Director Marc Forster Interview JAMES BOND Quantum of Solace

     November 10, 2008

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

As I just said in the intro of the Olga Kurylenko interview for “James Bond Quantum of Solace”, with the latest Bond movie set to open this weekend, it’s time to post the interviews I recently did with the cast and director Marc Forster.

Since almost everyone on planet Earth knows who James Bond is, this intro is going to be very brief.

All you really need to know about “Quantum of Solace” is….the movie starts about an hour after “Casino Royale” ended and it’s a Bond movie where he’s looking for revenge.

And out of all the Bond movies that have been made…this is the first legitimate sequel. If you saw Casino Royale, this is a must see movie.

Anyway, during my roundtable interview with Marc, he talked about the challenges of making this movie, casting, the music, and pretty much every other thing you’d want to know about.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here. Finally, if you’d like to watch some clips from Quantum of Solace click here, and here’s a link to 5 featurette’s about making the movie.

Marc Forster: Everybody seems very happy here.

Question: Were the other rooms not happy? We like the film.

Marc: Oh, we like the film. That makes it easier. I think if I had to divide the room up in the people who liked the film, who don’t like the film…


Marc: Just joking. I’m kidding.

I haven’t heard anyone saying they don’t like the film.

Marc: I’m glad they like it because the pressure was like enough because “Casino Royale” was so successful and the expectations were so high I felt like oh my God it’s like…and the pressure’s still there to hope that the film performs.

Did you feel like you were making a sequel or did it feel all brand new and you just so happened to be talking about people who were in the last film and so forth.

Marc: No, I mean I wanted to approach it as like I’m making the movie I wanted to make and wanted to make the Bond movie I would like to see…so artistically and any other way. But I still felt like okay, there’s some characters I’m inheriting and I’m taking along for the ride. And in that sense, yes. What I thought was interesting for me to do a sequel was in the last 5 minutes of “Casino Royale” Bond loses his love of his life and he’s in this emotional state and I felt to continue that state into “Quantum of Solace” would be a good thing instead of starting him out fresh and Bond feels there’s no attachment. And he forgot the girl he loved and now where’s the next girl I can be with? And so I kind of like to have that sort of kind of pain, you know?

I’m curious about how early on did you decide on the editing between…you have some very interesting editing choices which really look great on-screen. How early on did you put that together and was that when you first got the script or could you talk about that?

Marc: I mean a lot of the action sequences I sort of developed when I went to go to locations and that’s sort of how it came together more. My first idea of intercutting the sequences, especially the sequence in Sienna and the opera and the final sequence, came from the Sienna…they showed me the tunnels which the Roman’s built under the city—the water channels and I thought it would be interesting to put the safe house underground before it was sort of up on a roof like in a building and then the roof….sort of a rooftop chase. I thought it would be interesting to put it underground and then start the chase exactly when the horse race starts and have them intercut those 2 chases and then he pops up in the middle and then we have sort of on ground level and then he goes up to the roof and then crashes through the dome from the top. Originally in the script it was to enter the dome from the ground and fight up some scaffolding. I thought it was more interesting and more spectacular to crash in from the top and have the intercutting between the race and them. And then with the opera sequence—that sequence was set in the script in a U.N. type of setting with people over-listening these conversations through different languages and stuff and I thought it was interesting, but totally visually I couldn’t get it in my head and I felt it looked a little familiar and then I saw the opera set and the eye reminded me of Bond and it was blue and I always loved the influence of Hitchcock on the Bond films—the early Bond films—and that was “The Man Who Knew Too Much” certainly popped in my head. I thought this whole kind of that film could really work really interesting because I knew it was Tosca. I thought Tosca was a parallel to our story and so I could have the opera and him and then go into this sort of Mexican standoff dream-like action sequence which wouldn’t be sort of based real and I always enjoyed it also in those “Godfather” films how Coppola dealt with it and so I thought it would be kind of a cool kind of sequence.

I guess I’ll also ask when you were shooting…how was it with shooting coverage on these films and are you the type of filmmaker that likes using a lot of cameras or are you very focused? Do you have everything in your mind how it’s going to be?

Marc: I mostly have a lot of it in my mind in dramatic sequences anyway, when I shoot with actors I usually shoot with one camera, sometimes 2, because it restricts your lighting. In action sequences I shot with more cameras because that’s just easier otherwise you lose too much time. But usually I try to limit the amount of cameras.

Do you enjoy the scope in like doing all the huge action set-pieces or are you ready to do another small very quiet drama?

