor, especially between Bond and the leading female roles. How many actors are screen tested for each role before the final part is cast?

    I note that An American Werewolf in London was one of Debbie's first films - can she share any interesting anecdotes about that film, one of my favourites?
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • AugustWalkerAugustWalker Posts: 766MI6 Agent
    3 questions:

    1. Where do you think the series will be heading in the future, especially with the casting of the Bond-role?

    2. What’s the most regrettable case of an actor (initially belonging to the main cast) not getting cast ? Let it be villain or Bond-girl...or even 007 himself...

    3. Are there any actors that first didn‘t land a part only to be cast in a later movie (like M.Bellucci)?
    The name is Walker by the way.

    IG: @thebondarchives
    Check it out, you won’t be disappointed :)
  • AndrewBondAndrewBond Skyfall, UKPosts: 64MI6 Agent
    If Debbie could cast herself as any Bond character from any of the previous films, which role would it be and why? 8-) -{
    ‘Secret Agent?? On whose side?’
  • Mr MartiniMr Martini That nice house in the sky.Posts: 2,669MI6 Agent
    Was Clive Owen ever considered for Bond before Daniel Craig was announced?
    Some people would complain even if you hang them with a new rope
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,685MI6 Agent
    I've noticed over the years that casting directors seem to not only look at talent but also how the actors' physical appearance contributes to the ensemble.

    For instance, the hero is frequently matched with a heroine who has similar features and hair coloring. If the star has a long face, most of the cast will also have long faces, some even more narrow to make the star's face seem better proportioned. If the star has a receding hairline or a large nose, other actors will, too. The exception might be with the villain, who will look unlike the star (unless there's some familial angle to the story). That sort of thing.

    Am I reading this correctly as a consideration? If so, might there have been actors you wanted to cast for the Bond movies but rejected because they didn't contribute to this "ensemble look"? Did you cast them in later Bond films with a new star?

    Also, to me, Daniel Craig seems cut more of the Connery/Lazenby mode than the Moore/Dalton/Brosnan one, giving him something of a retro quality as Bond. Do you know if this was a consideration for his getting the part?

    Thank you for your consideration.
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    Mr Martini wrote:
    Was Clive Owen ever considered for Bond before Daniel Craig was announced?

    Good question for Barbel! I remember we had a member, an EON mole claiming to have worked in Debbie McWilliams’ office and he gave us day to day updates leading to them finalizing Clive Owen.
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    superado wrote:
    Mr Martini wrote:
    Was Clive Owen ever considered for Bond before Daniel Craig was announced?

    Good question for Barbel!

    No way, I'm not the interviewee! :o
  • hehadlotsofgutshehadlotsofguts Durham England Posts: 2,075MI6 Agent
    What qualities do you look for when casting actors for the following character types?

    Villain
    Allies
    Bond Girls
    Have you ever heard of the Emancipation Proclamation?"

    " I don't listen to hip hop!"
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    Thanks everyone for your questions. I've submitted them to Ms McWilliams but as said above I can't guarantee when she'll reply.
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,114MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    I've noticed over the years that casting directors seem to not only look at talent but also how the actors' physical appearance contributes to the ensemble...

    I'd think that height is a major consideration. Choosing a female lead taller than the hero would be vetoed in most films, and it's also unlikely that the principal villain would be taller, unlike the henchman.
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,685MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    I've noticed over the years that casting directors seem to not only look at talent but also how the actors' physical appearance contributes to the ensemble...

    I'd think that height is a major consideration. Choosing a female lead taller than the hero would be vetoed in most films, and it's also unlikely that the principal villain would be taller, unlike the henchman.
    That makes sense, though it's been done before. Alan Ladd, Audie Murphy, and Humphrey Bogart, for instance, frequently had female co-stars taller -- Ingrid Bergman was officially an inch taller than Bogey,and they worked together in Casablanca. Generally, they're just filmed in such a way that the height difference is not noticeable. On TV's Get Smart, Don Adams made the taller Barbara Feldon slouch. I'm not sure about height with villains, though perhaps that more of a consideration in Europe than the States. We have quite a few actors who are at or just over average height -- Mel Gibson, Jamie Foxx, Bruce Willis, William Shatner, Robert Conrad, Matt Damon, Robert Downy, Jr., and so forth -- and they're frequently cast against villains who are taller.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    Debbie McWilliams has replied. I'd like to thank her for her co-operation and hope you enjoy her answers.


    1- Has there been a difference between working initially with Cubby Broccoli & Michael Wilson, and then Michael Wilson & Barbara Broccoli?

    Their work ethic is very similar. Cubby loved a practical joke. Michael and Barbara have inherited their father’s extraordinary generosity of spirit. 



