Screenwriter John Logan Talks About His Approach to New James Bond Film SKYFALL and Action Set-Pieces

by     Posted 2 years, 150 days ago

John Logan JAMES BOND skyfall interview slice

While the road to production on the latest Bond film has been rather arduous thanks to the financial troubles of MGM, principal photography on Skyfall is officially underway with director Sam Mendes behind the lens, anchored by a stellar supporting cast including Javier Bardem as the villain and Ralph Fiennes in an as yet undisclosed role. Steve is currently in New York doing the press rounds for Martin Scorsese’s family film Hugo and got the chance to sit down with screenwriter John Logan, who was one of the writers on Bond 23.

Logan talked about how he first came aboard the project, his approach to scripting a film that’s part of a 50-year franchise, the process of crafting the series’ notorious action set-pieces with the aid of Mendes, and how he weaves action into the story. Hit the jump to read the full interview.

james-bond-007-skyfall-sam-mendes-movie-set-photoMendes and Logan have known each other for years, so when the director asked Logan to come aboard the project he jumped at the chance:

“[Mendes] said there’s this great script by Purvis and Wade that existed, but he wanted me to come onboard and I did the ultimate thing you never do which is I said ‘Yes. I don’t care what you pay me, I don’t care what I have to do, yes,’ because I grew up—the first Bond movie I ever saw was Diamonds are Forever, I remember every moment of it.”

While it’s been said that Skyfall will be a standalone film in the series instead of a direct sequel like Quantum of Solace, Logan sees the pic a bit differently:

“It has nothing to do with being a standalone film, as far as I’m concerned, because I don’t think these films are standalone, I think they’re part of a legacy.  When I was working on it I was deeply aware as much of Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale as I was of Thunderball, as I was of Ian Fleming in the 50’s writing it, you know you’re a float in a parade.”

That being said, Logan didn’t feel devoutly deferent to the series as he had a great sense of freedom when drafting the screenplay:

“What was particularly thrilling about this is the freedom, because I had the fear that you would going into a franchise movie that you have to put all the toys back in the sandbox, but I’ve never felt anything but completely free as a writer to explore different material, to explore different ideas with these characters and this world. It’s been amongst the best experiences I’ve ever had on a movie.”

james-bond-007-skyfall-movie-set-photoFinally, when asked about how he approaches the action set-pieces in the film, Logan said that it’s an extremely collaborative process with Mendes extensively involved, though the action is always in service to the story:

“It’s a very collaborative process, and Sam is front and center on everything. He’s got an amazingly exciting adventure mind, which not all filmmakers do…The important thing for me is making sure that the action belongs in that movie, cause there’s such a thing as a Bond kind of action, and then there’s a subset of that which is our Skyfall kind of action, they all have their own definitions.”

They’re currently two weeks deep into production and the plot is being kept under lock and key, but I’m definitely enticed not only by the involvement of Logan and Mendes, but also the fantastic cast that they’ve put together. We’ll find out for certain if Skyfall delivers next November.

Here’s the part of Steve’s video interview with Logan on Bond followed by the transcript.  Look for their full conversation soon.

What was it like getting that phone call saying “Hey, how would you like to be involved with this Bond film?”

It was amazing. It happened because Sam Mendes and I have known each other for 15 years from theater circles, and we ran into each other at Bar Centrale down on 46th after the theater, and we were talking [in] booths next door to each other and he said, “Can you have lunch tomorrow?” I said “Sure let’s have lunch, that’s great” and I knew he was doing it. So we had lunch and he said there’s this great script by Purvis and Wade that existed, but he wanted me to come onboard and I did the ultimate thing you never do which is I said “Yes. I don’t care what you pay me, I don’t care what I have to do, yes,” because I grew up—the first Bond movie I ever saw was Diamonds are Forever, I remember every moment of it. I’m particularly pleased that Skyfall comes out on the 50th anniversary of Dr. No, so for 50 years this franchise has been going incredibly strong through 23 movies, so to be part of that is incredibly fun. You know I flew in on the set two days ago and I fly back Wednesday back to Pinewood. It’s thrilling.

I heard that, and I know that you can’t talk about anything specific, but I did hear that this is a standalone movie. Talk a little bit about the freedom of not having to go back to the other movies.

It has nothing to do with being a standalone film, as far as I’m concerned, because I don’t think these films are standalone, I think they’re part of a legacy.  When I was working on it I was deeply aware as much of Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale as I was of Thunderball, as I was of Ian Fleming in the 50’s writing it, you know you’re a float in a parade. What was particularly thrilling about this is the freedom, because I had the fear that you would going into a franchise movie that you have to put all the toys back in the sandbox, but I’ve never felt anything but completely free as a writer to explore different material, to explore different ideas with these characters and this world. It’s been amongst the best experiences I’ve ever had on a movie. Mind you we’re two weeks into filming, so we’ll see.

Regarding the action set pieces, how much was in the script that you were given and how much came from you?

It’s a very collaborative process, and Sam is front and center on everything. He’s got an amazingly exciting adventure mind, which not all filmmakers do. The important thing about action sequences, and you know my first movie was Any Given Sunday so you’re sitting there with Oliver Stone talking about football action, or Gladiators with Ridley Scott, or throat slitting with Tim Burton, is that the action is appropriate to the story, there’s no such thing as generic action because then you’re watching stunts, you’re watching special effects and you’re very impressed by the second-unit photography but you’re not engaged. So the important thing for me is making sure that the action belongs in that movie, cause there’s such a thing as a Bond kind of action, and then there’s a subset of that which is our Skyfall kind of action, they all have their own definitions. And it’s different than the other movies because it’s unique to itself the same way a plane crash in The Aviator is a different kind of action than a football scene in Any Given Sunday.

 




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