Details emerge of earlier German-based plans for Casino Royale production, Prague updates, and a full wrap up of shooting in the Bahamas...

Casino Royale Production Diary #5
25th March 2006

News has broken this week in the German press on a couple of production decisions that could have drastically changed the look of "Casino Royale", the forthcoming James Bond film due out in November 2006.

Casting Le Chiffre
German newspaper Die Zeit revealed this week that actor Ulrich Matthes was originally approached to play "Casino Royale" villain Le Chiffre, but had to turn the part down due to prior commitments.

The 47 year-old German character actor explained that although he would have loved to play the film's major villain, he had already signed for a theatre production ("Virginia Woolf") touring South America.

Ulrich stated that he received a concrete offer for the part, which would have involved 30 days shooting. SZO News confirmed the story and added that Danish actor Mads Mikklesen was only offered the part of Le Chiffre after Ulrich turned it down.

Above: Ulrich Matthes

German Production Plans
PNN Online reported yesterday that production of "Casino Royale" could have taken a very different turn if German studio Berlin-Babelsberg had managed to secure a deal with Eon Productions before StillKing Films in the Czech Republic scooped the foreign co-producing role. Carl Woebcken, chairman of the Berlin based Studio Babelsberg AG, said they were in a tough fight with rival studio Barrandov in Prague, and although they lost out for "Casino Royale", there is a distinct possibility that they will be the foreign co-producers on Bond 22. Woebcken cited the high wages in Germany as the principal reason why they lost the Bond deal to the Czech Republic in an interview with Berlin Online, and noted that they were in talks with studios in Bulgaria to lower future costs but keeping post-production in Germany.

Above: The Grand Canal, Venice

Venice Shooting
As MI6 exclusively reported earlier in the year, Venice will be a major location during the end scenes in Casino Royale. New Bond girl Eva Green confirmed in video interviews during the recent Bahamas press junket that shooting will take place in the city. The location will be used as the final set-piece for the film, with action moving from various points in the city to the famous Grand Canal.

Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould confirmed in a recent interview that this final action sequence, the majority of which will actually be filmed at Pinewood Studios in the UK, will be his biggest technical challenge to date.

Prague Production Niggles
Meanwhile in Prague, where production will soon be returning to after its stint in the Bahamas, Tschechien reports that City Hall blocked a request from Bond co-producers Stillking Films to close a local park. Stillking planned to use the park on the bank of the river Moldau to house catering and parking whilst the production shot on location for a day.

According to the paper, dog owners, skateboarders and school children frequent the park and the closure of the area for one day could not be justified by deputy councilor for the "Paraha 1" district Jana Príhodová. Stillking Films reclined to comment on the issue according to local press.

Above: Bond girl Caterina Murino, who plays Solange (pictured here with her white horse), has completed her shooting for the film.

Bahamas Wrap Up
The last sequences to be shot on location in the Bahamas involved Bond chasing down "Bomber", played by freerunner Sebastien Foucan. The action takes place earlier on in the film, with the Bahamas doubling for Madagascar in the story.

Above: Freerunner Sebastien Foucan, who plays Bomber in the film, has been shooting the crane-top chase sequence in the Bahamas - doubling for Madagascar.

When Bond hunts down the back-packed bomber, the chase moves through an embassy, a shanty town and eventually a construction site where Bond utilizes brute force (in the shape of a large bulldozer) against Bomber's agility - ultimately leading to a chase a-top huge cranes. Foucan said of his role, "In this movie my character is chased by Bond. Freerunning is about using the environment. It's about how you move, climbing, rolling, everything. For me, it's an art. It's something very natural for me. Most of the work for me has been about the acting, about fighting, about being precise, to be in front of the camera."

Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (Eon Productions) and directed by Martin Campbell, CASINO ROYALE is scheduled for release November 17, 2006. Principal photography started on January 30th 2006, with locations in the UK, Czech Republic (Prague), Italy, and the Bahamas. It will be British actor Daniel Craig’s first outing as James Bond. He is the sixth actor to play the 007 role in the franchise.

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