MI6 caught up with author Laurent Bouzereau to talk
about the new official book "The Art of James
Laurent Bouzereau Interview (1)
4th October 2006
Art of Bond book was announced in 2002, why has it
taken so long for this book to come to fruition?
Well, the question should really be directed to the official Bond
group – it was their idea. They had been working on this
idea prior to my involvement and the timing of the project had
to go along with an event in the Bond world, which may have been
one of the reasons. I think the event of a new James Bond picture
has allowed us to look back at the overall artistic contribution
behind Bond. I think it was definitely a reason of timing.
What was your brief when you came
on board the project?
The brief was all in the title ‘The Art of Bond’
and they said to me, we want to pay tribute to everything
that is artistic about Bond.
I thought the best way to do it was…
I have a huge Bond book collection, and there are the DVD’s,
as well, which are very informative. So much has been written,
and written well. I felt it was a challenge to find a format
that would be different, because some of the stories and
anecdotes we were going to cover had already been talked
about and discussed.
So I tried to find a format that would
make it a first person account – more of a conversation
piece. I meet with the people at Eon and the producers as
I wanted to find out who was still around from behind the
camera, so that when the new Bond movie comes out, this
person can speak for the overall artistic merits of the
Above: Book jacket artwork.
Hardback (Amazon UK)
They immediately liked the idea and I said, ‘if
you can guarantee me that you are going to get the likes of Guy
Hamilton, Ken Adam and all those people; I think I can create
a narrative structure that will take the readers easily from the
novels to the release of a film.’
This would cover the entire Bond series in film
making steps. From script, to designing a poster, we would do
interviews to get an insight into how it happens. I also threw
something else in that I quickly regretted, I thought later: ‘what
if this does not happen!’
I wanted to add five figures that were not Bond
related directors and authors. These were my connections to those
two worlds, which had all acknowledged being influenced by James
Bond. They could pop in and out of the book in between quotes
from people that worked on the films, Eon asked who, so I suggested
Ken Follett. I didn’t know him, but he has spoken about
Ian Fleming a lot. Peter Robinson who spoke about Bond theories
and always has a reference to James Bond and Peter Benchley who
unfortunately had passed away – he loved James Bond and
the character Jaws. I had worked with Steven Spielberg so I thought
way not ask him and Eon got very excited about that, because it
would put the book in perspective.
Above: Laurent Bouzereau
The reason why I regretted it was I feared
that all those people say ‘NO’ and said ‘I’m
not interested in participating in the book.’ However
I was very much luck because everybody from my ‘A
List’ got onboard.
Can you tell us what the underlying
narrative for this book is?
I think narrative of the book is taking the reader through
the process of making a Bond film, or even any movie. There
is a very unique approach that truly comes out in the interviews.
It shows the unique way those movies are produced.
If you make any action movie you start
with a script or book and end it with a poster. The way
the Bond movies are done there is a huge emphasis on second
unit and unique stunts which has started a whole trend in
It was interesting to create, within the
narrative, the story of going from a script to casting,
filming stunts, etc – highlighting why Bond is unique
in each of those steps and why Bond stands out as the one
franchise that started it all or who reinvented the genre.
How long did it take you to complete your
work on the book?
It’s hard to say, I was brought in when ‘Die Another
Day’ was coming out and even then it was question of finding
when will this book come out, we liked the concept of the interviews,
but what would the reason for bring out that book, why are we
going back to all those people, what are we celebrating and when
it became clear that the new movie was going forward and they
had a new script and release date then it all became much more
We planned to do the interviews right away. It
took just over a year carry out the interviews and deliver the
final manuscript. I conducted over 50 hours with everyone. I’m
a Bond fan, not a Bond fanatic, I don’t mean this in any
negative, way what so ever. I was interested in more of a mainstream
We are trying to appeal to a larger audience
and ask a filmmaker, for example a director, ‘Are
you a Bond fan?’ like Michael Apted or Lewis Gilbert,
‘did you know anything about Bond before you worked
on them?’. You realise that most of them had never
read the novels and it was not necessarily for directors
to, for that type of movie. If you think of Michael Apted
– he is known mainly for movies like, ‘Gorillas
in the Mist’ or ‘Coal Miners Daughter’
and of course his documentary work. I wanted the book to
be more mainstream, without alienating fans.
I’m a Bond fan and I wanted to talk
about the tune from ‘Close Encounters’ that
was used in Moonraker, little tidbits and homage’s,
which are really fascinating to me. I was trying to be more
concerned about the filmmakers. As a filmmaker, if you’ve
never directed that type of film, to a franchise like Bond
that have over 20 years history what happens do you, freak
out?, hesitate?, embrace it?, Watch all the movies? What
do you do?
I think this book answers those questions,
that’s why I think this book is unique and so is the
approach to the material.
Above: Director Lewis Gilbert during
the production of "The Spy Who Loved Me".
Why did you not add your now overall commentary
to the book?
It was a really strong personal choice, I don’t think anybody
cares what I think, I wanted the book to stick to the rule of
not having any third party commentary. I don’t want to sound
pompous, but I wanted it to be it to be a gift to the people who
are the creators of Bond. By bringing my voice in about the movies
and trying to link the quotes would betray my loyalty to the interviewees.
Above: Director Guy Hamilton (right)
on the set of "Diamonds Are Forever".
Each time I interviewed somebody for
this book I would introduce the book as:
‘This is your book, this is you talking. I’m
not going to put this into text, it will be a narrative
linked by what you are saying. They were so excited that
I knew I was on the right track. As I interviewed more people
I could see the quotes started to connect together. If I
had just interviewed Ken Adam and I was then going to interview
Lewis at his house I would be able to connect them immediately
from what Ken had said.
Everybody was so excited about it, which
confirmed to me that this was about them, not what I think
about the movies and my own experience.
I hesitated a one point when I wanted to
bring in my own quotes, dealing with my own experience with
Bond. But I said ‘no, this book is not about me’.
It’s hopefully about asking the questions none of
the Bond fans or people who appreciate art and the artistic
narrative of filmmaking would have.
I tried to mimic my approach to documentary filmmaking. I’ve
made over 150 documentaries for DVD and Laser Disc. I can count
on one hand the number of times I’ve had a voiceover, it
is very rare, even for example when I was doing a documentary
about ‘Rear Window’, where everybody is gone.
For me it’s not about what I think or a critical approach
as that’s been done well by others, it was really about
those incredible people who do the magic – the people behind
the camera. But it was also to acknowledge the talent in front
of the camera, there is some great quotes from the directors all
about the cast members, girls and villains – but it was
always approached through the eye of the director.
Many thanks to Laurent Bouzereau. Stay tuned
to MI6 for further coverage of "The Art of James Bond"
James Bond" Book Preview