This past week I jetted to London* with a small cadre of journalists to present questions to Daniel Craig and Marc Forster, the star and director of Quantum of Solace, the latest James Bond movie. And I say presented because these were not my questions – no, these were questions submitted by the fans and I would just be the intermediary. Like when Tangina was talking to Carol Anne in Poltergeist. Except that I got to go to London and drive an Aston Martin at 150 mph while the fans stayed home. It’s not a bad life.
I’ll go into all of my adventures in London at a later date (possibly on video – I shot some, but I don’t know that I’m cut out for this stuff), but right now I want to bring you the exclusive questions – submitted by CHUD readers! – and the even more exclusive answers. First up, Daniel Craig, who was quite taken by the vocabulary of the CHUD readership.
From the good people of CHUD.com: the classic Bond was known for his
cocksmanship [Craig erupts into laughter. He loves the word] but as we
progress socially that has started to look a little bit more
misogynistic. Does Vesper Lynd’s betrayal in Casino Royale explain that
part of his persona or is that something you don’t see this current
version of Bond you even having?
I’ve never been [interested in] shying away from it, I don’t think that we
should apologize for his behaviour. He’s a military man, was in the
service, and I think that there’s a certain amount of that within any
sort of military organization. It’s kind of the way he is. Things
that get in the way he wants to sweep aside. And whether that makes
him misogynistic or whether it makes him just what he is, it’s for the
audience to decide. But that’s it. I want to just kind of make it a
bit more kind of complicated than just plainly his cocksmanship
[laughs]. I’d to think that his cocksmanship was in good shape
[laugh]. But I’d like us to question it and I think that… I sensed
it on the last one but this one I think we got it even more. We had
this great thing is that M is Judi Dench. And because of that there’s
a balance that’s struck there because she will smack him on the wrist
and she will kick him into shape. And she’s genuinely the only person
on earth that he genuinely respects. So to have that he can’t be that
misogynistic. Do you see what I mean? However, who knows, I mean yes,
he’ll be a bastard [laugh]
In, Casino Royale Bond sort of made the transition from Cold War spy to more of a modern era, murkier world, agent -
Just as we enter another Cold War.
Exactly. The timing is amazing. The bad guys are more numerous,
motivation is a little less silly and more sinister. How does Quantum
Solace handle the moral quagmire that James Bond sort of he finds
himself in more in the modern world?
I think I’ve just been quoted recently and I’ve read this quote and I
keep on re-reading this quote and I sound like such a dick [laughs]
But what I was saying in this interview was that there is a place
within a modern democracy for an independent sort of… we have to have a
sort of non-political organization to sort of look after everybody’s
best interest and I think even more so now you just hope that they are
there. I mean hope is the word and that they’re getting it right and
they’re not being swayed by political or economic pressures. Of course
that’s bullshit cos of course they are, but you hope that there’s sort
of those that are individuals who take it upon themselves and look
after the common interest of our democracy, our way of life. So
probably even more so now and because of the way the world is I think
those figures are important. Heroes like that are important. Bond
came out of a post war period into a cold war but came more out of the
depression that [England] was feeling. I think that, with the knock on
effect of losing our empire, [which had] had crumbled, here was this
sort of man who worked for the government but knew what was right. He
knew what was right and did the job to save us all. I mean it’s hardly
been the newest story on earth but it has probably more relevance now.
If we get it right it will continue to have relevance.
I think that was an excellent answer. [laughs]
I was still thinking of cocksmanship.
A possible title for the third film?
I’m not gonna let that go. We’re not gonna forget it, I promise you.
Craig is an awesome guy, as you might have gathered from that exchange.
Next up, director Marc Forster. How proud am I of my readers? Well, we didn’t just have the best questions out of the whole group (like hands fucking down, no competition), the questions we got submitted were the sort of smart questions I always fear no one wants to read when I do interviews. Apparently you guys do want to read them. Or ask them, at any rate.
And yes, Forster did wear a scarf.
First question from the brilliant readers of CHUD.com: tell us about
your work with second unit director Dan Bradley. How specific are you
in terms of what you need in action scenes? Are you a control freak who
has to or wants to dictate how the action’s shot or do you leave it all
– shot composition, lens choice, timing – to Bradley?
I’m definitely a control freak, It’s very important to me. Dan Bradley
shot two major er sequences for me: the cat and mouse game of the
exterior aerial sequence, the plane sequence… He shot the plane
sequence in Mexico and then I shot the interior in Pinewood with
actors, so it was a combination of the two. We discussed it in detail,
what I would like and what I wanted, and then he shot the scene and
then we cut it together. In regard to the aerial sequence it’s harder
to discuss shot by shot because you’re up in the air and you just need
to get the balance right and things shift because maybe what was
previously discussed suddenly you can’t shoot because you’re shooting
in the air with planes, and maybe the plane can’t do it. So it was
basically just trusting him. We talked about what we both wanted to
achieve and the reason I hired Dan Bradley is because I felt like we
have similar aesthetic sensibilities and he would understand what I
wanted, and he really did. He is really brilliant in that, so he really
gave me what I wanted. We were on a gimble with the plane and could
simulate the exact flight path of the plane we shot in Mexico so the
actors could actually react and turn it and then fly the plane to the
exact same pattern that he shot.
