The massive success of “Skyfall” proved that the James Bond franchise had plenty of gas left in the tank, and it changed the game for the series, delving into the protagonist’s personal history more than ever before. However, things might have played out much differently had the production gone the direction of screenwriter Peter Morgan‘s (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon“) original script.
Digital Spy dug into the pages of “Some Kind of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films” by Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury, and it details Morgan’s Cold War-set “Once Upon A Spy,” the screenplay he wrote that was rejected by Sam Mendes and Bond producers. But the mechanics of it are pretty interesting.
The story would’ve revolved around M, starting in Cold War Berlin, where she has an affair with a KGB agent. 30 years later, the offspring of that union, now a corrupt oligarch, returns to blackmail her. She then orders Bond to take out the man causing her trouble, but a turn of events forces 007 to kill M at the climax. Heavy. And it’s easy to see why those involved with the movie balked.
That said, some things did remain when Neal Purvis and Robert Wade came board to pen “Skyfall.” Their first draft, titled “Nothing Is Forever,” still had M dying, but introduced Raoul Sousa (later Raoul Silva), who enacts a Barcelona subway bombing that finds M escaping to a safe house, where she’s killed. In “Skyfall,” it’s James Bond’s childhood home that’s eventually the site of her demise. And Ralph Fiennes‘ Mallory, originally named Mallender, takes over.
Morgan’s initial premise was interesting, and even though today’s Bond is darker than ever, perhaps it was too gritty to get made.