Thomas Crown & The 007 Affair

Probably the most obvious connection between the fictional style icons James Bond and Thomas Crown is that Irish actor Pierce Brosnan has played both roles, having portrayed 007 between 1995 and 2002, whilst squeezing in an appearance as Thomas Crown in the 1999 remake of the original film. However, the link between the two characters began much earlier.


Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1999)

In 1967, Boston-based lawyer Alan Trustman wrote his first screenplay, “The Thomas Crown Affair”. It was written in 30 days. The story was specifically built around the world-famous actor that producer, Walter Mirisch, and director, Norman Jewison, assured Trustman would be cast as leading man…. none other than the late, great, Sean Connery.


The Thomas Crown Affair screenwriter Alan Trustman

Having just completed the filming of the 007 movie, "You Only Live Twice", Connery was said to be exhausted and in no hurry to get back on set. He eventually declined the role of Thomas Crown (a decision that he later regretted). Waiting in the wings was another global movie star - Steve McQueen.


Connery was exhausted after filming "You Only Live Twice" (1967)

Mirisch and Jewison informed screenwriter Trustman that there was going to be a change of personnel. He was not impressed. Previously, McQueen had only played the part of blue-collar characters, and Trustman didn't believe he could convincingly portray the polished figure created in his screenplay. There is some irony here in that Ian Fleming had similar feelings about Connery being cast as James Bond in 1961.


McQueen in "The Sand Pebbles" (1966) for which he received his one and only Academy Award nomination

With a new actor lined up, Trustman demanded a new script. He spent a week of 16-hour days at the United Artists studio in New York watching reel after reel of McQueen movies, carefully noting what worked well for the star... and what didn't. The screenplay was rewritten and presented to McQueen for approval. He loved it - telling friends, "I don't know how, but the son of a bitch knows me".


McQueen and director Norman Jewison on set.

The final transformation from rebellious action hero to debonair playboy not only involved a change of script, but also a serious wardrobe consideration. In much the same way as Connery was dressed in bespoke finery by Anthony Sinclair to become Bond, McQueen was introduced to British tailoring legend Doug Hayward to be suited for the role.... and what a fine job he did. Hayward went on to produce the clothes for Michael Caine in The Italian Job the following year, but waited over a decade before becoming James Bond's official tailor - dressing Roger Moore in "For Your Eyes Only" (1981). 


Steve McQueen suitably attired by Doug Hayward

The Thomas Crown Affair was a success at the box office, grossing $14m on a $4.3m budget. Although it received mixed reviews from critics, it is undoubtedly one of the most stylish movies ever made, and the chemistry between McQueen and Faye Dunaway clearly worked. The major success of the film at the time was actually the music by Michel Legrand, who was nominated for Academy and Golden Globe awards for Best Original Score and won both for Best Song with "The Windmills of Your Mind". To continue the 007 connection - he later went on to write the theme music for "Never Say Never Again" (1983) which unfortunately didn't meet the same level of critical acclaim.


Steve McQueen in "Bullitt" (1968)

Following the success of The Thomas Crown Affair, Alan Trustman swiftly moved onto the next project. He wrote "Bullitt" in 20 hours. The film grossed $62m and Trustman became Hollywood's highest-paid screenwriter. He wrote "They Call Me Mr Tibbs!" in 1970, but the same year disagreed with Steve McQueen over the plot of his ill-fated passion project "Le Mans" and turned down the opportunity to write the screenplay. After that moment, he was no longer known as Steve McQueen's writer and, as he put it, "The phone stopped wringing". 


Steve McQueen in "Le Mans" (1971).

Four years after the Steve McQueen affair ended, Alan Trustman left the movie business. In 1974, he became an officer, executive committee member and director of World Jai-Alai which became a highly successful public company operating pari-mutuel facilities. He left in 1978 and then spent most of his time trading currencies and precious metals out of Geneva. 


Alan Trustman (Born December 16th 1930)

At the time of writing, Alan Trustman (aged 93) was living in Fisher Island, Florida. I am not sure if his writing days are behind him - perhaps he could be persuaded to make a comeback and pen the screenplay for the next James Bond movie - on past performance it would only take a few hours of his time.

← Older Post Newer Post →