Marc: No, I think there’s some switching genres and something smaller again. I mean, I enjoyed making the film and it was creatively satisfying and I loved working with Daniel. I mean he’s been such a great collaborator and it was really so satisfying working with an actor like him. And the producers really support my visions. I have nothing to complain about but its just hard to carry that kind of size of production and having like shooting….and it was my choice to shoot in 6 countries. It wasn’t theirs. I mean like up to them. They said oh, we can shoot it in Pinewood on green screen but I thought no, we need to shoot in real locations. It has to feel real. I want to be there like in these old Bond movies they sort of lost it a little bit along the way. They started shooting more in studio and had the 2nd unit out on locations. And I felt no, I want to shoot on locations. I think it’s more intimate and feels better. And so I’m in London prepping and shooting there and my productions are in Panama prepping that and then I’m seeing images of locations and suddenly I chose the locations that the wall was gray and I said we have to change the color to like a green. And then I see images and when I arrive on the day I say well, that’s not really the green I wanted, but it’s too late to change, you know? And then while I’m arriving there he’s already in Chile prepping the Chile locations so they’re always ahead of you prepping and the details make the movie….so you have to be so aware and it’s hard on the computer when they send you these photos because the color changes depending if you’re using a flash another flash, what the lighting situation is, so it gets tricky. And yes, if you’re doing a DI you can change the color again on the DI but it gets very complicated to get the color right and I’m really particular about that because it affects you in your subconscious, the way you feel the movie and the space and the characters. So that kind of stuff…if you shoot at one location, you know I’m always in control and I think most directors are control freaks.

So when you watch the movie now is there still like scenes you’re like oh my gosh I can’t believe that green’s still in the back?

Marc: No, Dennis Gastner, the production designer, is really phenomenal and he really has a good eye. I chose him because he did 8 movies with the Coen brothers. He did “The Truman Show”, you know. His credits are really great. Great taste. We worked it out very quickly, but it happened here or there but we could always fix it at the last moment.

What location or which scene was the greatest challenge for you then?

Marc: I mean they were all challenges because I had this idea I wanted to do 4 action sequences and 4 elements—water, fire, air, earth. And so every time you work with the elements, you know, you put your actors into fire it gets very hot, so it’s very hard. You put them in water, you have the wind, the waves. It’s hard and dangerous. I think the hardest one for me to actually push through because of different reasons was the Sienna scene which ends at the sort of art gallery cathedral at the end because that sequence the studio felt a couple of times…because originally the rooftops were supposed to be built in Pinewood and we couldn’t afford it. It was too expensive. So they said we’ll just have to cut the rooftops. I said no, I can’t cut the rooftops. I need that’s foreplay. And I shot already the cathedral scenes and I shot the beginning in chasing so I had him up on the thing and I said no, he just should run up into the tower and crash through the rooftop. I said no I need to rooftops and then so it was really hard to shoot that. So then I said why don’t we ask Sienna if we could shoot on the real rooftops in the final location. So Sienna, the city, allowed us, and I’m so thankful to them, to shoot on real rooftops. And engineers had to look at the weight of the buildings and it’s quite extensive. And then he flies from one rooftop to the other side where the balconies are so that was all in the real location. That was all shot in Sienna on location. So then there was an issue with the bus. Then the bus got too expensive and we had these…but then I said no, now we have him on the other side. We have to get him over and they said I know but you can figure something out but just the bus thing is too much money and too complicated. But I said I have him on this side, how can they link…we’ll just cut into the tower. Then I was thinking, no that doesn’t work and we have to get him over there. I need the bus.

You got your bus.

Marc: Yeah, I got the bus finally. But no, no the bus was always in the concept but I don’t see another way to get him over except when he jumps on the bus and he gets over and goes up again anyway.

Were you shooting in Sienna during the Palio di Siena?

Marc: Yeah, we shot the real Palio and I shot that actually August 16th last year before we shot anything and the script wasn’t finished. I didn’t really actually at that point completely 100% know where the Palio would sort of fit in.

Was there any stunt that you did that you were really worried that you were shooting that you thought oh boy…and you really put a lot of fear to? I was thinking the fire scenes at the end were very dangerous.

Marc: Yeah I know. I mean, it’s actually Daniel what is really dangerous is like when he leaves the villa where Mr. Green is…after he pulls him up and he runs across and the thing crashes down. That’s all Daniel. And things are exploding left and right next to him and it’s all real. And he’s in the midst of those flames and then at the end of it he stands there and he stands there for a moment and then he just like goes into this door which is a side door, but it’s all extremely hot. And he has like protective tissue on but it’s still…and also once the thing crashes through the door, it’s like he’s there. He enters the door, the thing crashes behind him and he enters the room which is like filled with flames as well. So that was intense, yeah.

You mentioned that you shot that sequence in Sienna in August.

Marc: Yeah.

And that was months before actually filming the rest of the film. That must have been your being thrown to the fire kind of realizing what kind of interest there was because a lot of that leaked on the Internet that you guys were filming there, people were taking photos. What was that experience like for you? Did you see all that online? Did you hear about it?

Marc: I heard about it. I didn’t really…I started very early on. I said okay, I can’t follow this online or go onto any blogs or anything because I would like…like people say okay…I would think okay they’ve chosen a director who has never done action. What is he going to do? And I felt like if I go in and start reading that stuff it really will affect me.

With all this action, how do you make sure the nature of this character and the humanity of Bond is intact?

