This week we welcome one of the youngest Bond experts on the planet, who has brought his own fan’s eye view to the page in his new book ‘James Bond: Behind the Tuxedo’. Originally from Spain, it was a serendipitous encounter in London that started it all.
001. How and when did you begin your journey into the world of Bond?
I think I had a rather strange but beautiful way to discover James Bond: it was in 2012 and I had come to London with my family. One morning we went to Harrods and in one of the women’s clothing floors, my parents saw a lady and, although calmly, they went crazy. I remember my mother asking my father if he wanted a picture with her.
They had the photo taken and my mom told her that the previous day, we had gone to the wax museum and he had a picture taken with her wax figure. I watched in amazement this scene, asking myself who was this short and charming woman. It turns out that she was Dame Judi Dench!
A few months later, Skyfall premiered and I loved it. I became a great fan of Dame Judi and I admire her so much.
002. Your book covers all sorts of facts and trivia. What was your approach and process like in bringing it all together?
Yes, it certainly does, from the actors who played 007 to Bond in The Simpsons for example. My book is from the fan’s point of view, which is what I am and I write for the fans. It also includes many exclusive interviews including Dame Judi Dench, which was the most complicated aspect to organise but they were all very friendly and collaborative. Regarding the rest, it comes from lots of researching, reading and other journalistic interviews.
003. What drew you in particular to the Thunderball novel and its complicated history?
I’ve always been fascinated by this part of Bond history. How would 007 have turned out if the first movie had been Thunderball? I knew that this story would have an important part in my book and it became more prominent when I interviewed the daughter of the scriptwriter Jack Whittingham, Sylvan, and through her, I met Robert Sellers. Sylvan showed me documents and explained the case and my interest in the story grew.
All this culminated in May last year when I introduced a screening of Thunderball and hosted a Q&A with Sylvan, Robert and Bond girl Martine Beswick at The Cinema Museum; tickets sold out in two weeks, three months before the event and there was a waiting list! And then, a few months later, the Spanish fan club of James Bond invited Sylvan and me to their annual convention in Madrid.
004. You also cover some fascinating facts such as songs that were recorded but never used for the films and actors or directors who missed out. Do you have any favourites you wish could have appeared?
I would have liked to see Roger Green, he had the physical figure to play the Bond of Diamonds Are Forever, also Henry Cavill, who was said to be Martin Campbell’s choice for Casino Royale, but I think he can still be Bond after Craig.
I would have loved to have seen “Once Upon a Spy”, the movie that ended up being Skyfall, in which Bond had to kill M.
005. You are originally from Spain – how big is the Bond phenomenon there?
James Bond in Spain is only popular when a movie is released; it’s not like in the UK where the movies are shown on TV every now and then and books are reissued. However, 007 has been in Spain a couple of times, but only in one film has it actually appeared as Spain, in Bilbao in the opening scene of The World Is Not Enough. Although it seems incredible, there have been four Spanish actors who have appeared in the franchise, and I have interviewed them all for my book. Funnily enough, the first one, Simon Andreu, is from a village in Mallorca 40 minutes from my house. He was filmed in southern Spain, but in the film is said to be Cuba.
006. What are some of your favourite Bond novels and why?
I like Casino Royale for those bits in the casino and for the torture. I fell in love with Vesper… 007 in New York is also one of my favourites, I would like to see it on the big screen. I have also read some of the continuation novels but the ones I enjoy most are those by Anthony Horowitz, especially his latest one, Forever and a Day. Horowitz is one of my favourite writers … I just finished The Sentence is Death and it fascinated me.
007. Do you plan on writing another book?
I don’t think so, at least for now, but never say never! I think that with James Bond: Behind the Tuxedo I have covered all the topics that interest me, but maybe in a few years I will return, either with or without Bond.
Luis Abbou Planisi published his first film review in a magazine when he was just 15 years old and became a Bond fan thanks to a chance meeting with actress Dame Judi Dench at Harrods.
He is currently studying Creative Writing and English Literature at the London Metropolitan University, England. Luis lives in North London.