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Question Time – In conversation with Murray Gillespie

Although a 007 plot was never officially set in Canada, the fan base is as strong as everywhere else. Bringing fans together and calling the countries largest Bond collection his own is Murray Gillespie, founder of ‘James Bond Canada’.

The Bond Bulletin: Murray, in 2010 you launched ‘James Bond Canada’ where you blog about all things 007. Every life of a fan begins with the first contact – can you take us from there to becoming Canada’s foremost James Bond expert?

Murray Gillespie: I guess my Bond adventure began at the age of 9. I went to the drive-in with my sister and saw The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. As I became a teenager, my interest in the 007 franchise grew. By 1983 I was already collecting 007 posters and by 1985 I had attended my first local premiere in Ottawa, Canada. I was lucky enough to attend the 25th Anniversary Bond Exhibit in New York in 1987 at the MOMA, which really gave me the Bond Bug!!

When I got to university, I became the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the newspaper and began communicating with MGM Studios. I received Press Kits & Bond swag that I still have in my collection today. After many years of following Bond and collecting along the way I’ve managed to connect with the amazing Bond community worldwide. Through the internet and Social Media my partner at ‘James Bond Canada’, Jeff Wybo and I have established a Bond presence and community here in Canada.

The Bond Bulletin: You have been to several Bond film premieres. Your first time, as you mentioned, was A View to A Kill and you had won the invitation on the radio. Skyfall was your first Royal Premiere at Royal Albert Hall in London, Spectre followed. Walking the Red Carpet at an event like this must be immensely thrilling for a fan. How was that experience for you? I bet there must have been a lot of different feelings at the same time? How were your interactions with the stars and fellow fans?

Murray Gillespie: Stepping on to the Red Carpet at Skyfall was absolutely the most glamourous night of my life. I was very nervous and overwhelmed by the experience, but after a few minutes the butterflies went away and I began to really enjoy myself. I managed to get a few great pictures and I even made a Red Carpet blunder, by accidentally calling Shirley Eaton from Goldfinger…Honor Blackman…OOPS 🙂 That evening allowed me to meet many Bond friends from all over who I’d been communicating with for years, but had never met until that evening. It was truly an incredible experience.

Murray Gillespie at the Premiere of Skyfall in London in 2012

The Bond Bulletin: Can you tell us a little about the Bond fan base in Canada? From what I saw, you regularly host meet ups in different cities for fans to come together. So I’m guessing, you must be quite fond of meeting other fans, hear their stories and sharing opinions on 007 while at the same time forming a community together?

Murray Gillespie: The Bond community in Canada is strong. We just had our first meet up in Toronto recently and it was a big success. Many of you may be familiar with Britton Walker form the ELLEN Show…Canada’s youngest Bond expert. We met a couple of years ago and it is a big thrill for us to engage with Canadian Bond fans. It reminds me of how exciting and new all things Bond are to a young fan, and I reminisce about being a young 007 fan myself.

The Bond Bulletin: You also have a memorabilia collection which is the largest in Canada. Are there any particular items you focus on when collecting?

Murray Gillespie: My Bond Collection consists primarily of Bond books and novels, Bond music and soundtracks, programs, memorabilia and rare promotional items…and of course the posters. I’ve always enjoyed collecting posters because it was the poster artwork of 007 that first excited and intrigued me.

The Bond Bulletin: And what are your most prized possessions and how did you get them?

Murray Gillespie: Some of my most prized items relate to the premieres of the Bond movies as well as autographs and rare invitations acquired through various auctions and a lot of hunting around in old theaters across the United States.

The Bond Bulletin: Would you say, a collection like this could be referred to as an investment? Surely, many items become more valuable over time?

Murray Gillespie: There are many of the items in my collection that have increased in value over the years, so I definitely consider it an investment. I call it my Big Bond Faberge Nest Egg.

The Bond Bulletin: Assuming Eon Productions would ask you to help them clear out some items of their precious props storage, what props would you happily take home with you? You can select pretty much anything that has been seen on screen – from models to decorative items, furniture, costumes or weaponry.

