How Gary Powell, Alexander Witt and the second unit planned and executed 'Skyfall' stunt sequences for real...

Timed To Perfection

21st December 2012

Gary Powell, a veteran of the Bond franchise, was delighted to work with Sam Mendes, who had a particular vision for how the stunts must remain realistic and help propel along the plot. Bond has a reputation for eye-popping stunts, done for real by daring stunt men and women, and the production team knew that "Skyfall" had to balance the action and story, but also wow the audience and provide unique and daring stunts.

In the past, screenwriters have merely prescribed "boat chase here", or similarly vague guiding principals, but "Skyfall" writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan had a large part in conceiving of the 23rd 007 adventure's action sequences. "Writing action sequences is one of the great challenges and the great joys of being a screenwriter," says screenwriter John Logan. "The challenge as a writer on "Skyfall" was to find ways to make the action as 'Bondian' as possible - which to me means it's tough, it's real and it's heightened."

From an early stage it was decided that Daniel Craig, incumbent 007 star, would rehearse and execute as many of his own stunts as feasible. Craig brings more than his actors chops to this Bond picture, says Michael Wilson: "it's not only the mental preparation, but the physical preparation. He works out like a demon, like a professional athlete. He is really committed to the role, committed to being Bond." Wilson's producing partner, Barbara Broccoli, explains how Daniel not only throws punches with the best of the stunt men, he contributes actively to the choreography of the stunt scenes. "Daniel contributes a great deal to designing the action and the fights in particular and he's the one who really pulls it off, because he wants to do as much of it as he possibly can," she explains.


In the same spirit, 007 has rarely been one to fall back on CGI. If it's not humanly possible, it's safer to avoid it. Bond is undoubtedly super-human, but a human nonetheless. "All of us, Sam and Gary especially, felt that we need to push this movie as far as we could," explained the 007 star, Daniel Craig. "And we've always relied on the fact that we do things for real in Bond movies, and that's just the way it is. If it's CGI, it's just to help out, as opposed to creating the scene."

On location in Turkey, the producers watched on nervously as Craig and Powell staged the fantastic fight on top of the speeding train. "We were in Turkey for the train sequence and I had my heart in my mouth the whole time; [Craig] and Ola [Rapace] were fighting on the roof of a moving train and the moves that they were doing were just heart stopping," Broccoli recalls. "Daniel's the reason why the action works as well as it does because he sells it, he's up there and I think audiences know that."

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