Cleese laments loss of Bond humour

John Cleese has criticised the later Bond movies for their over-long action sequences and for sacrificing their British flavour to secure "big money" from Asia.

John Cleese starred in two Bond films
John Cleese starred in two Bond films

The Monty Python actor, 74, starred in two 007 movies, The World Is Not Enough, in 1999, and three years later in Die Another Day.

But he hinted to Radio Times magazine that he was dropped from his role as gadget inventor Q, in the long-running British franchise, partly because film bosses wanted to please audiences in Asia.

He suggested that the spy movies, which have enjoyed renewed success with Daniel Craig in the lead role, had dispensed with their subtle British sense of humour.

"I did two James Bond movies and then I believe that they decided that the tone they needed was that of the Bourne action movies, which are very gritty and humourless," he said of the thriller spy films starring Matt Damon, which have been a box office and critical hit.

"Also the big money was coming from Asia, from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, where the audiences go to watch the action sequences, and that's why in my opinion the action sequences go on for too long, and it's a fundamental flaw."

He added: "The audiences in Asia are not going for the subtle British humour or the class jokes."

Cleese's character did not appear in the recent Casino Royale or Quantum Of Solace but was resurrected by Ben Whishaw in Skyfall in 2012.

Cleese, who split from his third wife, Alyce Eichelberger, in 2008, also told the magazine that recent years had not been creatively satisfying because he was making divorce payments.

"The past few years have been rather disappointing because I've had to earn money for the alimony. Otherwise I could have been doing things that were more satisfying to me artistically," he said.

"In those days I had enough money, so I could do things literally on spec. With A Fish Called Wanda I didn't take a penny until we actually went round the studios saying, 'This is the script, this is the director, this is Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, me...'."

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