Skyfall: Everything We Know

A comprehensive (so far, so far as we know) guide to the upcoming Bond movie, courtesy of TotalFilm.

Daniel Craig is Bond

Daniel Craig is keen to stress that while his Bond has been following something of a character arc over the last few films, he will still be the same old badass we’ve come to know and love. “I haven’t changed his character,” he told us when we visited Pinewood earlier in the year. “He’s not in drag, he’s not doing anything that’s going to surprise people completely… but he has a great story.”

Craig has spoken about how the strength of the script is of paramount importance to his third Bond outing, revealing that the writer’s strike very nearly turned Quantum Of Solace into a total flop. “On Quantum, we were fucked,” he told Time Out last year. “We had the bare bones of a script and then there was a writers’ strike and there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t employ a writer to finish it. I say to myself, “Never again”, but who knows? There was me trying to rewrite scenes – and a writer I am not.”

However, this time out, he’s feeling far more confident. “Through a lot of hard work I think we’ve kind of got together a script that has a really strong bed rock of a story and something for all the characters – of which there are a lot in this movie – to sort of experience.  There are very personal stories in it and hopefully the audience will get affected by them and moved by them.”

Mendes was Craig’s choice to direct

Having endured the slightly shambolic creative process that went into Quantum Of Solace, Craig was keen to have more input in MGM’s general strategy for the franchise, and had a significant hand in ensuring Sam Mendes was picked to direct.

“He’s English, he’s Cambridge-educated, he’s smart,” said Craig of why Mendes was perfect for the job. “He’s lived with Bond all his life, he grew up with Bond the way I did. We grew up at exactly the same time, and I said to him, ‘We have to do this together, we have exactly the same reference points, we both like the same Bond movies and we both like the same bits in the same Bond movies we like.’”

“We sat down and we just rabbited for hours about Live And Let Die or From Russia With Love, and talked about little scenes that we knew from them. That’s how we started talking about it. That’s what we tried to instil in the script. He’s been working his arse off to tie all these things together so they make sense – in a Bond way.”

“I didn’t just say yes to doing a Bond movie, I said yes to doing a Bond movie with Daniel Craig,” says Mendes, returning the compliment. “I think that what’s interesting is you have an actor who is capable of playing the consequences of his actions as well as fulfilling those actions with great elan and cool. That’s always more interesting.”

Bond will swap Martinis for lager

Fans have been up in arms about one change to Bond’s character for Skyfall: as a result of a product placement deal with Heineken, 007 will be seen swigging a glass of lager rather than his usual Martini. However, Craig has brushed off such complaints in typical matter-of-fact style.

“We have relationships with a number of companies so that we can make this movie,” he said. “The simple fact is that, without them, we couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is. This movie costs a lot of money to make, it costs nearly as much again if not more to promote, so we go where we can.”

“The great thing is that Bond is a drinker, he always has been, it’s part of who he is, rightly or wrongly. You can make your own judgement about it. Having a beer is no bad thing, in the movie it just happens to be Heineken.” No potential unhappiness over whether his drink arrives shaken or stirred then. Let’s just hope Bond doesn’t object to a continental head.

The script will be funny

The delay was a blessing in disguise

It’s been four long years since James Bond was last on our screens in 2008’s Quantum Of Solace. MGM’s well-documented  financial troubles meant that production was suspended back in 2010, with a question mark over whether the film would get made at all. MGM eventually managed to haul itself out of bankruptcy, but the film’s 2012 release date was much later than had initially been envisaged. However, director Sam Mendes feels that the delay has actually worked to Skyfall’s advantage.

“It’s fair to say that there’s no screenplay that wouldn’t be improved by having a year more to work on it,” said Mendes in an interview with Collider. “I think it’s fair to say that without the extra time we wouldn’t have written such a good baddie, and I don’t think we would have gotten Javier [Bardem] to play him.”

Indeed, Bond films tend to live and die by their villains (Quantum Of Solace was particularly hamstrung by uninspiring eco-baddie, Dominic Green), and in Bardem, Mendes is convinced he has found the right man for the job.

Javier Bardem is Silva

“There’s been a while since there was what I would call a classic Bond villain,” muses Mendes. “ I thought Mads [Mikkelsen] was particularly good in Casino Royale. But I wanted somebody perhaps a bit more flamboyant, perhaps a bit more frightening, and so I felt like we needed a great actor to achieve that.”

Anyone who has seen Bardem’s performance in No Country For Old Men can vouch for the Spanish actor’s capacity to menace, but details concerning his character, Silva, remain frustratingly scarce. “I don’t know if he’s a good villain,” said Bardem, to MTV. “At least when we were doing it, we felt that it was fun to do and also kind of intense. I think the character is really complex; he’s not an easy guy. He’s not only a villain; it’s more than that, hopefully. I’m giving James Bond a hard time — that’s my job, that’s my duty”

What we do know is that he has a shocking blonde hairdo, a small price to pay for Bardem, who can hardly believe his luck at being cast. “It’s like a gift,” he says, with charming self-deprecation. “I’m 43 years old, so I remember going to see the Bond movies with my father and mother!” That’s about as much as he’s willing to divulge, so perhaps we’d better move on to his nemesis, a little-known secret service agent by the name of James Bond.

The story hinges on M’s past

Mendes and co. have been keeping plot details extremely close to their chests, although what we do know is that M’s past will come into play in a big way. “In Skyfall,” reads the official synopsis, “Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.”

Rumour has it that M is forced to step down at some point in the film, her position at the helm of MI6 swiftly becoming untenable. Could it even be a bullet from a silenced pistol that brings her reign to an abrupt end? Daniel Craig will only confirm that the plot is indeed M-centric, revealing that Skyfall will finally see Dench’s character out in the field.

“They’re very close, and they kind of basically go on an adventure together,” he says of the relationship between Bond and M. “She gets out in the field. Judi, she’ll tell you, she usually films most of her stuff in the studio like this while we’re all off in sort of some wonderful location, and she gets to go with us this time.”

Naomie Harris is Eve

Naomie Harris will follow in the illustrious footsteps of Eva Green and Gemma Arteton by playing Bond girl Eve, an ally of 007, who despite initial rumours, is not an incarnation of Moneypenny. “I don’t know really where the Moneypenny rumors started from,” says Harris, “but basically my character is Eve, and Eve is totally different. I’m a field agent, definitely, not a secretary.”

“She’s not there to wear slinky frocks and be sexy,” she continues. “She’s a capable woman out in the field.  She’s not necessarily a match for Bond, as such, but her ambition is to be as skilled as him in the field.”

To get to that level, Harris herself has had to undergo a hell of a lot of training, putting in some serious hours in the gym to hold her end up alongside Daniel Craig. “I’ve been training so far for eight months,” she says. “They gave me a trainer eight months ago and I’ve been working with her three times a week and sometimes five times a week as well.

“We moved onto kickboxing and stunt training generally, so some falls, some fighting, also learning to drive vehicles. I can drive, obviously, but doing it at speed and doing 360 turns and all those kind of things. Alongside that, a lot of weapons training. A lot of learning to fire rifles and Walther PPK handguns, Glocks, that kind of thing. Pretty intense. The most intense amount of training I’ve ever done for any movie.”

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