- "There's no news...like bad news."
- ― Elliot Carver.
Elliot Carver is a fictional British media baron who acts as the main antagonist of the 1997 18th James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, portrayed by British actor Jonathan Pryce, and also appeared in Raymond Benson's accompanying novelization.
Elliot Carver was born in Hong Kong, officially an orphan. He is the illegitimate son of a German woman who died in childbirth and Lord Roverman, a press tycoon. A Chinese family took the boy for a one-time fee of 50 pounds. Thirty years later, Carver confronted and blackmailed Roverman into suicide and took over his media empire.
Elliot Carver went to college in Hong Kong and received a degree in the communication arts. He was hired as a meteorologist at a Hong Kong Television Station; a few years later, he became the anchorman of the station. He often sexually harassed his female coworkers, to the point that one of them fled Hong Kong to get away from him.
Elliot is also married to Paris McKenna.
In the present, Carver is a billionaire international media mogul of the German-based mass media company, the Carver Media Group Network. He frequently uses his influence to gain an advantage for his firm or wreak havoc on opponents. Moreover, CMG doesn't merely report the news – it creates it; CMGN is the first to report on scandals and disasters because it causes them to happen. A scene of Carver's daily teleconference with the various heads of his divisions demonstrates this: News of the Day – "floods in Pakistan, riots in Paris and a plane crash in California"; Software – all current releases of CMG's software are loaded with bugs that will force consumers to upgrade for years, etc. To boost his viewership, he instructs his head of television Tom Wallace to call the President of the United States and threaten to release scandalous photos of him with a cheerleader in a Chicago hotel room if he doesn't sign a bill lowering cable rates - and then to release the photos anyway when he complies.
During the CMG Satellite Network Inaugural Party, Carver denies a rumor to his guests that after British beef baron Sir Angus Black lost £10,000 in a game of poker to him and refused to pay up, he exacted revenge by releasing stories on Mad Cow Disease. He further claimed there was even less truth to the rumor the French paid him 100 million francs to keep the stories running for another year.
Attempt to provoke war
Carver attempts to provoke a war between China and the United Kingdom, which would lead to the replacement of the current Chinese government with General Chang, an associate to Carver who would allow his television network, the Carver Media Group Network, to secure exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next century, what the actual Chinese politicians have refused.
In order to start his plan, he sent American "techno-terrorist" Henry Gupta to purchase a GPS encoder (made by the American military) from a terrorist arms bazaar. Meaconing the GPS signal using the encoder, Gupta sends the British frigate HMS Devonshire off-course into Chinese-held waters in the South China Sea, where Carver's undetectable stealth ship, commanded by Mr. Stamper, sinks the frigate with a sea drill and steals one of its missiles. Afterwards, Stamper's men shoot down a Chinese J-7 fighter jet sent to investigate the British presence, and kill the Devonshire's survivors with Chinese weaponry.
M sends James Bond to investigate Carver after Carver Media releases news with critical details hours before these have become known, and MI6 noticed a spurious signal from one of his CMGN communications satellites when the frigate was sunk. Bond travels to Hamburg and seduces Paris Carver to get information that would help him enter Carver's newspaper headquarters. After Bond steals back the GPS encoder, Carver orders the deaths of Paris and Bond. Paris is killed by assassin Dr. Kaufman, but Bond kills Kaufman and escapes.
Investigating the Devonshire wreck in the South China Sea, Bond and Wai Lin, a Chinese spy on the same case, are captured by Stamper and taken to the CMGN tower in Saigon. Meeting with them, Carver reveals his plans to the pair and prepares to have them tortured. However, they manage to escape and subsequently collaborate on the investigation.
