Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(1956–     ): American humorist, columnist, screenwriter, producer, and director who wrote/cowrote GoldenEye (his motion picture screenwriting debut), Tomorrow Never Dies (sole credit), and The World Is Not Enough. Feirstein, who wrote a column for the New York Observer, was born in Maplewood, New Jersey, and started his career in advertising, working on the “Ultimate Driving Machine” campaign for BMW. His writing career took off in 1983 when he wrote the worldwide bestseller Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.

Feirstein came to the Bond series through his longtime friendship with top Broadway and film producer Fred Zollo, husband to Bond producer Barbara Broccoli. During the long incubation period of GoldenEye, Broccoli and Zollo had discussed the possibility of having Feirstein contribute to the script. Though he’d yet to have one of his screenplays produced, they were impressed with his screenwriting talent and saw that he had the sensibility they were looking for.

Feirstein understood the dynamic of Bond to a T. “Barbara Broccoli and I had talked about Bond many times,” he remembered. “I once pointed out something to her that I thought was wrong with Octopussy. In that film’s teaser, you recall, Bond’s baby jet is low on fuel, and he ends up taxiing into a rural gas station in Cuba and tells the attendant to fill it up. That wasn’t very Bondian. What he should have done was flown the baby jet into the rear of an in-flight C-5 transport plane, where he would be greeted by Miss Moneypenny, who would take him to his briefing with M. That was the way the original movies worked. The humor had to be smart.”[1]

In September 1994, Feirstein received a phone call from Barbara Broccoli informing him that he had a meeting the next day with GoldenEye director Martin Campbell. Suddenly, the fate of the GoldenEye script was placed in his hands.

Feirstein was canny about his contributions to the screenplay, but he did admit that he came in primarily to work on the characters, including Bond; the third act of the film; and making the humor smarter. “My favorite scenes in the movie are the ones with M and Q,” he laughed. “Martin Campbell came up with the idea of making M a woman. My assignment was to see if I could make it work. M is not a Maggie Thatcher. She smokes, drinks; she’s tough. She’s not politically correct and she’s certainly not from the same old boys’ club as the previous M.”

As for 007 himself, Feirstein had a clear vision of the character for the 1990s and beyond. “In order for you to understand Bond, you have to realize that a lot of him is not on screen. There was a great deal of darkness in the original novels and in the first films. Sean Connery brought that to life. You really believed that this was a guy you’d love to go drinking with up to a point. You knew he was dangerous—he’s a man who lives every day of his life as if it were his last.”

Feirstein also described a scene between M and Bond in one of the GoldenEye drafts in which Bond says, “I’ve never forgotten that a license to kill is also a certificate to die.” Said the writer, “That’s the character. He’s someone who understands that and lives his life accordingly. During one of the love scenes, I heard someone on the set say, ‘This is a guy who isn’t sure he’s going to live for six months, what does he care about safe sex? His job is death.’”

[1] Bruce Feirstein, telephone interview by Steven Jay Rubin, June 1, 1995.


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