Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Looper Exclusive: Director Renny Harlin Reveals Why His James Bond Movie Never Happened

"Die Hard." "The Exorcist." "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Over the years, Renny Harlin has tackled some of the biggest franchises in show business, but there's one he's never touched: James Bond.

In hindsight, that's pretty surprising. After all, Harlin was one of most in-demand action directors in Hollywood in the early and mid-nineties, back when the Bond franchise was getting its first major reboot (thanks to legal issues, there was a six year gap between 1989's "Licence to Kill" and 1995's "GoldenEye," which was, at the time, the longest wait between installments since the franchise began). He'd practically made his name on stunt-heavy, character-driven action films. He would've been a perfect fit.

Well, apparently, Bond's producers agreed. "I hope nobody sues me, or I don't get into trouble for saying this, because I don't know if I've ever said this publicly, but I was once offered one of the James Bond movies," Harlin told Looper, in an exclusive interview

Harlin can't remember which movie in particular was under discussion, but given the timeline, it sounds like it would've been Dalton's canceled follow-up to "License to Kill," which went through a few different iterations in pre-production, including an ultra-gritty spy thriller.

However, Harlin ended up turning the movie down. As Harlin explains, "At that point, Timothy Dalton was James Bond. I was offered the next one, and to me, being a big James Bond fan, he was not the right guy." Harlin has nothing but praise for Dalton's talent, of course. He simply didn't see the actor in the role. "So I turned down the movie," he says, "and I said to them, 'I think you should recast James Bond.'"

Renny Harlin's choice for Bond ended up getting the role anyway

So, who did Harlin want to cast as 007? Why, none other than Pierce Brosnan. By that point, Brosnan had been linked to the role before. Reportedly, Brosnan was offered "The Living Daylights" before Dalton, but had to turn the movie down due to his commitments to the TV series "Remmington Steele," which received a surprise renewal specifically because of the casting rumors.

According to Harlin, the director suggested hiring Brosnan to the movie's producers, only to get shut down. "They said, 'No, we're not going to do it.' Then maybe six months later, they made the movie, and I was, at that point, making some other movie, and they had chosen Pierce Brosnan to be James Bond," Harlin remembers.

It took over 20 years, but Harlin and Brosnan did finally get to work together. "The Misfits," Harlin's new heist film, features Brosnan as the lead, and Bond fans should find his work pretty familiar. Richard Pace isn't exactly like Bond — while he's suave and has expensive taste, he's a criminal, not a super-spy — but the similarities are obvious.

To Harlin, that's a blessing, not a curse. "Everybody knows Pierce as James Bond, so he slips into this character very easily. And his history with the audience makes the audience believe that he can be this guy," Harlin says. "The baggage that he comes with, to me, is a positive thing."

"The Misfits" is now in theaters, and arrives on video-on-demand services on June 15, 2021.