Welcome to MI6 Headquarters

This is the world's most visited unofficial James Bond 007 website with daily updates, news & analysis of all things 007 and an extensive encyclopaedia. Tap into Ian Fleming's spy from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig with our expert online coverage and a rich, colour print magazine dedicated to spies.

Learn More About MI6 & James Bond →

Director Marc Forster says completing `Quantum of Solace` on time was a miracle

07-Nov-2008 • Quantum Of Solace

If Marc Forster is feeling exhausted these days, it's not surprising - reports Canada.com.

As director of Quantum Of Solace, he feels like he's coming off a non-stop roller-coaster ride, geared to ensuring that the latest James Bond thriller would be ready for release Nov. 14.

"The timetable was hard," the German-born filmmaker says in his softly accented English. "There were only six weeks to cut the movie and then a similar amount to do the sound and music. We were up against a wall and it's a miracle we were able to complete it."

Forster is proud of the finished film, the second to star Daniel Craig in the role of Agent 007, but he admits he was intimidated by a $200 million budget which collectively was far more than he had spent on all his previous films combined.

Furthermore, when he was first approached to helm the movie he didn't want to do it.

His baffled response to producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli was: why me?

After all, there was nothing from his previous output to suggest that he was qualified to take on the most durable action franchise in film history. His 2001 breakout film, Monster's Ball, which he made for only $3 million, was an intimate study of racism and sexual obsession set in the American south. Finding Neverland took a touching look at playwright J.M. Barrie and the creation of Peter Pan. Stranger Than Fiction was a quirky comedy about a reclusive man who finds that mysterious forces are controlling his life. There was also his art-house venture into Afghan culture with The Kite Runner.

"I had never done an action movie before," Forster says. "It was not my genre. I wasn't a Bond fan, although I had liked some of the early movies."

Then he remembered Orson Welles's famous statement that his biggest regret was never to have made a commercial movie. His director of photography, Roberto Schaefer, also pressed him to accept.

"Oh my god -- that's film history!" Schaefer exclaimed. "You have to do a Bond."
Forster continued to resist -- until he sat down with Daniel Craig.

"I clicked with him because we both came from independent cinema. I feel like he is a really intelligent man. He comes from theatre. There is an understanding he brings to that character."

Forster regards all his films as character studies, and Quantum Of Solace would be no exception.

"I deal with emotionally repressed characters throughout every film. In Monster's Ball, they're repressed. Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland, Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction, The Kite Runner -- they're all repressed.

"And Bond is the ultimate. He definitely has a strong shell around him which he is emotionally unable to open."

A 007 movie which puts its hero on the couch is definitely a departure, but Forster says it was already happening in Casino Royale which ended with Daniel Craig's Bond suffering the double blow of Vesper Lynd's betrayal and death. Quantum Of Solace begins immediately afterwards with a traumatized Bond embarking on a mission of vengeance.

Craig convinced him this would be a serious 007 thriller. "They wanted to make it as a sequel, from where Casino Royale left off. In the last five minutes of that film, his emotional state was very interesting, so I felt there was a lot of opportunity to continue that journey."

Besides, Forster hates repeating himself. "I like to switch genres every time around." This would prove a stunning switch.

Which is why the 39-year-old filmmaker found himself working on the hallowed James Bond sound stage at Britain's Pinewood Studios before moving on to location filming in Panama City, Bolivia, the Chilean desert, Italy and Austria.

He was also plunged into the job of overseeing some spectacular action scenes, including a foot chase across the rooftops of Sienna, Italy, a spectacular sequence in a burning building, and a free fall from a disabled aircraft.

Although a second unit director with action experience was on the payroll, Forster took on most of the big challenges himself.

"I wanted to do four action sequences set in the four elements -- water, fire, air and earth. And I felt we should try to tell a story with each of them. The second unit guy was there -- we worked all of them through, even the ones he didn't direct. I thought he had done so much of this that it would be good for me to collaborate with someone who understands them."

Fans won't be mistaken if they detect moments of homage to previous Bond movies, especially the early ones. For example, a shot of a murdered young woman, her nude body completely covered in oil, was inspired by a famous scene from Goldfinger.

"I wanted to make the Bond movie I always wanted to see," Forster explains. Those movies originated in the 1960s and were dominated by modernistic production designs from Ken Adam, an iconic figure in the Bond canon, and stunning visual sequences.

"I always felt the design and look of those early films were ahead of their time, so I wanted to make this a little retro but at the same time sort of futuristic."

Forster is still puzzled as to why the film's producers, Wilson and Broccoli, approached him, but he suspects they saw the need to take chances now that the Bond franchise is into its fifth decade.

"(They) seemed to really love my work, and they felt in the last movie they had taken a chance with Daniel, and obviously Daniel worked and was accepted as Bond, even though at the beginning he was criticized.

And they probably felt they were ready to take a chance on the director this time and throw it in a different direction."

Initially, Forster feared he'd be "in conflict" with his bosses over creative issues, but it didn't happen. He was allowed to bring in his own crew and team, and was also allowed to make the radical decision to shift the traditional gunshot opening logo to the end. "They really let me make my film and sort of left me alone."

Still, Forster remains conscious of the high stakes for him personally.

"There was a lot of pressure because Casino Royale was such a critical and commercial success, so I felt the expectations were enormous and the budget was enormous. So if the movie fails commercially, it would affect my career with my smaller movies."

Discuss this news here...

Open in a new window/tab