AVTAK and the truth about Bowie's rejection of 007

Hi there, lovely to be part of this new upgraded community.

When Roger Moore died this year I penned a couple of articles, hoping to get to the bottom of Bowie’s friendship with Rog and his withdrawal from being cast to play Zorin in AVTAK. I do hope you like them:

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“Thin White Dame?” Is that really a thing?

Anyway, as intrigued as I was at one point with the idea of Bowie in a Bond film, in hindsight I think it’s just as well he (or Sting) didn’t do it.

First, the Moore era is already criticized for exploiting the fad du jour (blaxploitation, kung-fu, Star Wars), and an “MTV Bond” would have been the most blatant and shameless example of that, ever. It would have been hard to defend charges it was a naked cash grab on Cubby’s part.

Second, as much as Roger is beaten up for his age in AVTAK, it would’ve been ten times worse if everyone else in the cast was a rock-and-roll avatar of the youth culture. He’d have looked as awkward and out of place as Ed Sullivan sharing the stage with the Rolling Stones.

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say Bond only works against older adversaries, but there is a certain energy to the early entries, with Bond taking on older, imposing figures like Goldfinger and Blofeld, needling his tweedy and straight-laced elder, Q, and maintaining a sometimes prickly relationship with father-figure M, that slowly gets lost as Roger’s adversaries and office mates become closer to his own age and, in the case of the villains, finally younger. It may not be a major or even conscious component of the Bond formula, but there is a certain appeal to having a youngish and resourceful Bond beat out older, more established and endlessly wealthy “establishment” types. It is much harder, I would argue, to get behind an elder Bond who puts the whippersnappers in their place and proves “the old ways are the best.”

Anyway, I really think it would’ve worked against Roger to construct an entire movie around the youthful MTV aesthetic and then plop a 58-year-old down in the middle of it.

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Interesting observations, thank you.

I kinda like Thin White Dame, so I guess I’ve made it a thing.

Reading between the lines, Duran Duran wouldn’t have been offered the theme had Bowie not withdrawn from the movie.

Christopher Walken wasn’t exactly a geriatric in AVTAK himself. He and Grace Jones were both younger and spry-er than Roger, so this movie already seemed like the Geezers of MI6 versus the younger, hipper Bad Guys.

Fair enough. Guess the (faked) white hair threw me. :slight_smile:

I was used to the Star Trek films having a (perhaps unintended) subtext of where only 7 members of Starfleet are competent and they’re all nearing retirement, but there’s a real cognitive dissonance to AVTAK, which labors mightily to get the youth audience in the door, only to tell them their grandpa is the cool one.

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Perhaps that would’ve been the case, but it would’ve been a mistake in my opinion.

It’s hard enough as it is to get past a pop star’s stage persona to believe they’re the character they’re portraying in the movie. Having them sing the movie’s theme works against that effort making the suspension of disbelief a virtually impossible task.

Caveat: Unless that character is a pop star and the theme song is something they also perform in the movie, in which case it helps ‘acting’ cause.

That’s probably true, but it would be cool to have had a theme song related from the perspective of the villain. I think it could be made to work.

Anyway, you can see where Bowie would’ve been a good fit for Zorin, with his vaguely Aryan looks, otherworldly mannerisms and mismatched eyes. He could pass as the product of Nazi genetic experiments.

At the same time, I can totally see where he’d be turned off by that pitch. “Hey, we want a genetic freak for our next picture, and we immediately thought of you.”

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Bowie would’ve been great… Walken was great…!

I guess if i could do it differently i’d have Bowie in AVTAK and Walken as villain would’ve massively improved any of the Dalton/Brosnan movie thereafter (except GE)

I am perfectly happy with what we got in Christopher Walken and Duran Duran. To me, it all worked out for the best.

That’s true, though he was four years older than Bowie.

I agree David, though I really like the Duran theme and can’t imagine the movie without it, and that hilarious video on the eiffel tower.

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I think Bowie would have been ok. Around the time he would have been 37/38 which is considered still young enough.

Even though I like and respect Sir Roger’s work, perhaps he should have hung it up after Moonraker when he was 52? Or FYEO when he was 54?

All through this thread Moore’s age has been exaggerated by at least a year.
As he was born late in 1927, he was still 51 filming MR - he didn’t turn 52 until several months after it was released. Same with the rest: 53 filming FYEO, 55 filming OP and 57 filming AVTAK.
I’ve read more than once someone asserting that Sir Roger was already 59 filming AVTAK - while at the same time convinced that he was younger than Sean Connery by the same number of years that he was actually older.
It’s like saying that, come my next birthday, I’ll be two years older than I am now (that’s next month, by the way, so if anyone is interested in standing me a round at the Lounge of Solace…).


Very good observation, completely escaped me.

Looks like I started the “bad math” thing, sorry about that.

I don’t think the real problem with AVTAK is Roger’s age, per se, but the fact that the entire enterprise seems so tired and stiff. Roger just serves as an easy target because he’s out in front under the spotlight.

I adore Roger, but there’s no denying he looks pretty worn out in many scenes. However, I don’t think this is a matter of age so much as illness. I seem to remember hearing he had the flu or some such during filming, and I think it resulted in weight loss and other issues that make him look really dissipated, sometimes alarmingly so. A couple years later (?) I saw him on a US morning show helping to cover the marriage of Andrew and Fergie and he looked 10 times better.

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Thanks for your contribution. The article states:

Shorty after the film’s unspectacular run at the box office, a 58-year-old Moore announced that AVATK was his seventh and final time as Bond.

That is correct.

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Roger Moore is a legend and is, and always will be, Ian Fleming’s James Bond

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