BBC America will explore the life of author Ian Fleming in its miniseries “Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond” — and it won’t necessarily be the most flattering portrait.
The four-hour biopic traces Fleming’s (Dominic Cooper) time as an intelligence officer for the British navy, his frustrations with his first career and the way he channeled them into creating his most famous character, James Bond.
“What’s fascinating is particularly in going back and looking at the novels again — the Bond films didn’t really emulate this at first, and they’re coming round to it now — but it’s a very dark, depressing, quite twisted character in ‘Casino Royale,’ for example,” director Mat Whitecross says Saturday (Jan. 11) at the TCA winter press tour. “Going back and looking at these scripts [for the miniseries], you get moments of Fleming’s life which are like Bond’s, and then he doesn’t come up to scratch, he fails. … In that sense, there is a connection between him and Bond.”
It will probably not surprise readers of the Bond novels that Fleming also had tumultuous relationships with the women in his life, starting with his mother. That aspect of the story drew in Lara Pulver (“True Blood,” “Sherlock”), who plays Fleming’s love interest-turned-wife, Ann O’Neill.
“There are four really strong female characters, and you get to see his very dysfunctional relationship with his mother, which is hugely influential therefore on his choice of girlfriend, and then [his mother’s] complete disdain — she doesn’t really approve at all of him marrying Ann O’Neill,” Pulver says. “There’s a really interesting dynamic in him finally standing up to his mother.”
Adds Whitecross, “His relationship with women was by modern standards very problematic. He was quite misogynistic, they had a kind of S&M relationship. Even now it’s quite shocking — they were both very forward-thinking for the time. … It feels in hindsight like of course she’d be attracted to this amazing, charismatic novelist. … But actually she was going out with the most powerful people in England.”
“Fleming” premieres at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday, Jan. 29 on BBC America.