Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Skyfall"...the James Bond films will never die

"Next James Bond film Skyfall will have action as well as drama, says director"

Sam Mendes dispels rumours that Skyfall – the 23rd James Bond film – is to focus on more serious themes


Mark Brown

November 3rd, 2011

It will be called Skyfall and have plenty of action as well as glamorous Bond girls, a foreign-sounding villain and Daniel Craig's contractual obligation to remove his shirt.

The producers, director and cast for the 23rd James Bond movie gathered in London on Friday to launch the next 007 outing after economic woes at MGM caused a longer than expected gap of four years.

Craig said it was their intention "to make the best Bond movie that we possibly could. Bond with a capital B."

Little detail was given but director Sam Mendes said there would be lots of surprises. He was also especially keen to dispel talk that he was planning to cut down on the action. "I'm incredibly excited to be doing it and it has, I think, all the elements of a classic Bond movie including, to quell rumours, a lot of action and many other things too."

However, the action would not dominate. It needed to "co-exist with the drama", he said. "That's the balancing act to strike."

The launch was held in the ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel near Trafalgar Square, reflecting the fact that some of the scenes will be filmed in Whitehall. Mendes said Bond would also travel to China, Turkey and "the wilds of Scotland".

Craig will be playing Bond for the third time and Dame Judi Dench will be the character's boss, M, for the seventh time.

Other key cast members include British actors Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw in roles Mendes declined to elaborate on.

Javier Bardem was, however, confirmed as the villain. Whether he will, as rumoured, play the cat-stroking psychopath Ernst Blofeld is another question.

The latest women to step into the "Bond girl" role include French TV actor Bérénice Marlohe playing a character called Sabrine and the British actor Naomie Harris, who will play a field agent called Eve. Rumours that her surname will actually be Moneypenny remain unconfirmed but Harris did suggest her role would be action-packed. Asked what training she had undergone Harris replied: "Yoga, three times a week and also stunt driving, firing machine guns – which I've discovered I have a real taste for. All the stunt training as well, leaping out of cars, running up stairs very fast and things like that."

One reporter was keen to know if Craig and Bardem would be taking their shirts off. "Damn right," said co-producer Barbara Broccoli. Craig shrugged and said it was "part of the gig".

Much of the project is still veiled in secrecy although Mendes did say that it will be a self-contained story, not connected to either Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace.

All that is known about the script – written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan – is that it involves a ghost coming back to haunt M which tests Bond's loyalty to her. The producers add: "As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost."

Mendes said it was a privilege to be directing. "I've always been a huge fan of Bond movies as a child and of course every English schoolboy grows up with them. In a sense they're part of my life. This is an enormous challenge and one I'm extremely pleased I've taken – thus far."

Broccoli, daughter of the original producer 'Cubby' Broccoli, said she hoped Mendes would direct more Bond films and said his "boyish excitement" had been infectious. "And he's assembled this extraordinary cast, so we're thrilled."

There were no surprises as the title Skyfall was actually revealed. As co-producer Michael G Wilson admitted, it was the "worst-kept secret" in the industry.

But what does Skyfall mean? It is not something ever written by Ian Fleming and Broccoli would only say: "It has some emotional context which will be revealed in the film. You'll have to wait and see."

That the film is being made at all – with the same rumoured budget of more than $200m (£125m) – is down to the tenacity of the producers who kept plugging away after financial problems at MGM led to the studio filing for bankruptcy last year.

Wilson said the economic climate had not affected the film. "We haven't had to change anything in the script – in fact we keep on adding things. We haven't had to sacrifice anything."

The arrival of Craig in 2006 has led to a more grown-up, more believable Bond – fewer gadgets, less quipping. Wilson said they were sticking to that formula. "With Casino Royale we started on a path, we're sticking to that path of an interesting story, a great cast and plenty of action."

Shooting begins on Monday and it will be released in the UK next October, 50 years after Sean Connery appeared as Bond in the very first 007 film, Dr No.

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