It is no secret among GoldenEye fans that Michael France greatly contributed to writing the movie – he even outlined in a 2004 interview that he wishes he had gotten more credit for his involvement in GoldenEye’s script.

While many of France’s ideas did make it into the final version of our beloved Bond film, his original screenplay was quite different. It is freely available online, and if you don’t feel like going through the entire document, I listed some of the key points for you!

A much more “classic” Bond movie

To quote our dear Xenia Onatopp, this original screenplay was more “straight-up” than “with a twist”, using many traditional tropes of the franchise. Of course, the biggest change is Trevelyan himself: here, Alec has become Augustus, and he is much older than James. 006’s betrayal hits quite differently, as this earlier version of the spy depicted him more as Bond’s mentor. Rumour has it that Anthony Hopkins and Alan Rickman were once considered for the role, explaining the bigger age gap.

The film’s structure and the timing of the “betrayal” are also very different: the reveal of Trevelyan’s true nature happened prior to the events of the movie, and is only shown to us through a flashback – if you ask me, it makes things less personal, as Bond has had more time to process the news. But the flashback in itself is interesting: during it, 006 who faked being captured, mows down 003 and 005, all under Bond’s gaze – think The Living Daylights’ pre-title sequence, but more impactful. In an interview, Michael France revealed that he wanted to put forward the other 00s of the service, and this could have made for a fascinating addition. I called the original script “classic” as by the time the events of GoldenEye begin, Augustus Trevelyan has retired to Russia, where he has become the mastermind of a SPECTRE-like organisation. He is even offing his own minions during meetings at his mansion, like a wannabe Blofeld!

The first script has a more nostalgic feel than the final version, with Augustus hoping to pit the Russians and British against each other, much like in From Russia with Love. His masterplan still involves using a satellite, called Tempest, but this time, he aims at destabilising the world currency by attacking the World Trade Centre – which would definitely not have aged well, so that is one change we can all be grateful for.

A change in character(s)

Speaking of classic, Xenia’s role was also a lot tamer in this script, which overall makes her a more straightforward femme fatale who enjoys dispatching her enemies thanks to a heart-pressing technique. She is closer to Thunderball’s badass Fiona Volpe than to the over-the-top maniac we (luckily) ended up with.

The same can be said about computer programmer Natalya, originally a cryptographer named Marina, who helped to create the Tempest. Her part here is a lot less developed, and while she does get betrayed by a coworker, we actually only see the aftermath, when she is captured and taken away. Marina’s role could remind 007 fans of Kara Milovy, as she too escapes an assassination attempt. The Bond girl already had a headstrong personality, but has less agency in this original draft, making her closer to the typical “damsel in distress” trope. As a fan of Natalya’s character, I am quite happy she was ultimately given more screentime and things to do!

The original GoldenEye script still has many ideas that I wish we had been able to see on screen, including a badass, knives-obsessed henchman called Savatier. This mute assassin has creative ways of killing disobedient subordinates, and is described as having prominent scars on his throat – which makes me think that we could have seen two mute and scarred henchmen in 1995 (fellow Die Hard with a Vengeance fans, this one is for you!).

But How Ultimate Would it Have Been?

Action-wise, the original script was pretty packed, with lots of plane chases, a climax on a satellite dish and some helicopters featuring buzzsaws which could have inspired The World is Not Enough four years later. Hardcore Bond fans could even have enjoyed a small nod to Live and Let Die, with the climax happening on the island of St. Latrelle (the real name of Solitaire in the book was Simone Latrelle, and this doesn’t seem like a coincidence!).

Throughout the story, Bond seems to be more in control of the situation, when most people often forget that in GoldenEye, 007 spends half of the film trying to figure out what is actually going on and who Janus really is. Overall, this first draft had lots of creative ideas and fun references to the franchise, but feels like it would have been more appropriate for a Bond actor’s second or third movie. In it, 007 doesn’t go through a lot, unlike in the final version of GoldenEye, where he is betrayed by his friend and has to convince M that he is trustworthy.

This initiatory journey is part of what made that film a significant and successful first entry for Pierce Brosnan. So, it seems like we did end up with a script which was more of a standout that the first draft – but this was also courtesy of Michael France, who helped to write the final version and added his share of fun ideas to this iconic movie!