By Amy Ryan
August 10, 2005 at 12:00 PM EDT

Talking to EW’s Joshua Rich in this week’s issue, Pierce Brosnan (left) is still expressing surprise, a year after the fact, that the James Bond producers fired him from the franchise over the phone. ”After that kind of titanic jolt to the system, there was a great sense of calm,” says Brosnan, whose thriller Matador is due in November. ”I thought, F— it! I can do anything I want to do now. I’m not beholden to them or anyone. I’m not shackled by some contracted image. So there was a sense of liberation.”

Yeah, okay, we get it, Pierce, you’re never going to say ”Bond, James Bond” anymore. But I suppose he has to keep issuing these denials that he’ll return to star in Casino Royale, at least until the Bond producers actually hire a replacement. We keep hearing the same names as potential replacements (Clive Owen, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig), but as long as they’re making a change, maybe the Bond filmmakers should really shake up the franchise with someone completely unlike Brosnan or his predecessors. The Goran Visnjic rumor is intriguing, but why not go further afield and give Samuel L. Jackson the license to kill? Or Rupert Everett (but only if he gets to play 007 as gay)? Or Keira Knightley? Post your suggestions for the performer most likely to zap new life into the franchise; the more offbeat, the better.

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