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HomeAwardsContender-Stuart Baird, editor, Casino Royale

Contender-Stuart Baird, editor, Casino Royale

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From Superman to Bond, Stuart Baird has shown that he can create heart-stopping action scenes with his editing. His latest work on Casino Royale shows the editorial impresario at his best.With actor Daniel Craig embodying a tougher and definitely buffer Bond, the newly re-vamped franchise moves away from the gimmicks and gadgets of the previous films into a brutally real covert underworld, taking the super-spy back to his first assignment as a double 0, pitting him against a known terrorist financier in a high-stakes poker tournament. “This was the first book that Ian Fleming wrote and it’s a really good story,” explains Baird.In his second collaboration with director, Martin Campbell—the first being The Legend of Zorro—Baird faced the challenge of selling this different kind of Bond picture. Not only did the story take a grittier turn, but replacing the popular, sophisticated Pierce Brosnan with the extremely experienced, but less high-profile Craig was a gamble. Baird was careful to make this new Bond as sympathetic as possible. “It was a bit of a nerve-racking experience for Martin, because the last picture had been a financial hit, but the producers wanted to change the mold of the Bond character,” says Baird. “Everybody was nervous because Pierce was very much loved, but he couldn’t have done this part, because it was a harder, much more physical and troubled character.” Complicating matters was a tight schedule. As soon as the rushes came in Baird cut them. “I always go for a final cut the first time I edit the film,” shares Baird. “You take the material and do the best with it. It did not seem any different from any other film, except the risks were high.” To keep on schedule, Baird started working with Campbell and prepping the visual effects during the shoot. Four weeks after production wrapped, they had to dub and preview the picture.Baird focused on making the poker games as exciting as possible, an experience he also had cutting Richard Donner’s Maverick. He was concerned that the audience would find the three games—in the same location and with the same people—to be too long. “I spent a lot of time cutting them down and tightening the timing,” says Baird. “I was surprised how well it comes off with the audience.” The action sequences were different because the plan was to not have any unbelievable, over-the-top sequences. “What I liked about the action sequences was that there was a consequence at the end of each one,” Baird adds. “You feel like Bond had really been through something.”Baird is especially proud of his work on scenes such as the card games, the train dialog and the action sequences but says, “I always think of the movie as a whole rather than individual scenes. I’m really pleased that the pace of the picture satisfies the audience. I think it illustrates my craft as well as anything I’ve done. I love doing what I do.” 1989: Nominated, Oscar, Best Film Editing, Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey. 1979: Nominated, Oscar, Best Film Editing, Superman; Nominated, ACE Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film, Superman.

Written by Mary Ann Skweres

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