MI6 talked to 2nd Unit director Alexander Witt on the set of Casino Royale to discuss his work on the 21st James Bond film...

Casino Royale 2nd Unit Director - Alexander Witt Interview
13th November 2006

With just over a week of filming left before Casino Royale wrapped principal photography, MI6 visited the filming on location at Dunsfold Aerodrome, UK, and caught up with 2nd Unit director Alexander Witt to talk about the movie.

Can you describe what you are filming this evening?
We are recreating a part of a scene set at Miami Airport. There is a car chase which we are currently setting up for, a approach from the escaping tanker towards the plane.

We’ve just watched the scene been filmed and reset for another take, how long will it be on film?
The scene with the bullet hits on the tanker will probably be on screen for around one to two seconds. We have to get the timing right, the squibs, the water coming out of the tanker and the police car moving out. The first take didn’t really work, no water came out of two bullet holes. So we have to do it again!

Above: Bond and Carlos fight aboard the tanker as it ploughs towards the prototype aircraft at Miami Airport.

How dangerous are some of the scenes and stunts you have shot?
Some are dangerous because we are going through a lot of debris, planes, police cars and over police cars. It’s really dangerous for the stunt drivers who are driving the tanker, because there is no glass on the front, so any debris can hit them. It takes a lot of planning to make sure nothing goes into the cab.

We have a new James Bond, it’s a fresh start, what will the film offer Bond fans new and old in the way of stunts?
This film is more about the story and going back to basics which the first James Bond films had. There are two big scenes we did, one in the Bahamas and one at Miami Airport. The action is raw in the sense that they are trying to do every stunt for real. If we are using CGI its more to enhance the background plates. The stunts themselves we are doing for really. That is the difference. The last couple of Bonds have had a lot of CGI and invisible cars. It was getting a little over the top, this one we are back to basics and that’s the main difference between this film and the others.


Has Daniel Craig performed most his own stunts?
Yes, we’ve encourage him to do them, and he’s willing to do them. We have to stop him doing the more dangerous stunts. If he gets hunt we have to stop the how production and that’s not good.

Who makes the decision if he will carry out his own stunt?
It’s between the Stunt Coordinator and Producers, the Stunt Coordinator could say "yes" and the Producers say "no its too dangerous", so we have to listen to them. At the end of it’s the Stunt Coordinator who say "yes I feel comfortable in doing the stunt with Daniel".

What it the next setup for the shoot?
The next scene is the approach from the tanker to the plane, which you can see in the background. We’ve change the whole geography of the plane and set it up for how it fits into the film.

What does being a Second Unit Director entail?
It’s mainly to help the first unit, especially with actions scenes and help finish the actions scenes. The first unit will come in and do all the close ups on the actors or if we get the actors sometimes then we finish the whole scene. On this film Daniel is very busy with the first unit everyday so it’s difficult to get him.

Above: Alexander Witt (2nd Unit Director) on location at Dunsfold Airfield in Surrey.

What was your reaction when you first read the script?
Even before I read the script I had an interview, I was very excited to work on one of the Bond films. Because it’s one of the longest franchise we’ve seen, and I grow up with it.

How closely have you worked with Martin Campbell?
From the very beginning you work very closely together, the storyboards and the every time we start a scene, we talk about how he sees the scene as it’s his film. We are really here to help him. We’ve also worked very hard to match what the 1st Unit DP does, so we’ve worked very closely with them.

You’ve worked on a great may action films over the years how does Casino Royale rank up there?
That’s a hard one…. I think the stuff we’ve been doing is very cool, like the chase in the Bahamas is something I’ve never done before and that was exciting.

What do you think the signature scene will be for this film?
I think the stuff we did in the Bahamas as it’s never been put on film before.

How does it feel to be almost wrapped?
We finish in a week so its all pretty much done. It feels good, to finish it.

Alexander Witt – 2nd Unit Director

Alexander Witt’s career spans more than 25 years, starting as a camera assistant and then an operator and director of photography. He has since earned a stellar reputation as one of the industry’s top visualizes as both a second unit director and a director of photography and made his directorial debut in 2004 on Resident Evil: Apocalypse staring Milla Jovovich.

Noted for his high-octane car chases and action sequences, his credits as a second unit director include Speed and Speed 2, Twister, Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, The Bourne Identity, xXx and The Italian Job. Most recently, Witt worked as second unit director on Hidalgo and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.*


Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (Eon Productions) and directed by Martin Campbell, CASINO ROYALE is scheduled for release on November 16, 2006 in the UK. 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.

The film also stars Judi Dench, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian, Tobias Menzies, Ivana Milicevic, Clemens Schik, Ludger Pistor, Claudio Santamaria and Isaach de Bankole.

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Thanks to Sophie Davison
*Mini Biography courtesy of Sony Pictures