When you’re James Bond, the air of smooth and debonair action always follows you. Even on your first film, much as Pierce Brosnan found out when he made Goldeneye, there’s an expectation that when you’re on set, you’re Bond from head to toe. Which only makes the story of how the then-007 drove an Aston Martin with the parking brake on all the funnier and more revealing.
As he was recently part of Esquire UK’s watch along commentary for Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan doled out information and behind-the-scenes details that any Bond aficionado would love to hear. One memory that made its way into the conversation was the time when, in the early scene where Brosnan’s Bond arrives at a casino for a night of cards and witty repartee, he accidentally drove an Aston Marton DB5 in the most peculiar way.
The story starts when Pierce Brosnan is given the opportunity of a lifetime: to drive that Aston Martin back and forth for a very simple, straightforward scene:
Here we are, in Monte Carlo, and this is me now driving up. We were there late at night, after Midnight. And I drive up, and I get out, ‘Cut’, and they say, ‘Do you want to drive the car back?’ and I say ‘Yeah, I’ll drive it back’. So, I get out, do my little Bond quip, get back, reverse the car, go back to number one, starting position.
Even people who don’t have a connection to James Bond history at all would most likely say yes to such an opportunity. The DB5 is an iconic piece of automotive history, which was made uber popular after first popping up in 1964’s Goldfinger.
A gorgeous automobile, crafted by one of the most elite brands of luxury car in the world, it’s basically the car that makes anyone who sits in its driver seat a secret agent. Take a look at it for yourself, in the clip from Goldeneye below:
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Aston Martin DB5 has appeared in eight James Bond films since its introduction, including its upcoming reappearance in this year’s 007 mission, No Time To Die. So by the time Pierce Brosnan got to drive it, it had an amazing reputation. On loan from a private collector, the Goldeneye car had only one appearance in the entire film, due to a deal BMW made to ensure that a Beemer would be Bond’s primary brand of automobile for three of Brosnan’s four Bond films.
All it took was that one scene to yield a very embarrassing moment came to Pierce Brosnan’s attention in a fairly traditional manner: he smelled something burning. And he probably wasn’t the only person who noticed, as this story continues to progress with an audience:
Well, we did this about five, six times, and on the sixth go-round I could smell burning. Now, there are many people gathered to watch this; hundreds of people around the casino. And the man who owns the car is there, watching his beautiful vehicle being driven by yours truly. I’d left the handbrake on.
So not only did Pierce Brosnan drive an Aston Martin DB5 with the handbrake on, but he did so in front of the person who owned the car he was unintentionally straining. Not to mention that scores of people who wanted to see the next James Bond film in production; a feat that seemed almost as if it was a miracle in and of itself.
It may not be as traumatic as, say, burning your head during the production of a James Bond movie, but it’s an embarrassing situation, to be sure. Still, Pierce Brosnan handled the moment like he would handle any of the pitfalls and perils his Goldeneye mission would present him. With charm and stealth, Brosnan’s next move went something like this:
I thought, ‘Oh my god.’ And I said after the sixth take, ‘Alright, we’ve got the shot’, and I scarpered off into the night. I’m sure [the vehicle’s owner] was taken care of by the company, I hope he was anyway.
At such a crucial moment in James Bond history, with the character emerging from a six year hiatus due to legal issues, a mistake like this could have turned Goldeneye into a sore spot that could have sank the franchise. But as Brosnan himself suggested, those in charge of the production’s piggy bank must have taken very good care of the private collector they borrowed this historic vehicle from.
Goldeneye would go on to be the fourth highest-grossing film of 1995, and a gigantic success in the James Bond canon at the time. Pierce Brosnan would continue to make his way into the history books with his three subsequent 007 adventures after that point, ending his tenure with 2002’s Die Another Day.
It all came from the fruits of Goldeneye’s labor, embarrassing driving faux pas and all. So if there’s ever a time when you feel you’ve done goofed up in a monumental and tremendous way, just think to yourself, “What would James Bond do?” And, if you’re able, button your coat, nod at the company you’re currently in and tell them “We’ve got the shot,” proceeding to the nearest exit. It might not work every time, but surely it couldn’t hurt, could it?
Goldeneye is currently streaming on Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu.