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‘As much as this is a Bond film, Casino Royale is also a love story’

How difficult was the Casino Royale shoot?

These films are tough. We were shooting for 118 days, non-stop, seven days a week, travelling to four or five countries. We would land in the country and start filming the next day so there was no let up.

You were credited with reinvigorating the Bond franchise back in 1995 with GoldenEye. Was that easier than Casino Royale?

Well, don’t forget with GoldenEye there was an eight-year gap between that and Licence to Kill, the Tim Dalton movie. And secondly, the public were starved of Bond. There was the gap because of a legal problem at the time, so they couldn’t make a Bond movie. So a long time had passed and everyone liked Pierce (Brosnan). I think the audience was looking forward to another Bond.

Why did the producers choose to adapt Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale?

Casino Royale is a rather interesting book. It was written in 1953 and set in the Cold War. It was a very realistic book. It doesn’t feature outrageous situations or outrageous action. Bond is very real, too. He is not the tuxedo-wearing, womanising master spy that we have been given in the movies.

So he’s not the sophisticate we know now?

No, he’s basically just been given his 007 status and he is still a bit green around the edges. For example, he has to kill someone and the killing is tough and it’s messy and he finds it very disturbing. In the book, he drinks way too much and he smokes about 70 cigarettes a day! (Laughs).

Times change…

Oh, they do. So he is vulnerable and a dark character. He doesn’t find it easy. He’s very much a misogynist and explains why in the book. Actually there’s a very good description of why he detests affairs and how it all ends up leaving a nasty taste in your mouth. Of course, at the time Ian Fleming was about to marry a woman he didn’t want to be married to, so all of that sort of fed into the book.

What are you like on set?

(Laughs) I think I’m quite calm, actually. I mean, I yell and scream but I don’t do it in an angry way. I do it because I like a lot of energy. I like people moving and getting on with it.

But you took quite a gamble in casting him.

Yes, Daniel had never done an action film before and action is difficult. Some actors you expect will be very good at doing such scenes because of their image turn out to be incapable of doing action. Others know instinctively what is needed and are just naturals.

Did the success of action movies — like the Bourne trilogy with Matt Damon — influence the decision to reinvent the Bond franchise?

They are up-to-date movies. I love The Bourne Supremacy and Paul Greengrass is a very talented director. He has that documentary style which gives it a great sense of realism. Also, [producer] Cubby Broccoli always wanted to make Casino Royale. That was one of his passions to get the rights to the book and make a movie, but he died before that was possible. So [co-producers] Barbara and Michael saw it had become available and leapt on it.

Did Daniel’s tough-guy performance in Layer Cake convince you he was the right actor to play Bond?

Well, Layer Cake has a certain charm about it, despite being about drugs. He is very charming in it. Normally you associate him with slightly heavier roles like the ones in Enduring Love, The Mother and Sylvia. Actually I thought Munich was one of the best things he’s done, although he’s hardly got a line in it. He’s bursting with vitality in that role; you can’t help but watch him.

What was Daniel like?

He turned out to be very good. I mean, he buffed up and he trained and he looked great. But I think there was a little bit of a learning curve in the way action scenes are shot. But once he was in the rhythm he was great.

How is Ian Fleming’s image of Bond different from the movie version?

If you read the books, you’ll find that he is a darker character who does have an inner conflict. He has a lot of demons and a lot of vices and he does get beaten up. So it’s very different. Daniel has this rugged good-looking quality and he has the tougher side that we wanted for the part.

You had a great writing team on Casino Royale and some valuable input from Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis.

Yes, one of the things he did was beef up M’s part, so Judi Dench had a lot more to do in this, which she was pleased about. She’s out of the office a bit more this time. She went to the Bahamas and it’s very good to see her and Daniel together.

Eva Green was relatively unknown before Casino Royale. What was she like?

Eva was fantastic. We had approached a few better-known actresses, but then we went to Eva and I was amazed at how good she was. Her English is amazing and she has no accent at all. We tested her and she was very nervous in the test but I knew instinctively that she was the right actress. The Vesper character is very enigmatic. This is not like the traditional Bond girl; this is serious stuff.

Is it possible to forget that it’s a Bond movie while you are making it?

Oh I do, the actual Bond thing doesn’t effect me at all. It’s the drama that affects me. And as much as this is a Bond film, it’s also a love story. It’s about a relationship and that has to work and that has to be right.

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