    2- Were any casting decisions made by you and Eon overridden by the studios? If so, did they and/or do they still have the final say?

    No. They do have the final say but they have never disagreed with any decisions.



    3- Was Sean Connery actually pursued for the role of Kincade in Skyfall, or was that media speculation?

    Not as far as I know.



    4- - What casting decisions have you found most challenging/difficult in your career? I'm thinking especially of the Bond movies, but also in general.

    Every film is different and poses it’s own challenges. I’ve never not been able to cast a part.



    5- Have you started work on casting the next James Bond? If not, when do you expect to start on this?

    No. No idea.



    6- How much input/say does Daniel Craig get on casting other actors in his Bond movies?

    Daniel is always very interested to know who the leading lady will be and who the villain will be. 



    7- The Bonds used to be every two years. Has the change to longer periods between films made your job harder, easier, or just different?

    It doesn’t make any difference.



    8- How often do the producers suggest cast members they may have seen in other things? And given how international the casts are, can that prove challenging?

    I specialise in international casting and always have done. The Producers very often make suggestions. It is quite a collaborate effort.



    9- I guess on-screen 'chemistry' is an important factor, especially between Bond and the leading female roles. How many actors are screen tested for each role before the final part is cast?

    There is no fixed number of actors who are tested. Sometimes hardly any, sometimes quite a few.



    10- I note that An American Werewolf in London was one of your first films- can you share any interesting anecdotes about that film, one of my favourites?

    Leonard Rossiter was originally offered the part of the police inspector but wrote me a letter to say he’d never been so offended. The part was then played by Paul Kember who went on to be a very successful writer.



    11- It’s rumoured that Monica Belluci was possibly going to be in an earlier Bond movie than Spectre- is this true?

    Yes it’s true, Monica Belluci tested for Tomorrow Never Dies. 



    12- Where do you think the series will be heading in the future, especially with the casting of the Bond-role?

    No comment.



    13- What’s the most regrettable case of an actor (initially belonging to the main cast) not getting cast? Let it be villain or leading lady ...or even 007 himself...

    No comment.



    14- Are there any actors that at first didn’t land a part only to be cast in a later movie?

    Yes but can’t think who off the top of my head.



    15- Was Clive Owen ever considered for Bond before Daniel Craig was announced?

    Many actors were considered before Daniel but not Clive Owen.



    16- I've noticed over the years that casting directors seem to not only look at talent but also how the actors' physical appearance contributes to the ensemble.

    This has never been part of how I go about Casting. I’m only ever looking for the best actor. 



    For instance, the hero is frequently matched with a heroine who has similar features and hair coloring. If the star has a long face, most of the cast will also have long faces, some even more narrow to make the star's face seem better proportioned. If the star has a receding hairline or a large nose, other actors will, too. The exception might be with the villain, who will look unlike the star (unless there's some familial angle to the story). That sort of thing.

    Am I reading this correctly as a consideration? If so, might there have been actors you wanted to cast for the Bond movies but rejected because they didn't contribute to this "ensemble look"? Did you cast them in later Bond films with a new star?

    Also, to me, Daniel Craig seems cut more of the Connery/Lazenby mode than the Moore/Dalton/Brosnan one, giving him something of a retro quality as Bond. Do you know if this was a consideration for his getting the part?

    Thank you for your consideration.

    [Ms McWilliams made no response to this. Barbel]



    17- What qualities do you look for when casting actors for the following character types?

    Villain
    Allies
    Leading Ladies

    The best actors for the role! It’s all driven by the script.



    18- If you could cast herself as any Bond character from any of the previous films, which role would it be and why?

    It has never crossed my mind!
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,756MI6 Agent
    Nice interview. I had hoped for a more interesting answer to question number four, but there you go. So it looks like Clive Owen was never tested. I remember people in this forum who saw his casting for CR was bound to happen. I can see how one would think so. And it looks like Connery wasn't considered for SF, since I doubt they would involve the casting director if they ever seriously thought about it.
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,114MI6 Agent
    Thanks Barbel for arranging this interview, and for Debbie to take the time to reply - some interesting answers here as Number 24 says. -{
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • clublosclublos Jacksonville, FLPosts: 193MI6 Agent
    Thanks for conducting this interview, Barbel.
  • AimForBondAimForBond CanadaPosts: 4MI6 Agent
    Wow, very interesting. Excellent interview Barbel -{ .
  • AndrewBondAndrewBond Skyfall, UKPosts: 64MI6 Agent
    Thanks Barbel for organising and Debbie for taking time to respond -{
    ‘Secret Agent?? On whose side?’
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,055Chief of Staff
    Much appreciated, guys. {[]

    I still haven't heard back from Yaphet Kotto, though his assistant assures me he is on it and will call.
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,559MI6 Agent
    {[]
    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
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