The second sequence he shot was the car chase. Again, we shot the
exterior in Italy and some of the exterior there as well with Dan
[Craig] and some of the interior in Pinewood, it’s like a split thing.
And there again we discussed that a little more specific, sort of the
ideas and shots. But the other thing is cars are his specialty, so I
really felt like I trusted him completely. So these were the two big
sequences he did for me and it was a brilliant collaboration. You know
it was hard for me, it was the first time I ever worked with a second
unit director, I never did that before, so, but in general on a project
like this to relieve control over something is a little difficult
because I am a control freak. I like to, you know, control every
detail, but not just now with Dan [Bradley] but in general you have all
these units, like production design units, working ahead of you. You
have to make decisions based on photographs and pictures and you can’t
really be there and say ‘Oh I like, I like this design better than
this.’ To just see it on a photograph pinned on a wall is often very
hard, and that was a little tricky for me which I still didn’t totally
get used to until last moment I showed up on location and said but that
color didn’t look exactly like the color I saw on the screen. If I
would ever do another movie of this size it’s definitely something I
would er make sure that the schedule is such that I can actually shoot
everything and with first unit and I can be more in control of the
And our second question is, you brought in several collaborators from
prior films, most noticeably replacing Daniel Kleinman on the opening
credits, what has been their response to working on such an expansive
production, and have they brought something new to the way a Bond
picture is made?
When I first met with [producers] Barbara and Michael [Broccolli]it was
really key, very important for me that I were able to collaborate with
my own crew and with the people I made my past movies with; we have a
very close collaboration. I worked with NK12 on Stranger Than Fiction
on the entire graphics, and I really loved their aesthetics, so I
brought them first into reintroduce the graphics for Bond because I
felt like the graphics are an important element of story telling in a
Bond film, and I felt like on all the devices and gadgets there always
are graphics, so I felt they need to be really different and new and
interesting. Then secondly as we were working I felt they did such a
good job for me on the end credits of Stranger Than Fiction that I felt
that I wanted to collaborate with them and as I replaced a lot of the
crew from the previous Bond films and brought my own people in I felt
it really has to become my own movie, and I felt like NK12 is part of
my team. I wanted to introduce my vision for the front credits and they
knew what my sensibility was and I could collaborate with them on the
opening credits very closely, and I sort of basically brought them to
Panama and showed Barbara and Michael my the initial ideas we had as a
presentation, and they liked the presentation, and said okay you’re
welcome to move down the road with them.
We had a little time left at the end of the interview, so I followed up on something Forster had said in response to another fan question:
You mentioned earlier that working on this film was like being an artist under a repressive political regime with censorship. You are someone who works on smaller pictures where you’re the guy in charge, and yet you must have known that it would be different working in a producer-driven franchise.
Yeah, I was a little bit prepared, but Michael and Barbara really reiterated all the time that ‘You can bring your people, you can make your movie.’ I started making research on them before I got into the situation I heard that they’re very director driven, and I thought ‘Huh, that’s interesting, why they’re so director driven,’ but you know I, I just couldn’t, didn’t trust the entire thing. But I must say they really… I mean it was an incredible experience, it was creatively incredibly satisfying except of, you know, having all these units around the world. But apart from that I really made the movie I wanted to make, so if the movie doesn’t work it’s really my responsibility because they gave me the tools and the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. They supported me and fought for my vision to the end, and the great thing is why I put myself in this situation because before in all my films I had creative freedom, I had final cut, control; on this film they, on that size of film – over 200 million dollar movie – the great thing is about that they basically are the ones I’m dealing with. Usually on that size of movie I’m dealing with the studio and the bureaucracies of the studio and a room of executives asking me questions and, because it’s about so much money that there’s the anxiety and the pressure is so much higher. Here in this situation I’m just dealing with Barbara and Michael, and basically they’re dealing with the studio, but it’s their sort of the family franchise, and that’s makes it much easier because [if] I have an issue I can’t get done, I said ‘Look I need this, I need this, I need this, can you get it for me?’ And they say ‘Okay, let us look at it, we will try to make it.’ Sometimes, look we, you know, we had to make a compromise, it’s too expensive or can you figure out another way and then I have to go back to my team and we say okay look that’s a reasonable request, let’s figure out. The budget just can’t be unlimited, we have to figure out how we do it, and they were already very open because I wanted to shoot in Panama. It was very important for me to shoot in Colon because I think it’s a visual place, so stunning and interesting, nobody has ever shot there, but the city is controlled by four different gangs. [The production] built a soccer field and a playground for them, the gangs left us alone, they welcomed us, but there are not a lot of producers who say okay let’s go to Colon, Panama. They always tried their best to make everything work for me to make the film I wanted to make and that, that’s pretty extraordinary.
You can read the other sites’ questions at the following links (if there is no link it’s because the site hasn’t gone live yet – we’ll update it as soon as they do):
Ain’t It Cool News
* can you say ‘jetted’ to any location and have it be the same? I mean, you can ‘jet’ to an international metropolis, but would you say that you ‘jetted’ to Toledo?