Capone talks with James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, and QUANTUM OF SOLACE director Marc Forster in London!!!
Published at: Sept. 25, 2008, 3:09 p.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
I've just gotten back from one of the singularly spectacular events I've ever been a part of in my 10 years at Ain't It Cool. First off, I should tell you (in case you hadn't noticed), I don't do much traveling for AICN; I've never done a set visit or an out-of-town junket or a convention of any sorts. But this year, I made a commitment to myself to get out of the Windy City and to get to more events. So far, I've limited myself to festivals and Comic-Con in San Diego. But last week, I went on a three-day adventure (there really is no better word for it) in London all on behalf of the new James Bond film QUANTUM OF SOLACE.
As I said, in the entire time I've been with AICN, I have never done a junket-related trip. Those tasks tend to fall to Quint, Moriarty, sometimes Harry, or Mr. Beaks. But with everyone tied up thanks to Fantastic Fest, the Bond journey fell to me. I'll have a couple of reports about some of the awesome shit we got to do (Bond fanatics will want to murder me…in a good way), but I want to start out with the real reason I went in the first place--to talk to Mr. Bond himself, Daniel Craig, and to the director of QUANTUM OF SOLACE, Marc Forster, whose previous films include STRANGER THAN FICTION, MONSTER'S BALL, FINDING NEVERLAND, EVERYTHING PUT TOGETHER, and last year's THE KITE RUNNER. Marc is an extraordinary filmmaker, who has made a series of very personal, sometimes emotionally wrenching dramas, as well as one very clever existential comedy.
First, a tiny bit of background. The reason this trip even happened is a bit of coolness and strangeness on its own. Craig, Forster, and several other cast members and behind-the-scenes types had all planned to come to Comic-Con in July, but for whatever reason could not make the panel happen. As something of a make-up gig, Sony Pictures brought out representatives from six movie blog sites to London to meet with Craig and Forster, not to ask our own questions (a forthcoming press tour will take care of that), but to ask questions submitted by readers of our individual sites. If you remember a couple of weeks back, I asked you all to submit questions for this opportunity. Each writer got to ask two questions per site to each subject. I know two questions each doesn't sound like much of an interview, but I have to say between the six of us, I think we covered the bases about QUANTUM OF SOLACE; Craig's attitudes about being James Bond; the changes both men were looking to make with this film; what they both love about the older films; and what we should expect from future films (Craig will return for more than one future Bond adventure; pass it on). Most importantly Craig tells us what its like to play a character known for such fabulous cocksmanship (or is that coxmanship?).
So here's how this is going to work. I'll present you my portion of the Q&A (two questions each) and I'll link to the five other sites Q&As as well. Remember, these are all reader-submitted questions from all six sites. We made an effort not to repeat questions or ask ones that would elicit similar answers. As a bonus, during Craig's interview, long-time Bond producer Barbara Broccoli (daughter of original Bond producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and head of Eon Productions) sat in with us and provided some bonus commentary.
Marc Forster is a really expressive filmmaker who knew exactly what he wanted for this film, even while he was working within the sometimes restrictive confines of this decades-long franchise. He was great fun to talk to, because it's clear he has a fantastic time making his first big-budget action film. He's also clearly a fan of all of the Bond films. Craig might have been the biggest surprise. Having recently had surgery on his right arm (for a long-term condition that needed fixing--the post-QUANTUM break in his schedule allowed him to finally have the surgery done), his right arm was in a sling but still made a point to shake everybody's hand with his left hand. Incredibly personal and down to earth, he's something of a contrast to the cucumber-cool character he plays. He doesn't come across as ridiculously polished; he's humble; he's apologetic if he thinks he's talking too much; and he has fiercely blue eyes--like Paul Newman blue. I only noticed and mention this because every woman I know who heard I was going on this trip wanted me to tell them exactly how blue Craig's eyes were. They are blue enough to swim laps in. But above all else, he was funny, friendly, and talkative. It's my understand that our six-person interview was damn near his first on behalf of this movie. Without further delay, here first is Marc Forster:
Capone: CASINO ROYALE had a near-perfect balance of action and character development. It seems that the action scenes actually have more weight the more invested we are in the characters. Does QUANTUM OF SOLACE have that balance, and how did you strike that balance? --
Marc Forster: Yeah, From my perspective I feel that I, I was able to achieve that balance, but I mean it’s really up to the audience to, to judge that, and make that decision if I achieved it [laughs]. I feel very pleased with it, and felt I was able to achieve the, the balance between character and action and, emotional content and I think it flows very well. Also I feel I tried to implement as much humor as I can without being too light. I think it’s trying to walk this very thin line between connecting with the character, being entertained, having some substance, but still have emotional complexity, still not take yourself too seriously, and that you still have a balance of that humor there, because I think it’s a very important component of Bond. Does that answer your question?
Capone: I think so. You’ve spoken about how one of the primary things that brought you to QUANTUM OF SOLACE was the particular visual style and how much you loved the look of the early-60s Bond films. What was it about this look that was appealing to you and how did you try and incorporate it into this film?
