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Goldeneye Actor Alan Cumming Had A Triumphant Bond Audition, But Recalls He Was Battling Suicidal Thoughts At The Time



(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

The success in relaunching the James Bond franchise with 1995’s crucial entry Goldeneye wasn’t merely built on Pierce Brosnan’s sterling debut as 007. He was the nucleus of a wide array of supporting actors who played equally memorable characters that took the stage in director Martin Campbell’s first turn as a Bond director. One of the most notable was actor Alan Cumming, who had a triumphant Bond audition, yet recalls that at the time, he was battling suicidal thoughts. 

Alan Cumming talks about the experience in his new memoir Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life (via Insider), which is the follow-up to his previous memoir Not My Father’s Son. This time around, the legendary actor discussed how his career helped him navigate the personal highs and lows of his life. The latter is represented partially in his story of how his audition to play the weasley techno henchman Boris Grishenko was an act in more ways than one:

I had auditioned for the part the summer before on one of the darkest days in my personal fog. The day, in fact, when the shadow of suicide had entered my mental periphery. I was probably in the room about half an hour, chatting with the director, Martin Campbell, and one of the producers, Barbara Broccoli, but my feigning of enthusiasm, lucidity, and, especially, emotional balance in those 30 minutes may rank as one of my greatest performances ever.

Alan Cumming has always approached stories of his own life with openness and candor, which is what makes his memoirs such intriguing reads. Laying out his personal life in full detail helps understand the man behind so many amazing roles, like Nightcrawler in X2. It also leads to moments like the time that Cumming did not mince words when rejecting a role in the Harry Potter franchise.

Interestingly enough, the nonchalant approach seems to be the best way to enter the James Bond series. Daniel Craig seemed pretty nonplussed in the beginning, as he was initially ready to turn down the equally pivotal Casino Royale, until he read the script. In Alan Cumming’s case, masking his inner pain through auditioning for a 007 movie seemed to have helped him get the part, which gave his fans, and fans of Bond, a very memorable henchman that you couldn’t help but love: 

Highlighting Alan Cumming’s acting process and how it helped conceal his suicidal thoughts isn’t meant to make light of the challenges that he’s faced. Cumming himself has even said on record that his acting career helped him overcome some of the darkest moments in his life, and his story above is further proof of that success. Though he may have put on his “greatest performance” when it came to auditioning to play Boris, the actor bagged a role that would help make him famous, injuries and all, thanks to coloring the universe of 007 with an invincible shade of baddie. 

Fans who are looking to revisit the antics of Alan Cumming’s Boris Grisheno in Goldeneye can do so thanks to Prime Video and Pluto TV, at the time of this writing. More recently, Cumming was spotted on Apple TV+’s musical parody Schmigadoon!, which is currently streaming on that very platform. Should you want to read more about the actor’s life through his career, you can pick up Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life, as it’s available at all fine booksellers. 

CinemaBlend’s James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.

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