Marc Forster talks about directing Daniel Craig's second outing as 007 in the 22nd James Bond film "Quantum of Solace"...

Marc Forster Interview
18th November 2008

Although Marc Forster took a little convincing that he was the right man to helm Daniel Craig's follow-up to the hugely successful 2006 film "Casino Royale", once onboard the director set to work on creating one of the most visually unique films in the James Bond canon. Forster took a brief break from editing "Quantum of Solace" to conduct this interview in London earlier this year.

How important are the locations for a film like this?
You know, for me locations are key, especially doing a Bond film. I think in the Bond films locations themselves are characters in the movies. And I always felt that in the early Bond films the locations were so exotic and interesting and people were transported to those places. Now, as the world becomes smaller and people travel more and are more familiar with the world through the Internet, it becomes harder to find these really interesting Bond locations. So it was key to me to find something we haven’t seen before, something that hasn’t been shot before. And that’s what I was trying to do with this movie.

And where did you find those places?
We found them in Panama – we were in Colon on the Caribbean side, which is this very special town, it’s beautiful but dilapidated but has fantastic architecture from the 20s and 30s. And then we went to Chile, to the desert, and we shot at a place called The ESO Paranal, which is an observatory, and it’s the hotel where all the astronomers stay and has incredible, interesting architecture. And then we shot at Bregenz (Austria) at the Opera on the lake and then we shot in Italy at the Palio in Siena and a couple of other places in Italy and then of course, in London and at Pinewood Studios.

That’s a very hectic schedule. Did you enjoy being on the road like that?
Yeah, I did enjoy seeing all of these different, incredible places.

When they first asked you to do the movie, how did you react?
My first reaction was that I didn’t want to do the movie. I wasn’t interested. I only did the meeting out of courtesy to the studio, I like Sony and I’d worked with them before and eventually when I sat down with them I thought Barbara (Broccoli, producer) and Michael (G. Wilson, producer) were very nice and charming and interesting and I felt like they were very director driven. And I felt that yes, there is this framework of the Bond world and one has to make the movie within that, but at the same time I felt like I could have the space to create my own Bond.

And did that prove to be the case?
Yes, it did. They left me alone and let me make the film that I wanted to make.

Did they convince you at that very first meeting?
No at the time I wasn’t convinced at all. It took about a month for me to think about it, to meet again and for me to mull it over and come to a final decision.

Had you seen Casino Royale at that point?
Yes, I’d seen it independently and I enjoyed the film, I liked it very much. I liked Daniel as Bond very much and I thought the movie was really well done.

And was the fact that you had Daniel in the lead role part of the reason why you eventually decided to do the film?
Yes, absolutely. I felt that he is a very interesting actor and that the two of us could do something good together.

You must have been aware of Daniel’s other work, too?
Oh yes, I’d seen him in Layer Cake; I saw him in Munich and The Road to Perdition and sever other movies. I’d always admired him as an actor.

Did you meet Daniel early on in the process and did that help you make up your mind?
Yes, definitely, meeting Daniel and knowing that I wanted to work with him made me decide that I wanted to do the movie.

How did the script develop?
Well, at that point we didn’t really have a script. And I said ‘well, since Paul Haggis did such a good job on Casino Royale let’s bring him in..’ and then Paul wrote a script for us and in the meantime I was travelling around the world looking at possible locations. But then Paul really had too much work on his hands and he never delivered a finished script but it was enough to start the movie and then basically Daniel and I kept developing the characters and the scenes and then in the middle of the shoot we brought in another writer so it was a constant development.

Did you always like the idea of picking up the story immediately after Casino Royale ended?
That was something Barbara and Michael mentioned to me in the first meeting we had and I thought it was a good idea and quite interesting. We start the movie 20 minutes after the last one ended and it drops in the middle of a car chase and that car chase ends in Siena and it’s basically Bond trying to find out all that he could about the organisation behind Vesper Lynd’s betrayal and that leads him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) the villain of the film. And for me the overall theme of the film is about trust but in the sub plots it also deals with natural resources like oil and water but the main topic is really trust.

With a film like this you have some big action sequences to film. What was that like?
You know it was all a little open because you know the story kept on developing. We were away location scouting and we still hadn’t figured out an ending, it was just a constant development.

Do you like working like that?
No. Normally I would only sign on when I feel the script is done and ready and I feel very strong about it. So that was unusual for me.