Marc: I felt like the main thing is what I was always concentrated on like I said at the beginning I can’t approach it like a big franchise movie. I have to like really think about the character. See it as like a sort of “art film”. How can I make this my own within that Bond framework? And it’s all about Bond and the character and the intensity and how I feel. So I felt because he lost the love of his life in the last one, I said the Bond girl should sort of be a mirror to him and have sort of like in a sense have her own revenge motives. And because of that mirror, we can get sort of an emotional response out of Bond. But just in his eyes or so when she opens up a little bit. At the same time I thought also when he’s like with the John Carlo Gininni character, Mathis, there’s a nice sort of thing about the 2 of them that you feel how much pain he’s really in.

I just wanted to ask about the selection of Jack White and Alicia Keyes to do the theme song. How much input do you…I mean can you give me a song? Or how closely did you work with them about doing it?

Marc: It’s basically, I heard that Jack White was interested. He loved Bond movies and he was interested in writing a Bond song. I thought okay. I love his music. I’m a big fan and I thought it would be really an interesting combination. It was his idea to have Alicia Keyes as a duet. I always wanted to work with her. I thought that would work out great and I thought it’s important not to have the typical Bond song. I thought because it’s not a typical Bond movie and I thought to go against the grain a little bit and then he sent us that song in a rough version. I thought that would work. That goes in the right direction.

Even the score sounds a lot more, you know, contemporary and more….it doesn’t sound like your grandfather’s Bond score. I mean, it’s very different.

Marc: Yeah, it’s the same composer, David Arnold but I also worked with David very much. I wanted to push him more, I played him some temp tracks which we were thinking of and I thought it would be more interesting than going full orchestral and have it a little bit more of a modern edge. And even at the end credit, like after the Bond theme, there’s like this artist called Fortet who sort of re-mixed one of his compositions and re-mixed it in an interesting way. So that was sort of my approach.

What’s your reaction when you read the final script? Were there a lot of adjustments that went along the way as the film proceeded?

Marc: There wasn’t really ever a final script. It was just evolving, a constant evolving and changing especially with all the action. You know, you can’t sit on a blank page and just write. It’s just looking at the locations. How can we make this work and what can we work and what’s the possibility? And then mainly what I was focusing on in the script was the dialogue sequences and sort of what happens in that structure.

Why did you pick Olga? What was it about Olga that blew you away for that character?

Marc: I saw hundreds of tapes and then from those hundreds of tapes I selected around 20 girls to come in and read for me. Out of those 20 I selected 4 to read with Daniel Craig and just basically played the scene and who would connect in the most natural way with Daniel. And Olga just seemed to naturally connect with him well and it was like sort of an alignment and I thought there was some depth in it and I felt like this girl really like…there was something in her eyes where I felt like she has lived life. It’s not some like someone who fought and it was important for me in Camille’s character that she was a fighter and she had this tragedy in her past and I thought when I met Olga that she had these sort of qualities about her.

What can fans look forward to on the DVD/Blu-ray as far as deleted scenes or extras? Or are you even thinking about that yet?

Marc: Not so much yet but there is only one little deleted scene and then there’s tons of footage from behind the scenes, you know we made the whole behind the scenes piece and several other pieces that they’ve been working on, so I just looked at it a little bit but that’s probably what will be included.

Was that scene a different ending?

Marc: That scene? Actually yes, where it ends now there was another scene following. But I took that scene out.

Can you tell us what this scene might be?

Marc: No, you don’t want to spoil that because…it’s better just to keep it as it is. I mean it’s like I was thinking we shot the scene and it worked. I think it’s a great scene and everybody loved it and that’s the 1st screening I had was that scene and then we just felt no, let’s just end it right there on that necklace. He got his quantum of solace. That’s where it is, that’s where the movie ends and let’s not even go there.

Can you tell me how long it is though?

Marc: It’s like a minute.

Okay. Interesting.

Marc: I tell you that he does encounter Mr. White in that scene.

Really? You’re killing me now.

Marc: So you can almost start the next movie with that scene.

That’s what I wanted to know.

Marc: I don’t know if it’s a trilogy or not but they’re thinking…I don’t know. I was thinking to them if they wanted to they could just like…

That’s what I was curious about because this one ends like it’s a book-end. It’s a part 2 of 2 and that scene would have been part 2 of 3.

Marc: And that’s why because like them it gives them the opportunity to either start completely new or to….but with that scene you’re almost forced to follow the movie into a trilogy.

How come you didn’t use the catch phrase? The Bond, James Bond? Do you like not having that in your film? Is it a nice little mark or is it…?

Marc: You know, interestingly enough I did shoot it and it was taken out. I did cut it. It was…and when I cut it out…but I did shoot the line, but the producers felt the same so I lost it.

Are there a lot of little scenes like that? A lot of little cuts like that like little one-liners here and there that were in the film that were cut out of it?

Marc: No, no, no. Just that particular one.

With the range of films that you’ve done they’re all uniquely different. Is there a genre you haven’t worked in that you’d like to do in the future?

Marc: I would like to do a Sci-Fi. I’d like to do a musical. So those are the 2. And I would like to do a big epic love story. A couple of genres.

Would you like to do another Bond movie?

Marc: They offered me the next one but at this point the pressure is so intense and it’s a year off like not having a life and I don’t know if I want to do that again. It’s literally not having a life and I mean that’s not exaggerated so I feel like life is short, you know, you have to find a balance.

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