Daniel Craig Casino Royale
Casino Royale could be the first art-house-style 007 movie. For one thing, the man chasing a terrorist through the tropical undergrowth on the film’s set this week doesn’t look much like the ultra-smooth James Bond that fans have come to adore over the course of four decades. He’s bleeding, ragged — and nowhere near a tuxedo, martini or gorgeous woman. Beyond Bond‘s gritty characterization are other techniques and details associated with more low-budget productions. The opening sequence will be in black and white. And even after the movie goes to color in the first act, there’s restless camera movement that gives this Bond an almost documentary feel… In previous 007 movies, the high-tech mastermind Q has provided rocket cars, laser watches, exploding toothpaste and other gadgetry. But there’s no Q in Casino Royale to help Bond. "He is the gadget, and he has to prove himself," says cinematographer Phil Meheux.
The gadgets are gone! Noooooooooooooooo. Above has Daniel Craig, 38, with his finger on a silenced Walther. Below, Daniel Craig shoots a few action scenes from Casino Royale that he hopes will be as realistic as possible. "Our perception, and I don’t know if we’re right or wrong, but the times have become more sober, and people want something more realistic." The full article after the jump and more pictures in the gallery!
VIDEO :: Interviews with Daniel Craig and Caterina Murino on set of the action-packed Casino Royale in the Bahamas. After the jump!
Daniel Craig is armed and dangerous as the new 007.
Bond reloads image
Casino Royale could be the first art-house-style 007 movie.
For one thing, the man chasing a terrorist through the tropical undergrowth on the film’s set this week doesn’t look much like the ultra-smooth James Bond that fans have come to adore over the course of four decades. He’s bleeding, ragged — and nowhere near a tuxedo, martini or gorgeous woman.
Beyond Bond’s gritty characterization are other techniques and details associated with more low-budget productions. The opening sequence will be in black and white. And even after the movie goes to color in the first act, there’s restless camera movement that gives this Bond an almost documentary feel.
And while some settings in Casino Royale place the action in posh resorts and mansions, many locations are more menacing than alluring. The feel is more along the lines of The Constant Gardener than the ice-palace slickness of 2002′s Die Another Day.
In one scene shot in wooded land near the beach at Coral Harbour here, for instance, the area has been deliberately strewn with trash, ravaged automobiles and clusters of filthy tin shanties to simulate the slums of Madagascar.
In these crystal-blue waters and tropical forests of the Bahamas, James Bond is being reborn, withdrawing from the increasing cartoonishness of recent 007 movies in favor of slightly more realistic action, a deeper story line and even a streak of tragedy.
"I think there’s a complexity to it, but I think audiences are completely up for that," says Daniel Craig, 38, the actor taking over from Pierce Brosnan. He’s the sixth official Bond, following Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.
Not a popular choice
But as with any big change to a beloved franchise, Craig (who was the drug-dealing hero of Layer Cake and Paul Newman’s psychopathic son in Road to Perdition) has already divided some Bond fans — those who welcome the predatory presence he adds and those who dismiss him as not sophisticated or manly enough. An accident during a fight sequence last month became a chance for detractors to mock Craig for literally getting his teeth knocked out. He says he just lost a cap on a tooth, and no sign of dental trauma was evident during interviews Wednesday night.
The 21 Bond movies have collectively earned more than $1.3 billion at the North American box office, and international sales and home video amount to far more. Bond is a hero who spans generations, including fathers and sons, many of whom, well, bond over the spy movies.
It’s a devotion rivaled perhaps only by Star Wars, and Casino Royale’s Nov. 17 release is among the year’s most anticipated.
Craig says fans should remember that this is an origin story, so the hero they know is now depicted as a work in progress: "Audiences are attracted to fallible characters. Bond, in this movie, makes a few mistakes. And they form him."
The gadgets are gone
In previous 007 movies, the high-tech mastermind Q has provided rocket cars, laser watches, exploding toothpaste and other gadgetry. But there’s no Q in Casino Royale to help Bond.
"He is the gadget, and he has to prove himself," says cinematographer Phil Meheux.
In one scene, he chases an ultra-speedy villain played by Sebastien Foucan, who is known for leaping over cars and scaling walls practicing "free-running," a fitness movement that is part sport, part dance.
Bond’s quarry is almost supernaturally fast, and the spy needs to look like he’s struggling to keep up before using his wits to outsmart (and overpower) the villain. Bond has to know his limitations and overcome them without the help of science-fiction machinery.
