"I turned down Bond!"

The Constant Gardener helmer Fernando Meirelles on his rejected projects…

He first grabbed our attention by the throat with his Rio de Janeiro-set slum epic City Of God. Now Fernando Meirelles is back with The Constant Gardener, a stylish, superb adaptation of John Le Carré’s thriller.

And it’s not surprising that Hollywood – and Pinewood – has been calling. Particularly Eon Productions, owners of the Bond franchise – who apparently offered Meirelles the gig before hiring GoldenEye helmer Martin Campbell. "Earlier this year I was offered the new James Bond movie. The plot was going to be something like Bond Begins,” Meirelles told Total Film. “I thought about it for two solid hours before saying no. As I remember, it was going to be shot around seven different countries. I suggested Gael García Bernal for the role of Bond, and it was all set to start rolling as of last July.” Gael García Bernal as Bond? Genius, surely!

And the offers didn’t stop there. “I got a call yesterday from a US producer, offering me a movie about two traditional Tennessee families on the brink of war, something like Walter Salles’ Behind The Sun. It was a true story, about the beginning of the conflict, Brad Pitt was already in the cast. But what could I possibly add to a project on American history in the 19th century, in the heart of America? I'm not the right guy.”

He does have his own plans, however – to bring Hollywood to Brazil. “I'm in the game to make a Hollywood movie in Brazil. We are actually producing one of these right now, with Brendan Fraser, called Journey Into The Night. It's being shot in São Paulo. That's what I'd love to do, to bring this market into Brazil. When I was set to make Pompeii my intention was to shoot it in Campinas (the second major city in São Paulo state), building the sets right there. That was my goal. And the producers were about to greenlight it, but the script took a turn that did not interest me.”

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