In 1967, Barbara Broccoli was in Sean Connery’s bed, the place where millions of women wished they could be.
One catch: Broccoli was only 7 years old then, accepting a favor from “Uncle Sean.” The girl was in Japan with her father, producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, on the set of his next James Bond adventure You Only Live Twice when she became seriously ill with tonsillitis.
“They were filming on a remote island where they only had traditional beds, the mats on the floor,” Broccoli said in a telephone interview. “There was only one Western bed flown onto the island, which was for Sean. He went to my mother and said Barbara’s sick, she can have my bed. My mother nursed me to health there.”
The perks of growing up in Bond’s movie universe haven’t ended. Before her father’s death in 1996, he turned over the Bond franchise to Broccoli and her half-brother, Michael G. Wilson. Currently she’s one of Hollywood’s most successful producers, with a reported net worth of more than $150 million and no end to Bond’s revenues in sight.
Skyfall’s co-star Bérénice Marlohe believes if Broccoli weren’t behind the camera she would make a formidable foil for James Bond.
“She could be an ideal Bond creature, Bond woman,” Marlohe said in a telephone interview. “So powerful yet so delightful. Barbara is an immense source of inspiration, just herself.”
Forget Judi Dench’s M., Broccoli, 52, is the undisputed woman behind James Bond, and it all began by being a daddy’s girl.
“I just wanted to be with my father as much as possible,” said Broccoli, who started her career at age 17, as a production assistant on The Spy Who Loved Me.
“Even before that I was always trying to be his secretary, taking his messages. Whenever I wasn’t at school I’d go to the office with him. He was very generous with his knowledge, and just sort of let me into his world.”
That meant becoming close friends with all the Bonds, even having a few innocent childhood crushes on 007s. “But they were all like uncles, part of the family,” she said, noting that growing up always “felt normal.” As a result, Broccoli isn’t certain when she became aware of the franchise’s cultural impact.
“I suppose it was when we would bring friends home, and they would go: ‘Oh, my god, that’s Roger Moore.’ Or you go to school and someone asks what your parents do. You start to find out because your friends are really amazed at your lifestyle.
“We sort of tried to play it down. But we certainly had fun birthday parties.”