There’s no catching the real Foucan, so Craig rehearses with a not-so-speedy stand-in — while director Martin Campbell (GoldenEye) shouts at him to "Run like hell!" Afterward, Craig says to a crewmember, "Had to slow down … I nearly had him."
Talk to anyone on the set about the film’s art-house flavor, and they wince, pointing out that it’s an action movie with chases, explosions, sexy actresses and the signature comic irony of previous Bond movies.
But they do acknowledge that the experimentation is designed to make this a thinking-moviegoers’ Bond.
"What you’re looking at today, what we’re shooting, is a sequence at just the beginning of the movie," says Craig. "What comes after it is kind of mind-blowing. It’s going to be Bond, but it’s going to be beyond that, as well."
How Bond drew first blood
With audiences favoring a sinister edge to action heroes (like those in The Bourne Identity and Batman Begins), and some vulnerability in even the most indestructible of characters (think Spider-Man and X-Men), producers have decided to show how Bond first got blood on his hands to earn that notorious "license to kill" and also to provide him with a femme fatale who finds (and exploits) a weakness — instead of being just another one-catastrophe stand.
Though the last Bond film, Die Another Day, grossed $432 million worldwide, Michael G. Wilson, who produces the Bond films with stepsister Barbara Broccoli, says they felt the franchise had become too far-out.
"In the 1970s, the Bond films got bigger and bigger and bigger until we finally got to Moonraker (1979) in outer space," Wilson says. "Then we said these pictures are getting away from the essence of Bond, so we made For Your Eyes Only (1981), which is a more intimate story. I think it happened again with the last film, with us having invisible cars, an ice palace and a heat-laser thing in outer space."
He hopes Casino Royale will reconnect Bond with his roots. "Our perception, and I don’t know if we’re right or wrong, but the times have become more sober, and people want something more realistic."
The film’s overarching villain is not the Dr. Evil-style super-baddie from more recent Bond flicks. This time Bond’s nemesis is Le Chiffre, played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (King Arthur). Le Chiffre is a banker for an international terrorism network, which is about to collapse unless he can multiply his remaining funds in a high-stakes baccarat game.
Bond tracks the terror suspect to a Montenegro casino referred to in the title, where he must defeat Le Chiffre not in a fight, but by claiming his remaining funds in a card game (though there’s plenty of brutality to follow).
The moneyed grounds of the One & Only Ocean Club stand in for the casino. Though only 45 minutes from the slum set, it’s a world apart, an oasis of verdant lawns, luxury rooms and delicate gardens perched on the banks of a white sand beach. The Bond of the jungle chase is an outsider struggling to fit in amid the affluence.
"As the character develops within the story, we get the opportunity for him to become this beautifully, elegantly dressed man," says costume designer Lindy Hemming, who previously dressed Brosnan for the Bond films. "Because we’ve seen the gritty, earthy, dirty undercover man before, it’s kind of a big shock and it’s really nice when we see him immaculate."
The Bond girl is Vesper Lynd, a representative from the British secret service sent to accompany Bond on his mission. Producers chose the French actress Eva Green, a smoky-eyed beauty from Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. This time she’s responsible for providing a soulfulness in her relationship with Bond.
Green, who is on location in the Bahamas but has not yet started shooting her scenes, is already worried about typecasting and takes umbrage at being referred to as "a Bond girl."
"It sounds like a bimbo or something," says Green, 25.
It’s nothing like the novel
The film strays far from the 1953 Ian Fleming novel, and despite the flaws the movie ascribes to this young Bond, it still makes him much more heroic than the original book. Fleming’s novel lingered mainly on the card game and contained a minimal amount of action — depicting Bond as unusually hapless. (He is repeatedly rescued at critical moments by other agents, including the CIA. And in one case he’s reluctantly saved by a Soviet agent who takes pity on him.) The book was spoofed in a 1967 film starring David Niven and Woody Allen, which is mainly viewed as a curiosity for 007 fans.
The new film’s script, written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade with a rewrite by Oscar winner Paul Haggis (fresh off best-picture wins for Crash and last year’s Million Dollar Baby), punches up the action, adds some significant globetrotting and features two other female characters (Caterina Murino and Ivana Milicevic) besides Vesper to tempt the womanizing superspy.
Despite all the freedom to experiment, and the ability to work in the lush beauty of the Bahamas, Campbell confesses that the deadline for having Casino Royale in theaters this fall is brutal.
"You never have fun filming. It’s always the perception of people — they think it’s fun. Listen, I get up at 4:30 every morning. I go out there and work right through non-stop. I have (pressure) in terms of delivering it on schedule. So it’s no fun whatsoever," Campbell says, before adding: "And we haven’t really had any problems."