Having launched Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the wildly successful GoldenEye in 1995, director Martin Campbell returns to break in a new 007, Daniel Craig, in Casino Royale. But this time, they wipe the slate clean with Ian Fleming’s first Bond adventure, introducing how the world’s most popular superspy earns his Double-O status before embarking on a high-stakes poker match to thwart a terrorist network. Here, Campbell discusses the challenges of keeping the longest ever franchise fresh and inventive.Below the Line: With Pierce Brosnan, you returned to a more traditional approach and now with Daniel Craig, you’re doing an original story based on Ian Fleming’s first novel. And he’s a lot grittier than any of the previous Bonds. Explain some of the differences.Martin Campbell: They finally had the book and wanted to do a reality check with a new Bond. That was the way they chose to go and my brief was to say, let’s go back to the origins of the work and reorient the series a bit, more in the flavor of From Russia With Love.The shoot was bloody tough, particularly since I was finishing Zorro and literally overlapping my post on this. It lasted for 119 days and we were in five different countries: Prague, Czechoslovakia; the Bahamas; the UK, Venice and Lake Como, Italy; and a little bit in Miami. But it was a very successful shoot. I think we were only a week over schedule, which is very good for a film of this size.BTL: In doing a Bond film you obviously have to treat it like a marathon, but in looking at some featurettes, you maintain an intensity that seems to fire everyone up. And I see you shot a major action set piece first with Daniel Craig.Campbell: That was to get him to hit the ground running and to get him comfortable. What I wanted to do with the action was to keep it very real and make it look spectacular. I didn’t want it to look ludicrous.BTL: Let’s talk about some of your collaborators. With one exception, production designer Peter Lamont has worked on every Bond film since Goldfinger.Campbell: He’s fabulous in what he created. In fact, the Casino Royale itself, the Salon Prive, where the big game is played, was actually shot on Stage 6 at Barrandov Studios in Prague. We filmed at a real Hotel Splendide exterior in Karlovy Vary as well. But for whatever reason it was derelict. Peter somehow adapts all this stuff.BTL: What did you use for inspiration?Campbell: Well, I know a lot of the casinos. When I did GoldenEye, we did Monte Carlo. But the truth is that most of those places have lost their grandeur to a certain extent. I suppose they’ve become variations of Las Vegas. So I suppose Monte Carlo in its heyday was the inspiration.BTL: I love the unpredictability of having M’s apartment very modern looking.Campbell: Yes, you’d expect something Georgian, but we wanted to surprise everyone. And, you may not know this, but the opening interior office was inspired by The Ipcress File.BTL: You’ve worked with your cinematographer Phil Meheux a number of times in the past. What is it about him that keeps you coming back for more?Campbell: Phil is wonderful. I think this is our ninth or 10th film together. We just have a language together and it works extremely well. I’m a creature of habit and I like to work with people I’ve worked with before, given the sort of pressures that you’re under to get this stuff through.BTL: What were some of the looks you were going for?Campbell: The look of the casino is very lush and golden—not modern at all. We lit just the main table, which is a feat by itself. We have the torture scene, which I transferred from a villa in the book to a barge in the movie.BTL: That’s a very brutal scene.Campbell: I shot it bloody close to the book, but we’ve added some ‘Bondian’ humor. Obviously we don’t get graphic, but it’s very clear what’s going on. Very dark and very low key. It’s quite a shocking scene.In terms of other scenes, we obviously made the Bahamas look exotic, and Europe look darker and more overcast. A lot of night stuff. It’s intermingled. One action sequence is shot like classic Bond; another is much more like The Bourne Supremacy; it varies. The uglier the action, the more frenetic and hand-held it becomes.BTL: In fact, your 2nd unit director Alexander Witt and stunt coordinator Gary Powell worked on The Bourne Supremacy.Campbell: Alex did a fabulous job handling and he always makes a director like me look so good. The truth is, a lot of those action sequences come down to him. And Gary comes from a family of stunt arranging. His father was Nosher Powell and his brother Greg Powell did all the Harry Potter films. In fact, Gary rode the tank for me in GoldenEye with a broken arm. He’s turned out to be very successful. Another person I enjoyed working with is [special effects and miniature effects supervisor] Chris Corbould. He’s another old hand at Bond, and I think there’s no one better. There’s a scene at the end inside a house in Venice, which has a full size house built on a gymbal 20 ft. into the water and can move anyway you like—we did it like that because the house is slowly sinking. It was an absolutely difficult piece of engineering and he pulled it off.BTL: Your costume designer Lindy Hemming, who’s worked on a number of previous Bond movies, dresses Daniel Craig down, but also provides a more modern tux; and dresses Eva Green and Caterina Murino very differently, in keeping with the mood of the movie.Campbell: Lindy’s terrific. Obviously she knows Bond like the back of her hand.BTL: Composer David Arnold, also a Bond alumnus, is back doing the score. It’s interesting that we don’t hear the full orchestrated Bond theme until the end.Campbell: It fits because Bond doesn’t grow into being the Bond we know until the end.BTL: And, finally, what drew you to editor Stuart Baird.Campbell: Stuart, who has also directed stuff, is a brilliant editor—very fast and with a lot of ideas. For example, when you have three major card games, it’s not easy to pace them out and to make them exciting. Card games have a lot to do with this movie. That takes skill. The action notwithstanding, Stuart is a past master at that. The problem is to make the non-action exciting. He actually cut the card game in Maverick, so he’s had some practice at least.Those interested in learning more about the making of the legendary Bond movies, should check out The Art of Bond: From Storyboard to Screen by Laurent Bouzereau, recently published by Abrams. Not only are there insightful comments from current crew (production designer Peter Lamont and costume designer Lindy Hemming), but also such legends as production designer Ken Adam, composer John Barry and stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong.
Written by Bill Desowitz