When you came to film the big action sequences did you enjoy it?
Yes, some of it I enjoyed. It’s a little tricky because it takes so long and it’s slow. I must admit I prefer to be in a room with a bunch of actors directing a psychological scene where I have to block it and figure it out. With an action sequence everything has to be rehearsed and then you figure out a few angles that work, shoot with multiple cameras and capture that moment of dramatic impact, which is fine and good and interesting, but I think the more creative part is writing the action than actually shooting it. Shooting it is actually very tedious because it is so slow and if you have multiple cameras and find interesting visual angles to tell the story then it should not be so much of a problem.

How many crew would you work with on a film like Quantum?
Between 150 and 200 and sometimes more.

And home base was Pinewood?
Yes and it was a very positive experience being there. We shoot some of the thank scenes for Finding Neverland there, although mostly it was based at Shepperton.

What about the accidents that happened on set?
You know the Aston Martin ending up in Lake Garda wasn’t related to us. The driver was an engineer from the Aston Martin factory - it wasn’t one of our cars. So it was linked into us but it really wasn’t the production. But we did have a tragic accident with one of our drivers and the best thing I can say about that is that the person injured is out of the hospital and seems to be recovering well so that’s just a blessing and the most important thing. Apart from that, the little injuries that Daniel had is something that happens on a film like this.

Let’s talk about casting. We’re you involved in casting the film?
Yes, except from the people I inherited from Casino Royale I pretty much cast everybody myself. They showed me different people and I was drawn to certain actors – like Mathieu Amalric who is one of the most brilliant actors working today. I wanted someone who had this very innocent, friendly and soft demeanour because you know the interesting thing about villains these days, it’s not like it was during the Cold War where there were clearly defined good guysand bad guys. Now the good guys and the bad guys are mixed up – there’s not someone who is just bad or just good. You know, Bond can be as bad the bad guy can be good. The capitalist system bought out something in all of us and we all do what is in our best interest – good or bad. And there are very few people that do things simply for a good cause - they are doing it for their best interests. Everybody pretty much lives their lives thinking ‘what’s my best interest?’ And that’s what the system created. So I think in that sense the lines between good and bad become much more blurred. And that’s something that interests me and that’s what I thought about with the characters. I don’t think that necessarily Bond is just a good guy and Greene is a bad guy.

The environment is an issue that is very much in the news at the moment. How does that play out in the film?
That’s why we called Mathieu’s character Dominic Greene, a man who supposedly cares for the environment – because in this day and age everybody feels ‘oh I’m green and that’s good.’ You know, every corporation realises that there is money to be made by claiming to be ‘green’ and it’s good public relations. And again, really it’s about gain and making profit in the capitalist system. And that’s why I thought it would be interesting to make someone like that the villain. On the surface it’s ‘yes, we are trying to be green..’ But what does that really mean?

Did Olga Kurylenko have to do a lot of the actions scenes herself?
Yes, she did and she did it very well. She had to go through months of months of vigorous training for months and in the end she did an incredible job.

With Gemma’s character, Agent Fields, is there a little bit of an homage to some of the characters – and I’m thinking of Miss Moneypennny – that we have seen in the films in the past?
I think there is maybe a little bit of a parallel but not I think too much of an intentional one, I think it comes with the territory if you cast someone like that that those kind of parallels or memories come out.

What surprised you about doing a film like this?
You know I did The Kite Runner in western China and it was so remote and so hard and after The Kite Runner I felt that this was like a vacation because even when we were in really remote locations I had a big crew and I had support. With The Kite Runner I did it with very little budget and very little support behind me, pushing the wagon up the hill, as it were, with Bond I had an incredible amount of support with Barbara and Michael spearheading it. And it made everything easier on me because I had everything I needed.

Barbara and Michael are keepers of the Bond flame. But what are they like to work with?
They are fantastic to work with. Literally at the beginning they came to me and said ‘you can make the movie you want to make’ and they kept their word. I created the film I wanted to make and they never came in between my vision and me. It was incredible and they really always fought for my vision, too.

Is it a very intense editing period?
You know, I would like much more time. Usually I have 14 weeks of editing and then another three months for sound, you would reflect on and digest the footage and you can’t do that here. But that’s the way it is.

Are you already thinking about what you will do next?
No, not at the moment because I’m so involved with this. And you know, this was tired but I really enjoyed it so much. Each film you do is different and that’s what I love about the job.

Thanks to Sony Pictures Releasing UK.