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Essinger began as a successful Art film director who won awards at the Cannes film festival, whose success brought him to high budget films in Hollywood where he became addicted to cocaine, and his tendency for violent fits became apparent. His success streak was cut short after he cut costs on special effects by using inadequate scenic material to absorb the heat from explosions, which caused an accident that cost three lives, one of which was a major Hollywood actor. When faced with criminal prosecution, Essinger returned to France. After that funding for his films came to a halt, and his dealings with The Union began. Léon first became involved with The Union when he agreed to let them use some buildings on his studio grounds as a storehouse for some weapons. In exchange for this The Union killed two rival directors who were filing a lawsuit against Essinger for a breach of contract. After this was done, Essinger was seen as being indebted to the Union and was then commissioned to smuggle stolen canisters of the dangerous explosive CL-20 by listing them as special effects assets for his new film. Essinger remains oblivious to Bond when he infiltrates the set until he is informed by a Union worker on set. After learning this he orders for Bond to be killed. Bond escapes, but the crew are lead to believe that he died. Essinger confronts his ex-wife about it and claims that Bond had been a rival industry spy trying to ruin the film. After this, Essinger and some Union coordinators plan the bombing at the Cannes film festival that will make him a handsome fortune from insurance and inheritance from his ex-wife. While he is driven forward by the promise of money, Essinger doubts that he will be able to live with himself if he went through with it.