Marc Forster: I felt that in the early Bond films, like DR. NO, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, GOLDFINGER, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, and so on, production designer Ken Adam's production design was ahead of its time. It was really ahead of its time and, and I felt like it just had this really cool look from the sort of '60s and early '70s--the interiors and the furniture--so I felt that I wanted to have a bit of a retro look with QUANTUM OF SOLACE, but at the same time modernize it as well and juxtapose the two worlds against each other. The two other main inspirations came sort of from THE PARALLAX VIEW from Alan J. Pakula, the conspiracy thriller, and from NORTH BY NORTHWEST, Hitchcock. I felt like Hitchcock always was a bit of an influence on Bond, in general, even from in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, so I felt like it would be interesting to have some like trickle and have some influence of sort of Hitchcock into this one as well. So I took everything I loved about the old Bonds and about those other two particular movies, and include them and juxtapose them against the very modern world to which I’m drawn and where my aesthetic comes in, and have these two worlds clash against each other. And it created something I’m really pleased with, because there’s a certain way I paid homage to the movies I love, and, at the same time, I created my own.
Here is where to find the other parts to this interview. If I have the exact link to the story, I'll give that. If I don't, I swap it out when I get the link.
And now here are your two questions for Daniel Craig…
Capone: It seems like the earlier Bond films started losing their potency the more cartoony they became in terms of the villains and the gadgets. CASINO ROYALE was a welcome sort of slap back into reality. Do you prefer that the gadgets and the over-the-top villains be kept to a minimum as was the case with CASINO ROYALE?
Daniel Craig: Yes…kind of…yes I do. As I said, it’s extraordinary what technology does and I think that it’s not somewhere we’ve gone down. I think if we were to do a gadget film, we would have to do a movie about gadgets because listening devices--I mean I know very little but I do speak to some people who do know, and when they kind of start giving away bits of information about what you can do in a room like this--and I know got this room mic'ed up today. [laughs] Anybody who’s listening in, or listening from down the road, it’s just extraordinary and terrifying. And I think it’s too big a statement to make without making a really big statement in the movie. I’ve got no fear of it, it just has to be integral to the plot. It’s just that whole thing, which I loved in the older movies, where there’s the safe, DUNK! [mimics slapping on a safe-cracking gadget] and the button was like that and suddenly you can open the safe, it’s great. I think my Bond tends to sort of go down the sort of like: there’s the safe, there’s the plastic explosive, fucking duck, and we’ll and we’ll blow it open. Remind me the question again just so I just get the…
Capone: I was asking about whether you prefer the more minimalistic approach to the new films.
Daniel Craig: I’m easy. If we find the plot right, and I just think that’s really, for me, the most important thing, we’ve got to get the story right. And if it becomes about other things, it becomes distracting, then I’m not into it. If it becomes part and stays part of the plot, then it’s, in. I’m open to anything. I mean, we can go into space; I don’t care. As long as we feel it's totally the way the movie’s going in a suspense plot, part and parcel of the story and it makes sense.
Capone: Okay. As far as you know--and this might be posed to Barbara as well--will future Bond films be connected to each other, and if so is there a sort of story arc in mind or will they go back to stand-alone…?
Daniel Craig: You're trying to ask me if I'm going to be in the next one, aren't you. That is a really direct question. I nearly fainted.
Barbara Broccoli: Well he’s gonna be in the next one, and the next few. This is a continuation, but I think the story kind of completes here. I think you know we had a lot of unanswered questions at the end of CASINO ROYALE, and this story just kind of completes that cycle and will go on to other different stories from now on.
Daniel Craig: I think we all felt that there was something started, and I think that the Vesper Lynd relationship, which I think worked really well in the first one was such an important part of it that it would just be…and it’s not a criticism, but sort of just laying some flowers on a grave wouldn’t have worked. It needed to be kind of dealt with, and hence the title that everybody’s a little bit confused about, but it’s very simple. It’s just about a kind of closure. It's more than that but that’s what we felt we kind of thought; we thought, no, we can’t leave this alone we have to face this off so. And there was sort kind of cynical "Oh, let’s make a sequel that comes 10 minutes after." When we sat down and started talking about it, it just was just like, "This is what we should do; we should absolutely just finish this story off. So next time, we can start it wherever we want to start it.
Barbara Broccoli: And remember, CASINO ROYALE ends with "The bitch is dead." And you know that his heart's broken, and we don't really believe him when he says that. So this is sort of his journey to understanding what happened and putting it to rest.
Daniel Craig: It's still an action movie though, don't get me wrong. There are definitely explosion.
There's a bit of heartbreak, but there are lots of explosions. [laughs]
So that's Part 1 of my 007-related travels to London. Among the highlights of the rest of my trip: a tour of Pinewood Studios, a chat with James Bond Executive Producer Anthony Waye, English tea with Lucy Fleming (niece to Bond creator Ian), and me driving 150 mph in an Aston Martin and then slamming on the brakes. Or me driving an Aston Martin around some of the most dangerous roads I've ever been on at 70 mph. Or me driving an Aston Martin at 100 mph with my hands off the steering wheel. Or me in an Aston Martin catching air going over a hill. More to come.
One last thing. I'm actually typing this from my Upper Class seat on Virgin Atlantic (apparently Richard Branson has a cameo in QUANTUM OF SOLACE), the greatest airline in this crazy world that James Bond fights to keep free. If you ever get the chance to fly Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class, you must do it. I'm one of those freaks that can't sleep sitting up, but the seats in this section of the plane turn into beds. And there's a bar. And lovely flight attendants. And the Virgin Lounge at Heathrow Airport is fucking mind blowing. Don't get mad. This is the only time I've ever done this and probably ever will. Anyway, I'll be back in a couple of days with a little Bond-related treat for you, and then I'll move onto the reports.