They find Carver's stealth ship in Ha Long Bay and board it to prevent him firing the stolen British cruise missile at Beijing. During the battle, Wai Lin is captured, but Bond manages to escape by using one of Carver's henchmen to fake his death. On the ship's bridge, Bond captures Gupta to use as his own hostage, but Carver kills Gupta, claiming he has "outlived his contract" as everything is now set up for the destruction of Beijing and the next stage of Carter's plan to provoke war. Although now cornered, Bond detonates an explosive, damaging the ship and making it visible to radar, and vulnerable to a subsequent Royal Navy attack. Carver eventually finds Bond and holds him at gunpoint, explaining to him that by destroying his stealth ship, he is also destroying any evidence of Carver's actions. Bond secretly activates the sea drill Carver used to sink the HMS Devonshire, and while Carver is distracted, Bond grapples with him and disarms him. He then holds a screaming Carver in front of the approaching drill, informing him that he forgot that the first rule of mass media is to give the people what they want, and releases him at the last possible second, allowing the drill to shred him to pieces while Bond escapes.
Bond's attempt later defeated Carver's plan by positioning detonators on the missile to ensure it would be blown up before it can launch. Although interrupted by Stamper who plunges Wai Lin into the water, Bond continues to place the explosives and confronts Stamper before saving Wai Lin from drowning. Both are protected underwater when the missile explodes, which kills a pinned Stamper and destroys the stealth ship.
Once Carver's plans were definitely foiled, M published a report that Carver had drowned during a cruise in his yacht and that the local authorities thought he had killed himself.
Raymond Benson's novelization to the film adds more background to Carver's pre-film biography. The film itself mentioned that he previously worked for a newspaper in Hong Kong, but the novel reveals that he was the illegitimate son of the British newspaper baron Lord Roverman and a German prostitute. His mother died in child-birth and his father paid a Hong Kong family to take him in. His foster father revealed on his death bed who Carver's father really was. Carver went on to become a TV anchor in Hong Kong until he went to England to notify his father that he knew who he was, and his father tried to bribe him into never coming back. Carver then met Stamper and had him follow his father, and Stamper discovered that Lord Roverman was having an affair with an American prostitute and that he enjoyed dressing up in a Catholic school-girl's uniform while she spanked him. Carver tortured his father with this information until Lord Roverman re-wrote his will to make Carver his sole heir. Roverman then went back to America to find that Stamper had already murdered his mistress. Stamper then gave Roverman a gun and pressured him to commit suicide which he subsequently did. Roverman's wife and daughter tried to contest his will as they did not even know of Carver's existence, but Carver won in court and inherited his father's fortune.
Personality & Appearance
Personality-wise, Carver is manipulative and vengeful, remorselessly murdering anyone he deems useless or a traitor. Carver is also vain and highly narcissistic, going so far as to decorate his headquarters and other places pertaining to his media empire, with tapestries and over sized banners that bear his visage.
It also appears that Carver has a rather unique affinity for television screens since all of his bases are saturated with unusually grand quantities of video screens, some large enough to cover several meter-high walls.
Physically speaking, Carver poses no real threat and would much rather rely upon his vast legion of henchmen before getting involved in any altercations himself. Possessing a rather wiry frame coupled with a thinning head of neatly trimmed grey hair, Caver (in traditional Bond Villain fashion) owns a series of identical black Nehru suit jackets which he wears on a daily basis. The media baron usually wears these vestments over a black mock-neck shirt and black dress slacks. His most distinguishing feature is perhaps, his reflective steel rimmed glasses with which he is never seen without.
Henchmen and Associates
- While many reviewers compared Elliot Carver to Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates, Feirstein based the character on Robert Maxwell. There is a reference to the mogul's death when M instructs Moneypenny to issue a press release stating that Carver died “falling overboard on his yacht."
- The role of Elliot Carver was initially offered to actor Anthony Hopkins (who also had been offered a role in GoldenEye), but he declined in favor of The Mask of Zorro.
- Carver, in announcing his hypocritical 'Declaration of Principles' on the abortive inaugural broadcast of his news network, is also reminiscent of fictional newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane, who in turn was based on real tycoon William Randolph Hearst, whom Carver paraphrases to Bond on his stealth ship.
- In early drafts of the film's screenplay, his name is Elliot Harmsway.