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Director Martin Campbell proud of his second James Bond film

04-Dec-2006 • Casino Royale

Filming the gambling scenes in the latest Bond instalment, Casino Royale, was a "nightmare", Kiwi director Martin Campbell said - reports NZ Herald.

The British-based director, who attended the film's Newmarket premiere with his family on Thursday night, said continuity was almost impossible in scenes with hundreds of chips on the table.

"Every time we called 'cut' we had to go back to square one. We had 50 decks of cards, all pre-set so, when you dealt, the right hands would come up. All the chips had to be in perfect position around the actors. But there were three major sections and I had to shoot them slightly differently each time so it was difficult."

Critics are already hailing the film - and its star, Daniel Craig - as the best in the franchise since the days of Sean Connery, despite reservations that Craig's hair colour and rough demeanour made him unsuitable. Herald entertainment editor Russell Baillie has given the film four stars.

Campbell said he did his best to ignore any "nasty" publicity during filming. "Everyone is a little possessive of Bond, and I suppose Daniel wasn't right to a lot of these people. Then you see it and you realise he's absolutely terrific."

Campbell had said he would never make another Bond film after directing GoldenEye in 1995, for fear of repeating himself. "There's only so many ways you can blow up a submarine." But he changed his mind when he heard this one would be based on Ian Fleming's gritty novel. "Everyone realised we had to go back to basics. We changed a few things - the villain becomes a banker for terrorism - and added a lot more action. But, essentially, it's the same story."

The short promotional visit is the first time Campbell has been back in nearly two years, when he worked with the Weta workshop on The Legend of Zorro (the sequel to The Mask of Zorro, starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones).

In 2000, he filmed the mountaineering drama Vertical Limit here and isn't ruling out making another film in the country. In the 1980s, Campbell was regarded as one of the top television directors for his work on series including The Professionals, Reilly: Ace of Spies and Edge of Darkness, for which he won six Baftas. He also has several Hollywood credits to his name.

But he has received little recognition in his home country. "I like the fact I slipped under the radar," he said. I just tried to get on with my career. Recognition is bullshit.

"It's the work that's important."

And although he has not lived in New Zealand for 40 years, Campbell says he recently lunched with Kiwi director Roger Donaldson (The World's Fastest Indian) and worked with several Kiwi crew members on Casino Royale.

"I didn't think about flying the flag until recently. Maybe it's the result of the world being in turmoil. This has become an oasis, a sort of haven."

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