From a hectic month of media activity, MI6 rounds up all the news on the locations, script, girls and villains on the 22nd James Bond film...

Bond 22 Pre-Production Diary (19)
10th December 2007

November was a busy month for cast and crew talking to the media, primarily lead by Daniel Craig on his publicity tour for "The Golden Compass", director Marc Forster promoting his latest film "The Kite Runner", and writer Paul Haggis on the picket line of the WGA strike.

Script Escapes Strike
At the start of the WGA strike, Haggis dropped the bombshell that the script he handed in to producers shortly before the cut-off was not quite complete. "They haven’t gotten the polish finished yet," he said.

Paul Haggis (Casino Royale, Bond 22), who predicts a lengthy strike, joined fellow Bond writers Michael France (Goldeneye), Bruce Feirstein (GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough), Neal Purvis & Robert Wade (The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, Bond 22) in the "not a word" campaign. Haggis said he "gets calls from Amy (Pascal) [and] Michael (Wilson). They hope this thing resolves. They're really, really good people."


Haggis explained the situation, "I just finished the second draft of the Bond movie and was doing the polish when this thing stopped. And I don't want that movie shooting where it says "something happens here." I'm sure they can figure it out for themselves. It sort of does that at one point. Whatever, I can't tell you what it is, but it says "something is like that," and I'm sure they can figure it out for themselves." He later revealed that the polish required was "mostly to adapt it to locations." Industry watchers blogging on the strike revealed that Haggis reportedly earned more than $4m for his work on the script.

There is speculation that producer Michael G. Wilson may dust off his screen-writing credentials. He last penned "Licence To Kill" during a previous WGA strike, and may perform any required tweaks to the Bond 22 script. When announcing that some of their upcoming slate was affected by the strike, distributor Columbia Pictures was keen to point out that Bond 22 was moving ahead without a hitch.

Girls Gone Wild
November also saw the Bond girl hype reach its peak - just before the door was slammed shut on the rumour mill. Press in Brazil started the ball rolling by revealing that some 40 models and actresses were reportedly tested for a role, but the field of candidates had been cut down to Juliana Paes and Cléo Pires, Rita Guedes, Guilhermina Guinle, Mexican model Luz Helena Gonzáles and Polish-born actress Ludwika Paleta (who moved to Mexico as a child).

The husband of Mexican actress Mayrin Villanueva then appeared on breakfast television to announce that he wife had landed a role in the film. She reportedly attended several casting sessions before "producers requested her presence for the film which is currently in pre-production".

Brazilian actress Juliana Paes cooled expectations that she could be the next Bond girl. She confirmed that she had attended the screentests, but was unsure that she could land the role, especially as the producers are uncertain about the nationality of the character.


Above: Mexican actress Mayrin Villanueva

The local casting agency later distanced themselves from the 'revelations'. Ricardo Hernandez, a representative from the casting agency in Mexico (used by the production's casting agent Carla Hool), said that as the casting process was confidential, all statements made about the status of actresses and the roles have "no foundation". Hernandez said, "as some actresses have been been making false statements about the process of casting and generating unsubstantiated news, I feel the need to dispel some of these assertions." Mayrin Villanueva was not specifically mentioned. There has been little coverage of the search for a Bond girl since, except for Eva Green confirming she will not be filming any new material for Bond 22 (it was previously hinted that she may appear again in pre-recorded video or webcam footage).

Locations Confirmed (Almost)
MI6 first reported back in September that Panama was a likely location for the 22nd James Bond film, and Dame Judi Dench first gave 'official' word in November. She said, "M is off to Panama - there's a big adventure with James." The next location to receive attention was Austria, which had been visited several times by production crew members. Another recce was made in November to Old Town of Feldkirch in the Voralberg region, and then to the town of Bregenz to finalise negotiations with local officials and to make arrangements for filming the floating opera stage that hosts "Tosca". As the opera is only performed in summer months, a special performance would have to take place in the spring to accommodate the James Bond 22 shooting schedule. Daniel Craig later confirmed the locales in an interview. "We're going to start Central America [read: Panama], in Italy, maybe Austria. And Pinewood, obviously", he said, also confirming that there would be no skiing. Last week, local press reported that a casting session was held for extras in Panama. Reports also stated that the filming will take place in the country next year and will be centred around El Casco Antiguo (The Old Town), Colón (the second largest city in Panama) and la Bahía (the Bay).

Villain Emerges
French actor Mathieu Amalric confirmed rumours that he is to play the villain in Bond 22. Previously, there was talk that Sony had picked Mathieu Amalric, star of the upcoming "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly", with Fox News saying it was a "a done deal".

Amalric said "I will, it’s true. I play the villain, yes. James Bond.It has to do with childhood, you know? To be a villain in James Bond is just so funny. I never dreamt about that. It’s not what I want to do with my career. It’s just that I have kids and it’s so funny to do that. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to do a very small French film for free with my friends."

Actor/director Mathieu Amalric was born on October 25th 1965 in Neuilly-sur-Siene, France. He will join a roster of French actors to play a lead villain role in a James Bond film, including Michael Lonsdale in "Moonraker", Louis Jourdan in "Octopussy", and Sophie Marceau in "The World Is Not Enough"


Above: French actor Mathieu Amalric

His character is yet to be revealed, but Eva Green gave some potential clues when "Casino Royale" was released. Back in November 2006, Green said, "[Vesper Lynd] had an Algerian boyfriend, and she's been sent on this mission, and then she begins to feel guilty. She's in love with Bond. It's a deep love. The Algerian boyfriend was something light, an affair. So there's an internal conflict. The plan is, the Algerian boyfriend is going to be the baddie in the second Bond, and we'll understand [better]. But you don't have to think about it too much. "

In Brief
Craig confirmed that filming will start on 4th January. Trade press noted the shift of start date from December to January was "for production reasons".