Pierce Brosnan Championed Colin Salmon To Be His James Bond Successor, But How Close Was It To Happening?

Pierce Brosnan and Colin Salmon in Tomorrow Never Dies, pictured side by side.
(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

Trying to recast the face of the James Bond movies always leads to an intense field of competition. History has offered some interesting candidates when it came to the men who could have been 007, and one of the more recent examples is Bond vet Colin Salmon. The man actually impressed Pierce Brosnan so much that the actor championed him to be a James Bond successor. But how close was it all to actually happening? 

Colin Salmon stands smartly in the briefing room in Tomorrow Never Dies.

(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

How Close Was Colin Salmon To Being Considered For James Bond?

Before the world even knew that Casino Royale would be the next installment, Salmon’s name had come up in the running to become the next James Bond. Serving in the role of Charles Robinson, one of the MI6 family active throughout Pierce Brosnan’s era as 007, the Resident Evil actor carved out a rather unique niche in this closely guarded world. 

One only need look at the betting odds reported by Sky back in 2004, which saw Colin Salmon becoming a favorite for the role. That being said, we’ve seen first hand how actors like Regé-Jean Page and Henry Cavill can top the betting odds without any official word. 

So when Salmon was a guest on the Spyhards Podcast, he was asked just how close he’d officially come to wearing the tuxedo himself. In his response, Colin denied any official conversations ever taking place, while at the same time explaining what this discourse meant to him: 

No, not that I was privy to. No. Barbara was the first to intimate it actually, she was a champion of it. But it was just how do you do it, I think was the question at that point. … It was a difficult time in a way, because there was riding, it was a lot on it. I sort of felt the most important thing was to allow the debate to go on, because I met young people all over the place, black kids and stuff, who’d just go, ‘Hey, you could be James Bond.’ I’m saying, ‘Man, you could be James Bond.’ It was important, and it is, because if you can see it, you can be it. Psychologically, for me, I think I struggled a bit, because it just wasn’t going to happen. We weren’t so much into the social networks as we are now, but I did sort of have some pretty intense conversations, a bit of trolling, and a bit of people getting really angry about it. ... I didn’t play it up, I just carried on really. And I had some amazing experiences because of it, and they were always positive.

As previously mentioned, the hoopla surrounding Colin Salmon’s potential James Bond casting kicked up at a very uncertain time in the franchise. With Pierce Brosnan’s post-Die Another Day firing opening up the path to the next Commander Bond, it was a wide open field.

However, just as fans were skeptical of a "blonde Bond," Salmon personally experienced how fans were treating the possibility of the first black James Bond. Eventually director Martin Campbell screen tested eight actors, and Daniel Craig would emerge victorious. Meanwhile, Salmon would still have the support of his greatest defender, even into the following era of Bond films. 

Pierce Brosnan smirks in the middle of a crowded party in Tomorrow Never Dies.

(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

How Colin Salmon’s James Bond Experience Convinced Pierce Brosnan He'd Make A Solid New Bond

For Colin, convincing Pierce Brosnan he was ready to become the next James Bond helped him stay in the franchise for as long as he did. While originally not slated to appear in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, Colin Salmon was the first choice for a new role written for the film. What really landed him the gig, and Brosnan’s admiration, was the fact that Salmon had helped screen test the Bond Girl candidates for that very picture; including Monica Bellucci.

When asked if Charles Robinson was supposed to stick around throughout The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day, Colin Salmon admitted it wasn’t initially in the cards. Once again, a tale of Pierce Brosnan's generosity came up, thanks to Salmon telling the story of how he came back as Robinson: 

No, it wasn’t discussed. I didn’t know what the process was, so I just did [Tomorrow Never Dies.] It went really well, I mean the response to [Robinson] was great. Barbara was a champion, and I think Pierce saw the videos of me screen testing the girls, and that when he started to say, ‘God. Colin would make a great Bond.’ We’d sort of exacerbated and catalyzed the situation.

Catalyzing Salmon’s return to the Bond fold, Pierce Brosnan still championed his co-star’s potential promotion to 007 well into the Craig era. In a franchise that’s sparked many “what if” discussions about who could have played the lead, Colin Salmon is one of the most intriguing. Were he to have won the day, he would have been the first black James Bond, as well as the first to have been cast from within the inner workings. 

More importantly, with the results of his screen tests with the women trying to secure their own place in the Bond legacy, it sounds like Salmon would have been a fantastic 007 for the modern age. It’s a shame it never happened, but comforting to know that Pierce Brosnan was in Colin Salmon’s corner for the long run, and probably still is. 

For this story, and others, Colin Salmon’s full interview is now available wherever you ethically source your podcasts. And if you happened to miss the final film of Daniel Craig’s James Bond run, you can currently stream No Time To Die if you have a Prime Video subscription

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.