Murray Gillespie: There are 2 things I’ve always wanted…Rosa Klebb’s spiked shoe from From Russia With Love and the Goldfinger homing device that fits in Bond’s shoe. I guess I have a thing for Footwear. And don’t ask me why, but I really want the two white plastic lounge chairs from Stromberg’s lair on which he ties up Anya in The Spy Who Loved Me. Very 1970’s aesthetic and super cool.

“There’s lots of debate on the best & worst of Bond, but I still believe that 1964’s Goldfinger is one of the best films ever made.”

The Bond Bulletin: With Canada being part of the Commonwealth of Nations and Her Majesty the Queen as head of state, Bond should feel right at home. Why do you think Canada never featured as a plot location for a Bond film? If you could recommend a particular exciting location to the producers, which one would it be?

Murray Gillespie: There have been rumours that Bond 25 would film somewhere in Canada, and I think that would be amazing. I would recommend Banff or Jasper, and of course Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal. It’s disappointing that 007 has never officially made it to Station C Canada, but we are very proud that the Opening Ski Sequence from The Spy Who Loved me was filmed here on Baffin Island in the North West Territories. Such an iconic and unforgettable intro to the film…and every time I see it I think of Canada.

The Bond Bulletin: In film historic terms, would you rank at least one of the James Bond films as one of the best films ever made? If so, why?

Murray Gillespie: There’s lots of debate on the best & worst of Bond, but I still believe that 1964’s Goldfinger is one of the best films ever made. It is the quintessential spy thriller, set in the 1960’s, with beautiful girls, a porcine modern Midas and a suave British spy. It captures the essence of the spy genre and still holds water against any of the films of today. With the warblings of Shirley Bassey and the big brass over the opening credits…you still can’t beat that kind of classic cinema.

The Bond Bulletin: Where do you think the Bond franchise is heading beyond Bond 25 which will start shooting soon? Would you like to see the story arcs of the Daniel Craig era continue, have 007 fulfil an isolated mission or even introduce a new actor?

Murray Gillespie: I’d like to see BOND do something bold and unexpected. However this type of thing doesn’t always sit well with 007 fans as many are addicted to the Bond Formula. I have a feeling Bond 25 will have a lot of new things..as Spectre wrapped up a lot of loose ends from the previous four Craig films.

Perhaps Daniel Craig’s last movie will open new doors and create a springboard for the franchise to continue while still giving Bond 25 a clear concise story with a good script that will feel like an ending and also a new beginning.

“The films from GoldenEye to Die Another Day were, in my opinion, Bond’s worst period and too “all over the place” with no clear direction.”

The Bond Bulletin: Looking at the 57 year history of the James Bond franchise, in what field(s) would you say that the films have gone through the biggest evolution?

Murray Gillespie: I think that the Bond franchise lost it’s way in the 90’s. Despite an attempt to ground the stories in reality, it just didn’t work. Movies from the 60s, 70s and 80s are inherently different because time moves on. Connery was the Cold War Bond, Moore had the humour and suaveté that made the movies a bit more fun.

Thankfully, by the time Craig took over in 2006, decisions to reboot the character succeeded and when Skyfall became a Billion Dollar Bond film…it was evident the right choices were made. The films from GoldenEye to Die Another Day were, in my opinion, Bond’s worst period and too “all over the place” with no clear direction.

The Bond Bulletin: Excluding the vehicles, if you could play around or wreak havoc with a gadget from any of the Bond films, which one would you pick and why?

Murray Gillespie: I’ve always had a penchant for the Wrist Dart Gun from Moonraker. I always imagine myself wearing it and accidentally shooting a piece of artwork with it at a fancy cocktail party and then simply laughing it off. Also very helpful should I ever find myself caught in a malfunctioning gravity simulator. And if someone parks too close to my car they would definitely find a dart in the windscreen (laughs).

Alright Bond fans in Canada – be aware when you run into Murray at a cocktail party or have your car parked too close to his! We would like to thank Murray for his time in answering our questions and wish him and ‘James Bond Canada’ all the very best for the exciting times ahead.

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